2016 Robert May Prize Winner: Gabriella Leighton

The Robert May Prize is awarded annually for the best paper published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution by an Early Career Researcher. We’re delighted to announce that the 2016 winner is Gabriella Leighton, for her article ‘Just Google it: assessing the use of Google Images to describe geographical variation in visible traits of organisms.

‘Just Google it’ marks an important step in converting ecology to an armchair science. Many species (e.g. owls, hawks, bears) are difficult, time-consuming, expensive and even dangerous to observe. It would be a lot easier if we didn’t have to spend time, energy and risk lives having to observe organisms in the field! Continue reading

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A Big Database and Big Models Pave the Way for Big Questions in Ecology

This post was provided by Sean McMahon.

Sean is an Associate Editor for Methods in Ecology and Evolution and is a staff scientist at the Smithsonian Institution based at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.  His research focuses on the ecological mechanisms that structure forest communities, with interests spanning the fields of demography, physiology, and remote sensing.

The 100th anniversary of the Ecological Society of America was celebrated in Baltimore, Maryland at their Annual Conference in August. This year a record 10,000 ecologists attended the six day event. ESA conferences now boast a staggering number of scientific presentations, ranging from numerous plenary talks, organized oral sessions and regular oral presentation sessions to lightening talks, posters, workshops and mixers. It was both exhilarating and overwhelming, but featured a truly impressive amount of science.

As the sheer magnitude of the event made attending even a fraction of the talks impossible, it feels odd to highlight any particular presentations. Two talks, however – both on the final morning of the conference – did strike me as worth mentioning; not because they featured groundbreaking science, or novel insights, but because they reflect potentially powerful new platforms from which groundbreaking science might develop. Continue reading