Functional Ecology

Copyright © 2015 British Ecological Society

A Journal of the British Ecological Society

Edited by: Charles Fox, Duncan Irschick,  Alan Knapp, Ken Thompson and Craig White
  • ISI Journal Citation Reports® Ranking:
    2015: 15/149 (Ecology) Impact Factor: 5.21
  • Google Scholar Ranking (as calculated July 2016)
  • 9th most highly ranked publication in the Ecology catagory
  • h-5 index: 51 h5-median: 70
  • Read the papers on Wiley Online Library

Issue 31.03 is out now. Read the lay summaries free online here.


Congratulations to Pedro J. Bergamo, Winner of the Haldane Prize 2016, for his paper Flower colour and visitation rates of Costus arabicus support the ‘bee avoidance’ hypothesis for red-reflecting hummingbird-pollinated flowers, and High Commended authors from Juan Zuo (Faunal community consequence of interspecific bark trait dissimilarity in early-stage decomposing logs) and Karin T. Burghardt (Nutrient supply alters goldenrod's induced response to herbivory). Read the Virtual Issue bringing together the winning and highly commended papers from all the BES journals in 2016.


Latest Videos & podcasts

For their paper, A ‘striking’ relationship: scorpion defensive behaviour and its relation to morphology and performance. (Funct Ecol. doi:10.1111/1365-2435.12855), Coelho et al measured the strike speed of scorpions for the first time and investigated if there are differences in the arc that the stinger, which sits at the end of the tail, describes during such a defensive strike. Read the article in full (and free lay summary) here.

Duncan Irschick talks to and Tiphaine Jeanniard-du-dot about accelerometers, energy expenditure and Antarctic fur seals. Read the article in full.

Dylan G. Fischer talks about the results of the first forest ecosystem-scale experiment designed to test if more diverse mixtures of genetic stock result in more productive forests. Read the article in full.

Julia Cooke talks to FE editor Ken Thompson about our latest Special Feature: The Functional Role of Silicon In Plant Biology. Browse the lay summaries here or read the articles in the August Issue of Functional Ecology.

Joe Bailey talks to Alan Knapp about his special feature (guest-edited with Jen Schweizer)on Ecosystems, Evolution and Plant–Soil Feedbacks, out in the July Issue of Functional Ecology.

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. In this podcast, Alan Knapp talks to Brian Steidinger, winner of the 2015 Haldane Prize for Early Career Research, about his prizewinning paper Variability in potential to exploit different soil organic phosphorus compounds among tropical montane tree species. Read the Virtual issue containing all the winning and highly commended papers here..

How do lizards adjust to life in the city? Lizards may use fences, posts and walls as they do trees in natural forests, but they may not find walls as easy to walk up as trees. Jason Kolbe discusses his recent paper City slickers: poor performance does not deter Anolis lizards from using artificial substrates in human-modified habitats with Duncan Irschick. Read the full paper here.

Emma Sayer and Ken Thompson talk about Emma's virtual issue: Making the Most of Microbes.

Thomas Hasper and Johan Uddling talk to FE Editor Alan Knapp about their recent paper "Water use by Swedish boreal forests in a changing climate.Hasper, T. B., Wallin, G., Lamba, S., Hall, M., Jaramillo, F., Laudon, H., Linder, S., Medhurst, J. L., Räntfors, M., Sigurdsson, B. D. and Uddling, J. (2015), Water use by Swedish boreal forests in a changing climate. Funct Ecol. doi:10.1111/1365-2435.12546

Islands are often considered ideal biological laboratories as they are isolated and vary tremendously in size, structure, and habitats, imposing different selective pressures that can drive adaptations of organisms on islands. This study capitalizes on an island-size gradient in the Greek Archipelago to investigate inter-island divergence in the body size, head shape, and bite force of a lizard, Podarcis erhardii.
Donihue, C. M., Brock, K. M., Foufopoulos, J., Herrel, A. (2015), Feed or fight: testing the impact of food availability and intraspecific aggression on the functional ecology of an island lizard. Functional Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12550

Robbie Wilson talks to Amy Hahs about using urban ecosystems to expand fundamental ecological knowledge. Amy Hahs guest-edited our latest Special Feature: Ecology of Organisms in Urban Environments with Karl Evans. You can read the Special Feature here.

In this study, Isabelle Marechaux and her co-authors looked at leaf water potential at wilting or turgor loss point (πtlp), which determines tolerance of leaves to drought stress. Using a new method based on a demonstrated association between πtlp and another trait, the leaf osmotic water potential at full hydration, they were able to estimate πtlp for 165 trees of 71 species. This dataset is a significant increase in information for tropical tree species and indicates a potential for highly diverse species responses to drought within given forest communities.
Read the full paper online here: Maréchaux, I., Bartlett, M. K., Sack, L., Baraloto, C., Engel, J., Joetzjer, E., Chave, J. (2015), Drought tolerance as predicted by leaf water potential at turgor loss point varies strongly across species within an Amazonian forest. Functional Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12452 or the lay summary here.

Now online

Hummingbird feeding. Photo provided by authors. Auer et al Links between minimum and maximum energy expenditure in animals

A liana in the forest canopy. Photo by Ryuji Ichihashi. Ichihashi et al Lianas may have considerable contribution to forest water dynamics with small basal stem area

Large-scale phytoplankton bloom is a sign of eutrophication. The photography was taken from a plane over the Baltic Sea in August 2015. The trail left by a cargo ship that passed through the bloom (left side) attests of the impressive scale of the phenomenon. Credit: Alexandre Budria. Budria Parasites getting into trouble in murky waters

Difference in how strong are the bites (bite force) and how fast can they climb (climbing speed) for two lizard species that look remarkably similar on the outer appearance but with subtle differences in functional traits found ways to coexist in a geographical area. Symbols for females are circles and for males are squares. Photo credits: Miha Krofel. Žagar et al How come similar lizards coexist? Towards a functional understanding of species coexistence

Penguin capturing prey. Carroll et al Patterns of prey capture by penguins are influenced by the patchiness of their prey

Photo provided by authors. Gunderson et al Benefits of thermal tolerance plasticity

Whitefly is feeding on the abaxial side of a tomato leaf. Liu et al Plant defense negates pathogen manipulation of vector behavior

London Creek, the source stream for aquatic macroinvertebrates. Photo credit: Hal Halvorson. Halvorson et al Understanding the role of animal defecation in aquatic nutrient cycles

Image provided by authors Charles-Dominique et al "Cagey" trees have safer lives

Two species of frog-eating snake show different patterns of sex-specific growth plasticity in response to prey abundance. In Keelback snakes (left) females grow faster when frogs are abundant but males do not. In Slatey-grey snakes (right) both sexes increase growth rate when frogs are abundant. Photo credit G. P. Brown. Brown et al How does prey abundance influence sexual size dimorphism in tropical snakes?

Scorpion with stinger trajectory traced. Photograph provided by authors. Coelho et al To know a scorpion by its tail; the tail strike of scorpions differs between species in shape and speed

Photo provided by authors. Santini et al The triangular seed mass-leaf area relationship holds for annual plants and is determined by habitat productivity

Photo by Miao Wang. Niu et al How do temperate trees maintain or restore water transport function in overwintering stems?

Male mountain spiny lizard (Sceloporus jarrovi) basking under heat lamp in laboratory thermal arena.Photo Credit: Travis W. Rusch. Rusch and Angilletta Competition during thermoregulation – The costs of being (or not being) under the spotlight

The architecture of a tree is shaped by its genetics (center tree is a maple) and the influence of surrounding trees. Photo by David W. MacFarlane. MacFarlane and Kane Neighbor effects on tree architecture: functional trade-offs balancing crown competitiveness with wind resistance.

Photo provided by authors. Zimmerman et al Immunocompetence in a long-lived ectothermic vertebrate is temperature dependent but shows no decline in older adults

Ecologists at work. Photo provided by authors. Závorka et al Co-existence with non-native brook trout breaks down the integration of phenotypic traits in brown trout parr

Image provided by authors. Haughian and Frego Log moisture and moss growth under thinned and unthinned forest canopies

Photograph provided by authors. Li et al Home-field advantages of litter decomposition increase with increasing nitrogen

Photo provided by authors. van de Crommenacker et al Oxidative status and fitness components in the Seychelles warbler

Close-up of a fine root, picture taken with a minirhizotron camera. Picture by Gesche Blume-Werry Blume-Werry et al Earlier snowmelt did not change root growth in two different subarctic plant communities

Image provided by authors. Fountain-Jones et al Do different beetle trophic groups recover after logging the same way?

The stem sapwood, visible here as the translucent part of a wood core, is an important storage container for carbohydrates. The background shows the experimental forest stand used in this study. Photo credit: Georg von Arx. Von Arx et al Sugar storage is prioritized over growth in pine trees at a dry site and explains auto-correlation in tree-ring width

: High-elevation mixed pine stand in the Gúdar mountain range composed of Pinus sylvestris and Pinus uncinata. Photo credit: Anastasia A. Knorre. Shestakova et al Drought effects on multispecies pinewoods spreading upwards in Mediterranean mountains

Wireworm foraging for roots. Photograph taken by Ruth Wade. Wade et al Impacts of future UK rainfall patterns can move through the food chain

Field work on an intertidal rocky shore in SE Australia (Photo Credit – Matt Rees). Paijmans and Wong Fish Contests and Community Structure

Image provided by authors. Zhang et al Mowing exacerbates the loss of ecosystem stability under nitrogen enrichment in a temperate grassland

Image provided by authors. Steeves et al Conservation genetic implications of de-extinction

Satellite image showing Lake Abaya and Lake Chamo (left and right respectively) (Landsat-8 image, 2016). Lemmens et al Niche variation between fish communities as reconstructed from stable isotopes in two ecologically different Ethiopian Rift Valley lakes

Landacape. Image provided by authors. Wang et al Standing stage accelerated litter decomposition and soil organic carbon formation in semi-arid region

One of the large outdoor aviaries in which the experiment was conducted.  The speaker boxes through which predator or non-predator sounds were broadcast are evident on the struts near the ceiling on the right-hand side.  The apparatuses (2 in total) we used to measure the angle and speed of escape at take-off are evident on the ground.  The study species (brown-headed cowbird) is evident in the far corner on the left. Walters et al Fear makes you fat, but not too fat to fly

Image provided by authors. Chauvet et al Coexisting tree species share similar characteristics

Barley weed mixture experiment. Schöb et al Species but not genotype diversity strongly impacts the establishment of rare colonisers

Siberian hamster long day length (bottom) and short day length (top) reproductive morphs. Photographer: Aaron Jasnow Bailey et al New evidence for regulation of seasonal breeding in mammals by the reproductive hormone kisspeptin

Grasshopper in a grassland field. Photo credit: Gaëtane Le Provost Le Provost et al Trait-matching and mass determine the response of herbivore communities to land use intensification

Fungus gnats grasped the petals of Mitella pauciflora flower. Photo provided by S. Kitamura. Katsuhara et al Unlocked function of snow crystal-like flowers of Bishop’s caps

Mountain grassland. Image provided by authors Herben et al Long-term time series of legume cycles in a semi-natural montane grassland: evidence for nitrogen-driven grass dynamics?

Photograph provided by authors. Lind et al Slow development as a cost of long life

Sampling plot of plant species in the Sierra Nevada Mountains (Spain) at 2725 m a.s.l. The grass Festuca indigesta Boiss. (Poaceae) is supporting other plant species to survival in this stressful environment. © Christian Schöb. Losapio & Schöb Resistance of plant–plant networks to biodiversity loss and secondary extinctions following simulated environmental changes

Hypancistrus zebra, known commonly as the zebra pleco, is one of numerous species that are found only in the Xingu River. Photo by: Mark H. Sabaj Pérez. Fitzgerald et al How diverse fish species coexist in the Amazon Basin

Image provided by authors. Tonin et al How nitrogen and plant diversity interact in decomposition of leaf litter in streams

View of the precipitation manipulation experiment in a semiarid grassland, Inner Mongolia, China. Photo by Bingwei Zhang. Zhang et al Differential responses of ecosystem carbon and water processes to increased and decreased precipitation

Snail eating freshwater plants. Photos provided by authors. Grutters et al Temperate and tropical snails share an appetite for native and non-native temperate aquatic plants

Image provided by authors. Rohde et al Climatic effects on population declines of a rare wetland species and the role of spatial and temporal isolation as barriers to hybridization

Photo provided by authors. Monteiro and Del Bianco Faria Causal relationships in food-web theory

Red knots. Image provided by authors. Mathot et al An experimental test of state-behaviour feedbacks: gizzard mass and foraging behaviour in red knots

Kittwakes. Photo provided by authors. Merkling et al ‘Reproductive effort and oxidative stress: effects of offspring sex and number on the physiological state of a long-lived bird

Photographic credit: Aurélien Prudor. Fay et al Contrasting effects of climate and population density over time and life-stages in a long-lived seabird

Photograph by E.C. Yip. Yip et al Goldenrod “eavesdrops” on the communication of its specialist herbivore and defends itself in proportion to its proximity to the communication source

Fish in a reef. Photo credit: Dr. Mark Priest. Bejarano et al The shape of fish success beneath the ocean waves

Exclosure. Photo provided by authors. Smart et al Leaf Dry Matter Content is better at predicting above-ground Net Primary Production than Specific Leaf Area

European starling, Sturnus vulgaris. ©David Costantini. Messina et al Oxidative stress reduces song rate in subordinate individuals

Insect-flower network. Vanbergen et al Robustness of insect-flower networks to disturbance

 Experimental plot in the Mediterranean rangeland of study (Larzac Causse, South of France). Barkaoui et al Does water shortage generate water stress?

1-species (Norway spruce) and 5-species forest plot (Norway spruce, Scots pine, hornbeam, oak, birch) in the exploratory platform site of the FunDivEUROPE project in Białowieża, Poland. Photo Credit: Dawid Zieliński. Dawud et al Tree species functional group is more important for soil carbon stock and soil nutrient status than tree species diversity across six major European forest types

Photograph provided by authors. Lewis G. Halsey Relationships grow with time – watch out when estimating diving energetics!

Image provided by authors. Bertocci et al Compounded perturbations in coastal areas: contrasting responses to nutrient enrichment and the regime of storm-related disturbance depend on life-history traits

Image provided by authors. Penick et al Heating the superorganism: Comprehensive metrics of thermal performance

Guppies. Image provided by authors.. Ghanizadeh Kazerouni et al Parents protect offspring from negative effects of UV-B radiation

 Siberian hamsters in long “summer-like” days (left) exhibit thin, brown/grey coats and display low levels of aggression despite have high levels of oestradiol. In contrast, hamsters in short “winter-like” (right) days exhibit thick white coats and are highly aggressive despite having low levels of oestradiol. Short-day hamsters compensate for low hormone sources during the winter by increasing sensitivity in areas of the brain associated with aggression, but not reproduction. Photo credit: JM Ho. Rendon et al Seasonal transitions and aggressive phenotypes

Pelican. Image provided by authors. Pap et al New analysis shows that the body feathers of birds evolved in response to lifestyle

 Blue-naped Chlorophonia (Chlorophonia cyanea) sitting on its nest in Venezuela.  It builds a nest of moss and rootlets that is enclosed on all sides except the opening (photo by T. E. Martin). Martin et al Thermal over predation benefits of enclosed vs open nests

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