Issue 8.3

Issue 8.3 is now online!

The March issue of Methods is now online!

This issue contains two Applications articles and one Open Access article. These three papers are freely available to everyone, no subscription required.

 Solo: Solo audio recorders are inexpensive, easy to construct and record audible sound continuously for around 40 days. The paper also has a video tutorial explaining how to assemble the required hardware and comes with a companion website with more information.

 The third dimension: A novel design to obtain three-dimensional data on the movements of aquatic organisms at depths of up to 140m. The set-up consists of two synchronised high-speed cameras fixed to two articulated arms and can be used for any underwater applications that require synchronized video recordings of medium- to large-sized animals.

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Can We Really Measure Habitat Condition From Space?

Post provided by Tom Harwood, Randall Donohue, Simon Ferrier, Tim McVicar, Graeme Newell, Matt White and Kristen Williams

Remotely sensing can see patterns of land cover, but how do we use this information to quantify human impact on biodiversity?

Remotely sensing can see patterns of land cover, but how do we use this information to quantify human impact on biodiversity? ©NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team

It’s very hard to make sensible choices without sensible information. When it comes to actions around changing land use and its ecological impact though, this is often what we are forced to do. If we want to reduce the impact of human activities on natural ecosystems, we need to know how much change has already occurred and how altered an ecosystem might be from its “natural” state.

Working out which parts of the landscape have been changed and mapping the absence of natural vegetation is an achievable (though onerous) task. However, moving beyond this binary view of the world is a huge challenge. Pretty much all habitat has been modified by human influences to some extent – by, for example, wood extraction, the introduction of invasive species or livestock grazing. This means that a lot of the apparently native habitat is no longer capable of supporting its full complement of native biodiversity. Continue reading

The Delphi Technique: Unleashing the Power of Structured Collaboration in Anonymity

Post provided by Nibedita Mukherjee (author of The Delphi technique in ecology and biological conservation)

The quirky nature of decision making

Two heads are often better than one in decision making. Several heads might have an even higher probability of being better than one. However, people in a group often have different modes of thinking or problem solving, alternate reference frames, subjective biases and varying levels or domains of expertise. How do we harness these messy thought processes and channel them for effective decision-making for biodiversity management?

© Henry Martin (The New Yorker Collection/The Cartoon Bank)

© Henry Martin (The New Yorker Collection/The Cartoon Bank)

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Latest issue and other articles

A dragonfly

Cover image for issue 3.4 © Dennis Paulson.

Issue 3.4

Our latest issue covers an impressive array of subjects: from metabarcoding (with associated presentation), to population genetics and population monitoring (with video explaining a microphone array system). Modelling and monitoring dispersal also features heavily with four articles, one of which is accompanied by a video for a novel telemetry system to track wild animals. Articles also include topics such as transient dynamics, a review on hormone assay, phylogenetic comparative analysis, stable isotopes (featuring our cover article), plant physiology and finally, statistical methods.

About the cover

Stable-isotope ratios measured in migrating animals have proven to be of great value in understanding migration. For example, when a dragonfly emerges from the water, the isotope signature in that water body is fixed in its wing tissues, which thus provide information about its geographic origin. In A dragonfly (δ2H) isoscape for North America: a new tool for determining natal origins of migratory aquatic emergent insects,  Keith Hobson, David Soto, Dennis Paulson, Leonard Wassenaar and John Matthews compared the isotope value from dragonfly wings of known origin with spatially explicit isoscapes based on water isotopes in precipitation. The relationship was strong, confirming the value of the method to study dragonfly migration.

One of the species used in the analysis was Pachydiplax longipennis. This individual was photographed at Red Slough Wildlife Management Area, Oklahoma. Photo © Dennis Paulson.

Early View articles

Also, these recently accepted articles have appeared on Early View:

Rapid determination of comparative drought tolerance traits: using an osmometer to predict turgor loss point by Megan K. Bartlett, Christine Scoffoni, Rico Ardy, Ya Zhang, Shanwen Sun, Kunfang Cao and Lawren Sack

Free application: taxonstand: An r package for species names standardisation in vegetation databases by Luis Cayuela, Íñigo Granzow-de la Cerda, Fabio S. Albuquerque and Duncan J. Golicher

Projecting species’ range expansion dynamics: sources of systematic biases when scaling up patterns and processes by Greta Bocedi, Guy Pe’er, Risto K. Heikkinen, Yiannis Matsinos and Justin M. J. Travis

Review: Temporal dynamics and network analysis by Benjamin Blonder, Tina W. Wey, Anna Dornhaus, Richard James and Andrew Sih

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Issue 3.3

Rosefinch with geolocator tag

Cover image for issue 3.3
© Germán Garcia – CC Attribution 2.0 Generic

About the issue

Issue 3.3 contains an amazing number of extra features: three videos, one podcast and one Powerpoint presentation. The topics in the issue range from DNA barcoding, surveys, measuring diversity, population and movement modelling and includes five free applications.

About the cover

Recently developed light-weighed tracking devices for positioning through light intensity pattern (‘geolocation’) have begun to greatly improve our knowledge of animal migration. However, the analysis of geolocator data is impeded by many factors potentially affecting light levels and thus, ultimately the determination of positions. Herein, weather and vegetation are major factors altering the light regime experienced by the animals. The picture shows a Common Rosefinch (Carpodactus erythrinus) featured with a 0.5 gram geolocator device.

In Geolocation by light: accuracy and precision affected by environmental factors Simeon Lisovski and colleagues demonstrated the effect of weather, topography and vegetation on the measurement of day/night length, time of solar midnight/noon and the resulting position estimates using light measurements from stationary geolocators at known places and from geolocators mounted on birds.

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Why Simpler Models are Better

(this is the first in a possibly irregular series of posts about papers that catch my eye. I don’t intend to only cover MEE papers, but I had to start somewhere)

ResearchBlogging.orgA perennial worry for anyone building models for the real world is whether they actually represent the real world. If the whole process of finding and fitting a model has been done well, the model will represent the data. But the data is only part of the real world. How can we be sure our model will extrapolated beyond the data?
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Issue 3.2

Aerial photograph of a forest

Cover image for issue 3.2
© Getzin & Wiegand – Biodiversity Exploratories

About the issue

With topics ranging from phylogenetic analysis to statistics and distribution modelling, conservation, citizen science, surveys, genetic and demographic models to avian biology, our issue 3.2 should be of interest to most ecologists and evolutionary biologists. The issue also contains 5 free applications.

About the cover

This very high-resolution image of a beech-dominated forest in central Germany was taken by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at 250 meter above ground. In this photograph one can clearly recognize individual tree crowns and even smallest gaps. UAVs are increasingly used for ecological surveys because they provide extremely fine resolutions and thus allow the identification of previously undetected object details. Furthermore, UAVs can be considered as very cost-effective tools for the acquisition of data that can be used also very flexibly.

In Assessing biodiversity in forests using very high-resolution images and unmanned aerial vehicles Getzin, Wiegand and Schöning tested the hypothesis that gap-structural information on aerial images can be principally used for the ecological assessment of understorey plant diversity in forests. The authors demonstrate that spatially implicit information on gap shape metrics is indeed sufficient to reveal strong dependency between gap patterns as a filter for incoming light and plant biodiversity. The study highlights that understorey biodiversity can be actively controlled by the spatial quality, and not just quantity, of tree removal. Thus, even under the same quota of tree harvesting, the promotion of complex and irregularly shaped gaps may be beneficial to foster biodiversity in forests.

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Recently accepted articles

We have been very busy in the past couple of weeks and we have a whole range of recently accepted articles:

  • A novel digital telemetry system for tracking wild animals: a field test for studying mate choice in a lekking tropical bird
    Dan Mennill, Stéphanie Doucet, Kara-Anne Ward, Dugan Maynard, Brian Otis and John Burt
  • A general theory of multimetric indices and their properties
    Donald Schoolmaster, James Grace and E. Schweiger
  • Beyond sensitivity: nonlinear perturbation analysis of transient dynamics
    Iain Stott, Dave Hodgson, and Stuart Townley
  • A two-phase sampling design for increasing detection of rare species in occupancy surveys
    Krishna Pacifici, Robert Dorazio and Michael Conroy
  • Metabarcoding of arthropods for rapid biodiversity assessment and biomonitoring
    Douglas Yu, Yingiu Ji, Brent Emerson, Xiaoyang Wang, Chengxi Ye, Chunyan Yang and Zhaoli Ding
  • How to measure and test phylogenetic signal
    Tamara Münkemüller, Sébastien Lavergne, Bruno Bzeznik, Stéphane Dray, Thibaut Jombart, Katja Schiffers and Wilfried Thuiller
  • Statistical evaluation of parameters estimating autocorrelation and individual heterogeneity in longitudinal studies
    Sandra Hamel, Nigel Yoccoz and Jean-Michel Gaillard
  • jPopGen Suite: population genetics analysis of DNA polymorphism from nucleotide sequences with errors
    Xiaoming Liu

They will be soon available on Early View.

Latest papers online

In the past week, MEE has been at the ITN Speciation conference in Jyväskylä. As a result, journal updates have been slower than usual. So here is a quick overview of the new papers available online during the past week:

Research papers:
Movement ecology of human resource users: using net squared displacement, biased random bridges and resource utilization functions to quantify hunter and gatherer behaviour
Sarah K. Papworth, Nils Bunnefeld, Katie Slocombe and E. J. Milner-Gulland
This paper is accompanied by a podcast. Follow this link if you use a Mac to access the podcast.

Modelling dispersal: an eco-evolutionary framework incorporating emigration, movement, settlement behaviour and the multiple costs involved
Justin M. J. Travis, Karen Mustin, Kamil A. Bartoń, Tim G. Benton, Jean Clobert, Maria M. Delgado, Calvin Dytham, Thomas Hovestadt, Stephen C. F. Palmer, Hans Van Dyck and Dries Bonte

Designing a benthic monitoring programme with multiple conflicting objectives
Allert I. Bijleveld, Jan A. van Gils, Jaap van der Meer, Anne Dekinga, Casper Kraan, Henk W. van der Veer and Theunis Piersma

Application – as you know, all our applications are free:
mvabund– an R package for model-based analysis of multivariate abundance data
Yi Wang, Ulrike Naumann, Stephen T. Wright and David I. Warton

Volume 3 Issue 1: Now online

It seems that from the number of submissions we receive at the journal, Methods in Ecology and Evolution has filled an important niche. As our editor-in-chief, Rob Freckleton, wrote to introduce our second volume: “those doing science need to be kept up to date on new approaches, and those developing new methods need a place to publish, as well as be supported in getting their methods used”. The journal appears to have done just that: not only have we published some very popular articles (see our recent posts on 2011 top cited papers part 1, part 2 and part 3) but we have also seen a keen interest from our authors in utilising the online extras that we offer to disseminate their work.

As always, in issue 3.1 we cover a very broad range of articles – the scope includes everything from statistics, to ecophysiology and stable isotope methods. The applications of the methods are as varied as reconstructing snow depth surfaces, tracking migratory songbirds, estimating immigration in neutral communities and assessing the effects of watershed and reach characteristics on riverine assemblages. Being the first issue of the year all content is free to access.

One of our big aims is to promote the uptake of methods. On our video and podcast page, we have support for the papers in this issue, including:

Our first Open Access article by Erica Spotswood and colleagues, How safe is mist netting? Evaluating the risk of injury and mortality to birds, attracted a lot media attention. You can read the press coverage for this article on our News and Highlights page.

This issue also contains a free phylogenetic application: MOTMOT, a model of trait macroevolution on trees by Gavin Thomas and Rob Freckleton. Check out our Applications page describing the latest software tools. It’s worth remembering that all Applications are free.

Finally, Mitch Eaton and William Link provided the catchy photograph that make this issue’s front cover. You can read more about the cover on a separate post, available tomorrow!

We hope you enjoy reading this issue!