Read the latest Special Features from Functional Ecology:
In vertebrates, a key response to life's difficulties is the activation of the stress axis. The study of this axis is one of the best windows we have to see under the surface of the animal into the functional mechanisms it uses to cope. The major reason for this is that glucocorticoids, the key circulating steroid hormones of the stress axis, influence the expression of about 10% of the genome, including genes controlling metabolism, growth, repair, reproduction and the management of resource allocation. At the individual level, the stress axis plays a key role in allowing animals to respond to change and challenge in the face of both environmental certainty and uncertainty. At the species level, the stress axis plays a central role in evolutionary adaptations to particular ecological pressures, such that an understanding of the differences among species is essential to understanding life-history adaptation. This axis plays a role, not just during life's difficulties, but all the time, mediating the relationship of the organism to its environment.
The broad sweep of papers included in this special feature summarizes the breadth and depth of research on the ecology of stress in wild vertebrates. It is an extremely vigorous area of research, where we have made significant headway, but these reviews have also identified controversies of methods and interpretation that future work will have to resolve. They identify the key gaps in our knowledge that link the impact of stress on individuals to population and community processes. They also highlight the complexity of the stress response and the species-specific solutions to the problem of existence. To understand how vertebrates interact with their environment, we must understand how the stress axis functions and its integrative role in adaptation. These papers provide a solid foundation for this understanding.
Special feature: Invasions and Infections
Guest edited by Alison M. Dunn and Sarah E. Perkins
Volume 26, Issue 6
Invasive species disrupt native communities worldwide, affecting biodiversity, community structure and processes across a range of ecosystems. Invasions can have devastating impacts on natural communities, on agriculture and on human health. Understanding, predicting and managing biological invasions represents a global challenge.
From individuals to ecosystems, parasites are pervasive. Parasites, by definition, cause harm to their hosts. There is growing evidence that parasites and pathogens can affect the success of an invasion, both though loss of the parasitic biome and also by spill-over effects on the native community.
Here we investigate, across scales, the role of parasites and pathogens and the infections they cause in invasion ecology. The need to synthesise, and to predict and understand ‘Invasions and Infections’, brought leading ecologists together at the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting (UK 2011). In this special issue of Functional Ecology, we bring together a series of seven papers, stimulated by this meeting, that consider the wide ranging effects of parasites in biological invasions.
Read all the papers free to download from volume 26, issue 6. You can also read the lay summaries for this special feature here.
Special feature: Evolutionary Ecology of Plant Defences against Herbivores
Guest edited by Marc T J Johnson
Volume 25, Issue 2
Plants and herbivores represent two of the most diverse groups of organisms on earth and their interactions are fundamental to both basic and applied problems in biology. The articles in this special feature review the recent theoretical, experimental and methodological progress that has been made on the evolutionary ecology of plant defences against herbivores. In some cases, these reviews support long-standing theories with new analyses, whereas in other instances conventional wisdom is called into question and popular hypotheses are rejected.
Overall, this special feature provides a state-of-the-art look at the recent advances and a roadmap for future research on the ecology and evolution of plant-herbivore interactions. Read all the papers in volume 25, issue 2.
Special feature: Ecological Immunology
Guest edited by Lynn B Martin, Dana Hawley and Daniel Ardia
Volume 25, Issue 1
The immune systems of all organisms vary dynamically with ecological factors and constraints. This special issue on Ecological Immunology aims to unite concepts in this growing field (including tolerance, the role of epistatic and epigenetic constraints, and patterns of disease susceptibility for humans and wildlife) that have the potential to cross taxonomic boundaries and thereby provide a stronger conceptual framework for the study of immune variation over space and time. Read all the papers from this special feature in volume 25, issue 1.
Special feature: The Ecology of Antioxidants & Oxidative Stress in Animals
Guest edited by Kevin McGraw, Peeter Hõrak, David Costantini and Alan Cohen
Volume 24, Issue 5
Studies of antioxidants and oxidative stress were traditionally relegated to biochemical and medical disciplines. However, in the past two decades, these two research areas have been embraced by ecologists and exploded into the new fields of antioxidant ecology and oxidative-stress. This special feature aims to capture the spirit of these emerging fields and dedicated efforts to marry mechanistic and functional perspectives to a fundamental challenge for life on Earth - an oxygen-rich environment.
We highly recommend reading the virtual issue Anitoxidants & Oxidative Stress in Animals in conjunction with this special feature.
Special feature: Adaptive foragers and community ecology
Guest edited by Andrew Beckerman, Owen Petchey and Peter Morin.
Volume 24, Issue 1
This Special Feature contains five papers that together support a vision for the future of food-web research centred on adaptive behaviour. They are authored by people who might be considered grand masters of the field as well as people just entering academia. Importantly, they provide perspective and insight while stimulating thought about the use and importance of traits across various scales.
Further papers published by Functional Ecology in the field of Food Webs can be read in Andrew & Owen's virtual issue which accompanied this special feature.
Special feature: Floral scent in a whole plant context
Guest edited by Robert Raguso from Cornell University.
Volume 23, Issue 5
This special feature from Functional Ecology addressed the need to explore the full range of fitness consequences of floral VOC variation, and the need to understand how plants use floral VOCs to consolidate their reproductive and defensive imperatives. To read the full introduction and all the papers on Wiley Online Library published in the October 2009 issue of Functional Ecology.
Special feature: Nutritional Ecology
Guest edited by David Raubenheimer and Carol Boggs
Volume 23, Issue 1
Our first issue of 2009 saw the publication of a new special feature comprising eight invited peer-reviewed articles presenting the most up-to-date research in Nutritional Ecology. This special feature was accompanied by a virtual issue of papers from the same theme. Click here to read the virtual issue introduction and selected nutritional ecology papers.
Special feature: Towards a Predictive Understanding of Belowground Process Responses to Climate Change
Guest edited by Elise Pendall, Lindsay Rustad and Josh Schimel
Volume 22, Issue 6
The December 2008 issue of Functional Ecology included a guest editorial and 7 papers on belowground process responses to climate change. The guest editors highlighted some of the advances being made and provided directions for future research.
Special feature: The Evolutionary Ecology of Senescence
Guest edited by Pat Monaghan, Anne Charmantier, Dan Nussey and Rob Ricklefs
Volume 22, Issue 3
The June 2008 issue included seven influential review articles on the evolutionary ecology of senescence. Monaghan et al selected papers which considered the underlying causes of senescence looking at the evolutionary ecology of the ageing process summarising the principal mechanisms thought to be involved.
Special feature: Sexual Selection, Physiology and Performance
Guest edited by Duncan Irschick, Raoul van Damme and Anthony Herrel
Volume 21, Issue 4
This was the second of Functional Ecology's 2007 special features. Papers in this feature focused on a functional approach to sexual selection. The issue includes 6 papers and a introduction by Irschick et al.
Special feature: Evolution on Ecological Time-scales
Guest edited by Andrew Hendry, Scott Carroll and David Reznick
Volume 21, Issue 3
Hendry et al brought together 7 papers for this special feature looking at factors that influence evolution on ecological time-scales and to assess the consequences of such evolution.
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