Functional Ecology

Copyright © 2014 British Ecological Society

A Journal of the British Ecological Society

Edited by: Charles Fox, Duncan Irschick, Ken Thompson and Alan Knapp
  • ISI Journal Citation Reports® Ranking:
    2013: 19/140 (Ecology) Impact Factor: 4.86
  • Google Scholar Ranking (as calculated July 2014)
  • Top Publications - Ecology: 7/20
  • h-5 index: 51 h5-median: 68
  • Read papers published in the journal on Wiley Online Library
  • From January 2015, Functional Ecology will be publishing online only, as 12 issues a year.


Latest Videos & podcasts

Survival of the weakest seems an unlikely title for an ecology paper, but that is exactly what Haldane prizewinner Kyle Demes and his co-authors found in their, as Kyle Demes explains in this podcast on his paper, Demes, K. W., Pruitt, J. N., Harley, C. D.G., Carrington, E. (2013), Survival of the weakest: increased frond mechanical strength in a wave-swept kelp inhibits self-pruning and increases whole-plant mortality. Functional Ecology, 27: 439–445. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12067

In this podcast, Alan Knapp talks to Lara Reichman about the implications of her paper, now published in the latest issue of Functional Ecology.
Read the full paper online here:Reichmann, L. G., Sala, O. E. (2014), Differential sensitivities of grassland structural components to changes in precipitation mediate productivity response in a desert ecosystem. Functional Ecology, 28: 1292–1298. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12265 or the lay summary here

In this podcast, Robbie Wilson discusses a recent paper showing that long term exposure to a neonicotinoid pesticide ca damage bees’ ability to forage for pollen – and may be changing their choices of which flowers to visit – with co-author Nigel Raine.
Read the full paper online here:Gill, R. J., Raine, N. E. (2014), Chronic impairment of bumblebee natural foraging behaviour induced by sublethal pesticide exposure. Functional Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12292 or the lay summary here

Stag beetles are renowned for their spectacular male-male battles. In these scuffles, males fight each other with their long jaws over mates or desirable stumps of rotten wood. As a result of this, their jaw is strongly shaped by sexual selection and in some species, can become as long as their own body. How does this effect their ability to run? To investigate this, the authors made high speed video recordings of male and female stag beetles running on a miniature running track.
You can read the paper free online Goyens, J., Dirckx, J., Aerts, P. (2014), Costly sexual dimorphism in Cyclommatus metallifer stag beetles. Functional Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12294 or the lay summary here.

Cynthia Chang talks with Alan Knapp about why naturally co-occurring genotypes coexist, how genetic diversity within dominant plant species is maintained and how this can affect important ecosystem processes. Read the full paper here: Chang, C. C., Smith, M. D. (2014), Resource availability modulates above- and below-ground competitive interactions between genotypes of a dominant C4 grass. Functional Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12227

Hovering hummingbirds are rare among vertebrates in their ability to rapidly make use of ingested sugars to fuel energetically expensive hovering flight, powering up to 100% of their metabolic needs with the sugars they drink, while humans athletes max out at around 30%. Until now, we haven't understood to what extent hummingbirds can use the 50% of the sugar in their nectar meals that is glucose versus the 50% that is fructose. Our study shows that hummingbirds begin using newly ingested sugars to fuel hovering flight within minutes and can fuel as much as 100% of their intense hovering metabolism with either glucose or fructose.
You can read the paper free online Chen, C. C. W., Welch, K. C. (2013), Hummingbirds can fuel expensive hovering flight completely with either exogenous glucose or fructose. Functional Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12202 or the lay summary here.

Animals move within natural habitats in complicated ways, in response to many aspects of the environment. Advances in the technology available for recording and analysing animal movements enabled us to ask and answer questions that were inaccessible with previous methods. Our transmitters provided over 60,000 records of lizard location from 49 individuals monitored for a mean of 65 days each. Lizards primarily moved between widely scattered patches of core-habitat under fine, hot, clear weather conditions. Thus air pressure tended to predict lizard dispersal more accurately than did more commonly-analysed variables such as temperature and precipitation.
You can read the paper free online Price-Rees, S. J., Lindström, T., Brown, G. P., Shine, R. (2013), The effects of weather conditions on dispersal behaviour of free-ranging lizards (Tiliqua, Scincidae) in tropical Australia. Functional Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12189 or the lay summary here.


Now online

Ventral aspect of 7-days-old Hynobius retardatus salamander hatchlings reared alone (left) and with conspecifics (right).  Photo by Osamu Kishida. Kishida et al To survive against cannibalism: growth and developmental acceleration in pre-feeding salamander hatchlings in the presence of the conspecific hatchlings.

Image provided by authors. Williams et al A cross-seasonal perspective on local adaptation: Metabolic plasticity mediates responses to winter in a thermal-generalist moth

Gallotia on Isoplexis. Lopez-Darias et al Sex-specific differences in ecomorphological relationships in lizards of the genus Gallotia.

Photo provided by authors. Camacho et al How lizards evolved a fossorial syndrome within the Brazilian Caatingas.

Aerial view of a tropical rainforest, Lambir Hills National park, Sarawak, Malaysia. Photo by Fujio Hyodo. Hyodo et al Dependence of diverse consumers on detritus in a tropical rainforest food web as revealed by radiocarbon analysis.

Manduca adult. Portman et al Inbred host plants promote enhanced insect growth and flight capacity.

A deceased frond of duckweed and her last-produced offspring. Photograph by Patrick Barks. Barks & Laird Age-related deterioration in duckweed.

Contrasting forest types at the study site in the Andes of Ecuador: stunted, open ridge-crest forest (top) and tall lower slope forest near creek (bottom). These two adjacent forest types share only few tree species. Photos: Florian Werner. Werner & Homeier Is tropical montane forest heterogeneity promoted by a resource-driven feedback cycle?

A female brown anole, Anolis sagrei. Illustration by Amy Y. Zhang. Cox & Calsbeek Survival of the fattest? Not in the brown anole.

Photo credit: Daniel Barrios-O'Neill. Barrios-O’Neill et al A place to hide: how nooks and crannies help species survive in new environments.

Overview of the Manu Gradient, photo taken from the field site at 3000 m elevation with the lowland site in the background. Londoño et al Basal Metabolic Rate in Tropical Birds: The Influence of Latitude and Altitude on the "Pace of Life".

Ultrasonographic picture of a developing embryo (Vipera aspis). Dupoué et al When it comes to water, snake foetuses have priority over mom.

Root vole, Microtus oeconomus. Photo courtesy of  K. Zub. Wieczorek et al Silicon concentration and population dynamics of voles.

Photo provided by authors. Osada et al Implications of lifespan variation within a leaf cohort for evaluation of the optimal timing of leaf shedding.

Late-instar Choristoneura fumiferana caterpillar.  Photo courtesy of Jerald E. Dewey, USDA Forest Service, United States, downloaded from Wikimedia Commons. Marshall & Sinclair Impacts of repeated stress events on an overwintering insect.

Grow house at the Fortuna Forest Reserve. Steidinger et al Variability in potential to exploit different soil organic phosphorus compounds among tropical montane tree species.

A male brown anole lizard displaying its colorful dewlap. Photograph by Duncan J. Irschick. Kuo et al Bolder lizards discard their tails to compensate for risky behaviour when food is abundant.

Fungi are main actors of leaf litter decomposition in the tropical forest. Fanin et al Changes in resource availability have profound consequences for the microbial communities of tropical forest soils.

Photo provided by authors. Sharick et al Oxidative stress in breeding northern elephant seals.

Adult Atlantic silversides collected in little neck bay, Long Island, NY USA. Photo credited to Kestrel O. Perez.. Perez & Munch Swimming loss and recovery in the Atlantic silverside.

In the Central Valley of California, USA, small depressions in the ground can fill with rainwater in the winter, creating a vernal pool habitat. The dominant plant species (shown here in bloom) that are found in these pools can tolerate immersion in the rainwaters, while the flooded conditions exclude many of the surrounding grassland species. This process of environmental filtering, seen here at a small scale, shapes patterns of biodiversity across the planet. Credit: Nathan Kraft. Kraft et al Clarifying the discussion of how environmental variation shapes community diversity.

Primulina bullata growing calcareous soils (Photo credit: Ming Kang). Hao et al Plant uptake elements as influenced by phylogeny, soil and climate.

Female white-browed sparrow weaver in an Acacia tree. Credit Dominic Cram. Cram et al Hard work, dominance and health in a Kalahari bird.

Kittiwakes breeding at the study site on Middleton Island, Alaska, USA. Photo by Jorg Welcker. Welcker et al Is the energy expenditure of free-living animals linked to their metabolic costs at rest?

 Parasitic wasp searching for its leafminer host. Rossinelli & Bacher Less is more: choosy wasps used in biological control show why a diverse diet is not always an asset.

A swamp sparrow moulting throat, face, and crown feathers in eastern North Carolina.  Photo by Jeff Lewis, used with permission. Danner et al Food jumpstarts feather moult.


Photograph caption: Giant panda feeding on wood bamboo shoot. Photo credited to Fuwen Wei. Nie et al Nutritional geometry of the giant panda.


A banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) pup on the Mweya Peninsular, Western Uganda. Photo credit: Jennifer Sanderson. Sanderson et al Stress hormones regulate how the past can affect the future in wild banded mongooses.

Murres in flight. Photo provided by authors. Elliott et al Ageing gracefully: physiology but not behaviour changes with age in a diving bird.

Bumblebee foraging on clover. Photo and permission provided by Steve Gill.Gill & Raine Pesticide chronically affects bee foraging.


A hatchling painted turtle emerges from the nest after winter. Mitchell et al Maternal effects influence phenotypes and survival during early life stages in an aquatic turtle.

Song thrush eggs. Photo provided by authors.. Maurer et al Do eggshells act like sunscreen?

Female red squirrel with one of her pups outside of her grass nest. (Photo credit: Ryan W. Taylor). Fletcher et al Daily energy expenditure during lactation is strongly selected in a free-living mammal.


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