Virtual Issue: BES Young Investigator Awards – winners and highly commended papers 2013

Each year the BES awards a prize for the best paper, in each of its journals, by an author at the start of their research career. This Virtual Issue brings together the winning and highly commended papers selected by the editors from journal issues published in 2013.


Functional Ecology | Journal of Animal Ecology | Journal of Applied Ecology | Journal of Ecology | Methods in Ecology and Evolution


Winner of the Haldane Prize: Kyle Demes
Survival of the weakest: increased frond mechanical strength in a wave-swept kelp inhibits self-pruning and increases whole-plant mortality
Kyle W. Demes, Jonathan N. Pruitt, Christopher D.G. Harley, Emily Carrington

Highly commended papers:
A novel framework to study colour signalling to multiple species
Julien P. Renoult, Alexandre Courtiol, H. Martin Schaefer

Experimental manipulation of flowers to determine the functional modes and fitness consequences of self-fertilization: unexpected outcome reveals key assumptions
Sara Dart, Christopher G. Eckert

The 2013 winner for Functional The 2013 Haldane prize for the best paper by a young author is Kyle Demes for his paper
Survival of the weakest: increased frond mechanical strength in a wave-swept kelp inhibits self-pruning and increases whole-plant mortality

"Survival of the weakest seems an unlikely title for paper in ecology, but this is exactly what Demes et al. found. They studied intra-specific variation in mechanical properties in the kelp species Egregia menziesii in an intertidal habitat and found that weak individuals succeeded. Intertidal habitats (areas between high and low tides) are mechanically among the most stressful in the world, as the hydrodynamic forces to which plants are exposed are considerably larger than wind forces on terrestrial plants. Intriguingly Demes et al. showed that plants benefited from mechanical weakness rather than strength. In weak plants fronds were readily lost under hydrodynamic forces reducing their exposed area and thus the magnitude of the force. Strong plants, on the other hand, held on to their fronds until the build-up of force was so large that the whole plant collapsed. Thus the weak prevailed." Niels Anten, associate editor.

During undergraduate studies at the University of South Florida, Kyle was inspired by the incredible diversity of form and function among seaweeds and has been enamoured with their biology ever since. He completed a M.Sc. at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in California with Michael Graham, where he examined the relative contributions of shifting environmental factors on sexual vs. asexual reproductive investment in wave-swept kelp. After battling oceanic waves for data collection during his Master’s, Kyle began researching the morphological and mechanical adaptations of seaweeds that allow them to thrive in the wave-swept intertidal, one of the most mechanically hostile habitats on the planet. His PhD, with Chris Harley at the University of British Columbia, focused on integrating mechanical principles into ecological processes. Kyle is now a post-doc at Simon Fraser University, assessing biotic and abiotic control of kelp forest dynamics along the coasts of British Columbia.


Winner of the Elton Prize: Chuan Zhao
Predatory beetles facilitate plant growth by driving earthworms to lower soil layers
Chuan Zhao, John N. Griffin, Xinwei Wu, Shucun Sun

Highly commended papers:
A cat's tale: the impact of genetic restoration on Florida panther population dynamics and persistence
Jeffrey A. Hostetler, David P. Onorato, Deborah Jansen, Madan K. Oli

Social network analysis of wild chimpanzees provides insights for predicting infectious disease risk
Julie Rushmore, Damien Caillaud, Leopold Matamba, Rebecca M. Stumpf, Stephen P. Borgatti, Sonia Altizer


Winner of the Southwood Prize: Kulbhushansingh Suryawanshi
People, predators and perceptions: patterns of livestock depredation by snow leopards and wolves
Kulbhushansingh R. Suryawanshi, Yash Veer Bhatnagar, Stephen Redpath, Charudutt Mishra

Highly commended papers:
Streams are efficient corridors for plant species in forest metacommunities
Emmanuelle Araujo Calçada, Déborah Closset-Kopp, Emilie Gallet-Moron, Jonathan Lenoir, Mathilde Rêve, Martin Hermy, Guillaume Decocq

Saving the hihi under climate change: a case for assisted colonization
Aliénor L. M. Chauvenet, John G. Ewen, Doug Armstrong, Nathalie Pettorelli


Winner of the Harper Prize: Nitin Sekar
Waiting for Gajah: an elephant mutualist's contingency plan for an endangered megafaunal disperser
Nitin Sekar, Raman Sukumar

Highly commended papers:
Indirect effects and facilitation among native and non-native species promote invasion success along an environmental stress gradient
Phoebe L. Zarnetske, Tarik C. Gouhier, Sally D. Hacker, Eric W. Seabloom, Vrushali A. Bokil

Subordinate plant species enhance community resistance against drought in semi-natural grasslands
Pierre Mariotte, Charlotte Vandenberghe, Paul Kardol, Frank Hagedorn, Alexandre Buttler


Winner of the Robert M. May Prize: Will Pearse
phyloGenerator: an automated phylogeny generation tool for ecologists
William D. Pearse, Andy Purvis lland

Highly commended papers:
Indexing butterfly abundance whilst accounting for missing counts and variability in seasonal pattern
Emily B. Dennis, Stephen N. Freeman, Tom Brereton, David B. Roy

Tea Bag Index: a novel approach to collect uniform decomposition data across ecosystems
Joost A. Keuskamp, Bas J. J. Dingemans, Taru Lehtinen, Judith M. Sarneel, Mariet M. Hefting




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