Issue 5.8

mee-5-8-coverlargeIssue 5.8 includes articles on lidar & radar in ecology, occurrence data analysis, ecological networks, measuring habitats, life history variation, dispersal, biodiversity–productivity and monitoring populations, along with the freely available application article: ‘a simple numerical tool to infer whether a species is extinct‘.

There’s an associated video this month in which Phillip Stepanian and colleagues talk about the background and motivation behind their paper: ‘an introduction to radar image processing in ecology‘, followed by a short tutorial.

About the cover: This issue’s cover image shows a bull African elephant (Loxodonta africana), called B1177 ‘Obama’, moving through Samburu National Reserve in Kenya. Positional data collected using GPS tracking is increasingly used to study the movement ecology of a wide variety of species and can also be used for applied conservation as in our elephant program in Kenya. Space-use estimators are often needed to model an individual’s utilization of its environment based on sampled positional data. In the associated article we present a new space-use estimator called the Elliptical Time-Density (ETD) model that is ideally suited to frequently sampled GPS locations. Unlike other methods, this approach is based on empirically derived parameters that are biologically interpretable.
Photo© George Wittemyer.

To keep up to date with Methods newest content, have a look at our Accepted Articles and Early View articles, which will be included in forthcoming issues.

Are your analyses too fancy?

In this video David Warton interviews Ben Bolker, Professor in Theoretical and Statistical Ecology at McMaster University and maintainer of the lmer package, and Mark Brewer, Principal Consultant for Ecology and Environmental Science at BioSS, Scotland. They discuss the tendency to develop and use big fancy analyses that are in some applications unnecessarily complex, why it happens, and what can be done about it. Look out for a cameo from one of our Editors!

Ecology in China

ChinaEcology_Advert2At MEE we are looking to publish the best methodological papers. It is no surprise, then, that we are able to contribute several papers to this ‘Ecology in China’ Virtual Issue. The topics covered range from an elegant new way of using very old technology (Zhao et al.) to methods based on next generation sequencing to investigate biodiversity (for example Liu et al.). It is a pleasure to see the range of work being both submitted to MEE from China, and then to see that so much of it is going on to be published by us. Clearly, Chinese researchers are finding themselves at the forefront of ecological research, especially in the application of DNA-based methods, and so are finding themselves having to develop new methods for these new technologies. It is a pleasure to be a part of this Virtual Issue, where we can showcase how Chinese ecology is developing, and the methods that are being developed in China which will help researchers all over the world advance the science of ecology.

Bob O’Hara, Senior Editor

Click here to read this Virtual issue.

Kinect connects for mangroves research

Here is a video and press release about the recent Methods paper, ‘Investigating three-dimensional meso-scale habitat complexity and its ecological implications using low-cost RGB-D sensor technology‘, taken from Griffith University:

Motion sensing technology, best known in computer games, is vastly improving Queensland scientists’ ability to quantify habitat complexity in mangroves.

The Kinect line of devices developed by Microsoft for Xbox consoles and Windows PCs is marrying gaming technology with ecological research to deliver precise three-dimensional data in greater efficiency and at a fraction of the cost of current imaging techniques.

At Griffith University’s Australian Rivers Institute (ARI) on the Gold Coast, Professor Joe Lee, Dr Jan Warnken and Higher Degree Research student Ms Shafagh Kamal have been Continue reading

Our New Impact Factor (or why the five year impact factor is much much much more important)

Yesterday Thomson-Reuters finally released their impact factors for 2013. And ours is …


Which has gone down by 0.602 from last year. This also means we’ve moved down to 15th in the Ecology rankings. And what is worse is that the Journal of Ecology has overtaken us!

Impact factors are notorious for only covering 2 years of citations, which is not a long time in ecology. Our five year impact factor is 6.587, which puts us 9th in ecology, and ABOVE JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY. This is only from 4 years of publication of MEE, so we’re even giving everyone else a head start.

What can we conclude from this? Clearly, the 2 year impact factor is not adequately capturing the performance of ecological journals and the 5 year impact factor is a far, far superior measure of performance. Anyone who suggests differently must be in the pay of Big-JIF.

Alternatively, it suggests that we are still doing well as a journal: our papers are getting cited, and presumably read (but see Know-Thine-Own-Self Results). Having good metrics like the (5-year) impact factor is nice, but these are a reflection of quality, not the quality itself. There is more than one way that research can have an impact, which is why we are happy to continue to have Altmetric scores on all of our papers.

Issue 5.7

mee-5-7-coverlargeIssue 5.7 is now available online, including papers on population ecology, landscape ecology, spatial ecology, community ecology and environmental ecology.

This month there is a forum discussion by Murray Efford and Andy Royle, about the 2013 paper Integrating resource selection information with spatial capture–recapture.

There are 2 open access papers on particle size distribution and optimal capture of aqueous macrobial eDNA, and measuring convergent evolution, along with 3 applications on SDMtoolbox, BAMMtools and modestr.

In addition, David Borchers discusses his article, Continuous-time spatially explicit capture–recapture models, with an application to a jaguar camera-trap survey, in this interview by David Warton.

About the cover: Identifying regions of high functional connectivity for multiple species of wildlife is a conservation priority. In Landscape connectivity for wildlife: development and validation of multispecies linkage maps, the authors present an approach to predict areas of relatively high multispecies functional connectivity that is accurate, cost-effective, and efficient. The cover image shows a current density map, produced with the software Circuitscape, in the Algonquin-to-Adirondack region of North America, with warm colours representing areas predicted to have relatively high functional connectivity. Current density is proportional to the probability of use during a random walk. The map was validated with empirical data from fishers and herptiles, showing that multiple species move through areas that were predicted to have high functional connectivity.

To keep up to date with Methods newest content, have a look at our Accepted Articles and Early View articles, which will be included in forthcoming issues.


Ecological statistics are methods too!

LSJ_14_66814_FHU_MEE-ISEC-VI-WebAdvert_200px_Proof01BMethods in Ecology and Evolution has been publishing papers on statistical ecology since its inception in 2010. Since the last ISEC meeting, we have published many more papers, of an increasing quality and influence. We have put together a Virtual Issue to showcase some of those papers (but it also misses out many more that will be just as interesting)!.

The papers chosen show the range of statistical issues that have been covered in MEE so far: movement ecology, distributions, abundance, dynamics, capture/recapture, as well as papers on how we should interpret our results. MEE also publishes applications, which outline recent developments in implementations of methods, for example new software and packages, and a couple of these are included in this Virtual Issue.

I hope these papers will prove to be stimulating, and show the range of statistical subjects covered in MEE. I also hope it will encourage you to explore other papers published in MEE, and to submit your best papers on statistical ecology to Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

Senior Editor

Gender bias?

PatBy Pat Backwell
Associate Editor, Methods in Ecology and Evolution

There is a lot of discussion about gender differences in the publication of scientific papers. A clear pattern is that men produce more papers than women. A less clear pattern is in citation rates: some studies show that females are cited less, some find no effect. Where biases are shown, many arguments are used to explain them. Two common arguments are (i) child rearing limits females from spending as much time publishing, applying for funding or advancing their careers; and (ii) self-promotion and overt competitiveness are more typically exhibited by males and are traits rewarded in the review process for publication, funding and promotion.

A paper of particular interest to me was published in 2006 (Symonds et al.). It looked at gender differences in publication outputs of Australian and British Evolutionary Biologists and Ecologists (I am an Australian behavioural ecologist). They showed that men published almost 40% more papers than women, and men were significantly more likely to win research funding; but there was no difference in the median number of citations per paper for males and females. While citation rates are not necessarily a good metric for research quality, they do crudely suggest that females produce work of equal quality to men.

This paper got me thinking about where males and females chose to publish their work. If Continue reading