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

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.

Detail of one of the sampling units, sited in a Mediterranean grassland near Madrid (Spain). Photograph by: Cristina Rota. Carmona et al More for less: sampling strategies of plant functional traits across local environmental gradients.

Image courtesy of Alain Paquette. Rivest et al Young trees shape the capacity of soil microbial communities to resist and recover following drought.

Leucanthemum vulgare growing in homogeneous (Ho) and heterogeneous (He) distributions of soil biota. Photo credit: Isabella G.S. Visschers. Hendriks et al Root responses of grassland species to spatial differences in soil history.

THE MALAGASY PRIMATE CHEIROGALEUS MEDIUS FACE-TO-FACE WITH THE REPTILE URUPLATUS HENKELI, WITH WHOM IT SHARES BODY TEMPERATURE PROFILES DURING HIBERNATION. Dausmann & Glos Sleeping single in a double bed: for tropical hibernators sociality is a hurdle rather than advantage.

Female grasshopper (Chorthippus_biguttulus). Photo provided by authors. Deraison et al Grasshopper effect traits reflect their feeding niche and determine their impact on plant community biomass.

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.

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