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

Ken Thompson talks to Katie Field about her Virtual Issue Mycorrhizal networks in ecosystem structure and functioning. The vast majority of land plants form mutualistic symbioses with soil-dwelling fungi known as mycorrhizas, which can link many plants through fungal hyphae in a common mycelial network. This Virtual Issue highlights three major themes in mycorrhizal research: the movement of plant-fixed carbon, reciprocal exchange of nutrients, and the wider impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem function.

In this study, the authors measured song frequency content and hearing sensitivity for nine species of songbird over a broad range of frequencies. If hearing correlates to song characteristics, then open habitat bird species should have higher sensitivity to high-frequency sounds than forest species. Surprisingly, although song frequency was highest in species from open habitats and lowest in forest species (as expected), song frequency and habitat were not correlated with high-frequency hearing sensitivity.
You can read the paper free online Vélez, A., Gall, M. D., Fu, J., Lucas, J. R. (2014), Song structure, not high-frequency song content, determines high-frequency auditory sensitivity in nine species of New World sparrows. Functional Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12352 or the lay summary here.

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

Insect species associated with two different genotypes of coastal willow (Salix hookeriana). Barbour et al Host-plant genetics determines the composition of associated insects.

A birch tree damaged by moose (photo by Kalle Rainio). Muiruri et al Moose browsing alters tree diversity effects on birch growth and insect herbivory.

 Two sundew species with red prey-trapping leaves:  Drosera arcturi (top), Drosera spatulata (bottom). Photos: Andreas Jürgens. Jürgens et al Red is the colour: the effect of trap colour and trap-flower distance on prey and pollinator capture in carnivorous sundews.

Joe Ehrenberger making physiological measurements on a Sceloporus lizard. Buckley et al Behaviorally escaping the heat of climate change may lead to long term vulnerability.

Great tit (Parus major). Image copyright Joris Bertrand. Jacob et al Microbiome affects egg carotenoid investment, nestling development and adult oxidative costs of reproduction in Great tits.

Whiteflies feeding on tomato stems. Photo provided by authors. Su et al The whitefly-associated facultative symbiont suppresses induced plant defenses.

Close-up view of the lichens dominating biological soil crusts at the Aranjuez Experimental Station: Diploschistes diacapsis, Fulgensia subbracteata and Psora decipiens (white, yellow and pink thalli, respectively). Photograph by Fernando T. Maestre. Delgado-Baquerizo et al Biocrust-forming lichens effects on soil nutrients and microbial abundances.

Angry brown anole. Brace et al Highway to the danger zone: costs of immune system activation in an invasive lizard.

Infected snail surrounded by a cloud of cercariae. Paull et al Sustained heat waves may reduce output of a parasite that causes frog deformities.

Three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and robotic heron. Photographs by Ines Fürtbauer. Fürtbauer et al Personality, plasticity, and predation: linking endocrine and behavioural reaction norms in stickleback fish.

Leaf litter from the current (left) and previous year (right) on the bottom of an intermittent stream bed in Georgia’s coastal plain. While maple, tupelo, and oak litter can be seen in freshly-fallen litter, only oak litter can be readily distinguished among the older litter. Mehring et al Leaf litter nutrient uptake in an intermittent blackwater river: Influence of tree species and associated biotic and abiotic drivers.

Lady beetles (Aiolocaria hexaspilota) search for leaf beetles (Plagiodera versicolora) using willow volatiles. Yoneya & Miki Plant aroma drives diversification of plant-herbivore-carnivore interactions.

Photo by Ari Friedlaender under NMFS Permit: #14534-2. Goldbogenet al Prey density and distribution drive the three-dimensional foraging strategies of the largest filter feeder.

Photo of brown trout. Copyright Sonya Auer. Auer et al Links between metabolic rates and growth depend on food availability.

Cane toad dispersing. Photograph by David Nelson. Brown et al Cane toads are not directional dispersers.

The evolution of a trait along a phylogeny. Münkemüller et al Phylogenetic niche conservatism – common pitfalls and ways forward.

Photo provided by authors. Nippert & Holdo Is maximum rooting depth all we need to know?

A successional field in New Jersey (USA) being colonized by shrubs.  In the background can be seen the forest that serves as the source for many of the plants that establish in the site.  Photo by S. J. Meiners. Meiners et al New perspectives in ecological succession.

Lymnaea stagnalis snail. Photo by Katja Leicht. Seppälä & Leicht Food makes you attractive for parasites.

Vegetation survey and biomass sampling in an alpine meadow on the Tibetan Plateau. The field survey was conducted by the Peking University Sampling Campaign Teams during 2001-2004. Photo credit: Dr. Chengyang Zheng.. Yang et al Isotopic evidence for edaphic rather than climatic controls over large-scale soil carbon dynamics in alpine ecosystems.

For a hatchling green turtle, the path to survival is littered with obstacles. Photo credited to Fauxen on Creative Commons.. Cavallo et al How will climate warming effect the survival and dispersal of endangered green sea turtle hatchlings?.

Image provided by authors. Corbin et al Linkage and trade-off in trophic morphology and behavioral performance of birds.

Representative fine root systems of Halesia tetraptera (Hal tet, asterdi), Acer saccharum (Ace, sac, rosid) and Magnolia virginiana (Mag vir, magnoliid), showing morphological differences among main angiosperm clades. Picture credits to Peter Blackwood. Valverde-Barrantes et al Variation in root morphology of flowering plants is linked to ancestry, but root chemistry is comparable to aboveground tissues.

Female brown anole lizard, Anolis sagrei. Photo provided by author. Cox et al Do female anole lizards retain the ability to respond to testosterone?

Figure 1: A) Hatchling painted turtle emerging from nest. (Photo credit: TSM) B) Experimental clutch of painted turtle eggs from this experiment. (Photo credit: BLB). Bodensteiner et al Water water everywhere: soil water content influences hatchling reptile characteristics.

Song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) singing. Photo by Basar, Image from Wikimedia Commons. Vélez et al Bird song properties and auditory sensitivity.

Field site: pasture in Abergwyngregyn, Gwynedd, UK. Rousk et al Priming of the decomposition of aging soil organic matter: concentration dependence and microbial control.

Corky bark of Myrcia bella (Myrtaceae) from a Brazilian savanna (cerrado). Pausas The ecology of bark thickness: An hypothesis.

Fucus vesiculosus at the base of cordgrass (Spartina maritima) in the Ria Formosa coastal lagoon. Photo courtesy of the authors. Mota et al Some don't like it hot: southernmost populations live very close to their thermal limits.

CMV-infected (upper) and healthy (lower) Cucurbita pepo plants with insets of squash bugs (top) and aphids (bottom). Photos by K. Mauck. Mauck et al Plant virus infection protects host plants from herbivore attack.

Two wolves in Alberta run across a frozen lake away from an approaching helicopter. Photo credited to Paul Paquet. Bryan et al Wolves that are heavily hunted have higher stress and reproductive hormones than wolves with lower hunting pressure.

Introduced Japanese honeysuckle encroaching on copperhead habitat (photo credit to Evin T. Carter). Carter et al Invasive plants, thermal regimes, and habitat management for snakes.

Novel objects presented to blue tits. Photo provided by authors. Arnold et al Oxidative costs of personality.

The picture shows the ornamental feathers of the starling male. Credits: J. J. Soler. Ruiz-Rodríguez et al Starling males show their ability to cope against bacteria to females.

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