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

Read the lay summaries for our latest issue free online.


Latest Videos & podcasts

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

Photograph provided by authors. Kessler and Morrell Plant communication in a widespread goldenrod: keeping herbivores on the move

The experimental plots in the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida. Several tilled plots and shade covers are apparent. Tschinkel et al Fire ant queen choices are behind fire ant success

Photo provided by authors. Souza et al Plant genotype identity and intra-specific diversity trump soil nutrient availability to shape old-field structure and function

A representative dispersal unit of each of 12 wind-dispersed study species in Panama.  The results show that tree height and number of dispersal units, and not how fast the dispersal unit falls, explain the pattern of seeds distributed around the parent tree.Image provided by authors . Augspurger et al Tree height, not fruit shape or weight, predicts how far wind dispersed seeds fly

Photograph provided by authors. Martin et al Intraspecific trait variation across multiple scales: the leaf economics spectrum in coffee

Transverse section of wood from pedunculate oak (Quercus robur). Dividing cells in the cambial zone (centre) give rise to new phloem (top) and xylem (bottom) tissues. Pérez-de-Lis et al Climate and tree vigour control the timing of wood formation in deciduous oaks

Image provided by the authors. Classen et al Integrating intraspecific variation in community ecology unifies theories on bodysize shifts along climatic gradients

Anatomy of a rainforest liana Strychnos minor showing large and largely solitary vessels. Image provided by the authors. Apgaua et al Wood anatomy reflects different ecological strategies in tropical rainforest lifeforms

A view over the experimental site at McLaughlin Nature Reserve (Inner Coastal Ranges, California) with harsh serpentine (background) and non-serpentine grassland (foreground). The green grassland patches in the middle of harsh serpentine are created by simulated eutrophication and increased rainfall. In these grasslands, typical bryophytes include Didymodon vinealis (left insert) and Fissidens sublimbatus (right insert). Photos by Anu Eskelinen and Risto Virtanen. Virtanen et al Mosses in Californian grasslands in a changing environment

A predatory Atlantic oyster drill rests upon an Olympia oyster. In many parts of the world, oyster drills have been accidentally introduced and may pose a problem for native oysters. These negative effects may intensify with climate change. Oyster drill egg capsules can also be seen on the right side of the photo. Photo credit: Brian Cheng. Cheng et al How will climate change affect predatory invasive species?

Image provided by authors. Rix et al Does differential processing of coral and algal exudates by reef sponges influence dissolved organic matter cycling via the “sponge loop”?

Image provided by authors. Ellis et al Moose in disturbed forests: impacts on plant regeneration, litter decomposition and soil composition

Aphelinus abdominalis parasitizing Acyrthosiphon pisum. Photo by Jan HrĨek. Ailsa H.C. McLean & H. Charles J. Godfray The outcome of competition between two parasitoid species is influenced by a facultative symbiont of their aphid host

A male Euglossa cf. dilemma collecting eugenol from blotter-paper (bait) in Yucatan, Mexico.  This species of bee is a floral generalist in foraging for nectar (males and females) and pollen (females) resources but a floral specialist in foraging for fragrant compounds for mate attraction (males) and resins for use in nests (females).  Note orange hairs on front feet, blue velvet pads on mid legs, and enlarged hind legs, which are used in fragrance collection, transfer, and storage, respectively. The bee is about 12 mm long. (Photo: WS Armbruster). Armburster et al Specialization and generalization in pollination mutualisms

Morphological diversity of phytoplankton, from single cells to different colonies and chains. Photo credit: Dr. Richard Kirby. Klais et al Competition shaping the phytoplankton communities, judged from the functional properties of the species

Colour-ringed dunnock (Prunella modularis) from the Dunedin Botanic Garden, New Zealand. Photo credit Stefanie Grosser. Holtmann et al Which are the drivers of animal personality: hormone levels or metabolic rates?

Figure showing how aphid created an interaction network through ant-mediated and plant-mediated indirect effects. Ando et al Aphid-generated indirect interaction network

 To measure the cold tolerance of small insects, they are distributed individually to small numbered glass tubes, which are lowered into a fluid with a low freezing point (<10°C). Hereafter, several machines work together to perform a controlled decrease in temperature, while every single fly is monitored through the glass. The temperature at which all movement of a fly stops is noted, and is a measure of the cold tolerance. Photograph credit: Mads F. Schou. Schou et al Insects adapt in real-time to cold but not hot temperatures

Photographs of Isopoda  by Theodoor Heijerman. Moretti et al Handbook of protocols for standardized measurement of terrestrial invertebrate functional traits

Image provided by authors. Soons et al Plants direct the dispersal of their seeds towards suitable sites

Red flour beetle moving through wheat flour. Schematic of the maze used to assess movement is inset in the top left. Photo: Pieter Arnold.Arnold et al Movement ability of an invasive beetle is related to leg length but not body size nor metabolic rate

Image provided by authors. Sheil et al Does biomass-growth increase in the largest trees? Flaws, fallacies and alternative analyses.

A fledgling European starling (Sturnus vuglaris) attempts to take off in flight, photo by A. Cornell. Cornell et al Physiological maturity at a critical life-history transition and flight ability at fledging

A western scrub-jay (Aphelocoma californica) searches the branches of a valley oak (Quercus lobata) for acorns at the Hastings Natural History Reservation in Carmel Valley, California. Photo credit: Jenna Kohles. Pesendorfer et al Competing for seed dispersal: apparent predation among oaks mediated by differences in the spatial ecology of two avian seed hoarders

Photo provided by authors.. Outomuro289 et al The price of looking sexy: visual ecology of a three level predator-prey system

A typical Italian male from north-central Italy. Photo by Ben Halliwell. MacGregor et al Sexual selection in hybridizing lizards

Crickets. Houslay et al The economics of sexual signalling

A female jackdaw (Coloeus monedula) approaching her nest box. Photo by Jelle Boonekamp. Boonekamp et al A fundamental problem in finding biomarkers confirmed using feather fault bars in nestling birds

Adult frillneck lizard behind tree. Ujvari et al Telomere length and telomerase dynamics in frillneck lizard

Example of ecological interaction Jordano Sampling networks of ecological interactions

Bombus terrestris on Rhododendron ponticum. Stevenson et al Plant secondary metabolites in nectar: Impacts on pollinators and ecological functions

Caterpillar of the Large Cabbage White butterfly feeding on flowers of a Black Mustard plant. Photograph credits: Dani Lucas-Barbosa. Lucas-Barbosa et al Endure and call for help: Strategies plants use to deal with a specialised caterpillar

The lead author (C. Preece) working in the greenhouse growing crops and their wild ancestors. Photo credit – Catherine Preece. Preece et al New insights into the origins of agriculture

Bumblebees. Image provided by authors. Schaeffer et al Consequences of a nectar yeast for pollinator preference and performance

Image provided by authors. Sletvold et al It’s all about the pollinators in the Lapland marsh-orchid

Physical conditions of the plants four weeks after herbivore introduction. Weekly clipped plants show fresh green leaf material after cutting. Aphid treated plants turn towards a yellowish colour, while locust treated plants show reduced leaf material compared to control plants. Fuchs et al Herbivore-specific induction of defence metabolites in a grass-endophyte association

A termite worker consuming a dead worker. Taken by Hu Li. Sun et al Cannibalism or burial: undertaking behaviour depends on the change of death cues in termites

Image provided by authors. Dollion et al Bad boys bite, good girls eat their dinner

Image provided by authors. Stout and Tiedeken Novel interactions: invasive flowering plants and native pollinators

Flowers of the African shrub Gardenia thunbergia are pollinated exclusively by the convolvulus hawkmoth Agrius convolvuli. The 10 cm floral tube of this shrub matches the length of proboscis of this hawkmoth species. Photograph by Steven Johnson. Johnson et al A global perspective on hawkmoth pollination niches

Colonization of artificially created gap bounded by mesh after one year of monitoring. Photo provided by authors. Vítová et al How plant species colonize open spaces in meadows

Image provided by authors. White et al Aphid toxicity to ladybeetles is not a function of host plant or facultative bacterial symbionts

A fossil shell of a water flea (taxon Chydorus cf. sphaericus) extracted from lake sediment deposits. Photo credit: Liisa Nevalainen. Nevalainen et al Diversity of ecological tasks in water fleas acts as a health insurance of lakes

Trees changing colour. Photo provided by authors. Fischer et al Tree genetics strongly affect forest productivity, but intraspecific diversity-productivity relationships do not

Image provided by authors. Rinne-Garmston et al Accumulation of external nitrogen in decaying Norway spruce wood

Decay begins before life ends. Wood decomposer fungi Fomes fomentarius (white rot) and Piptoporus betulinus (brown rot) emerge from the same standing birch tree in Alaska. Jonathan Schilling. Song et al Healthy trees contain fungi that can recycle them back to soil

Image provided by authors. Wolf et al Organic macromolecules and ultraviolet radiation combine in freshwater ecosystems to damage water flea DNA

Antarctic fur seals. Image provided by authors. Jeanniard-du-Dot et al Accelerometers can measure total and activity-specific energy expenditure in free-ranging marine mammals only if linked to time-activity budgets

Photo credit: Alexandre Robert. Robert et al De-extinction and evolution

Image provided by authors. Hardesty-Moore et al A mammoth undertaking: harnessing insight from functional ecology to shape de-extinction priority setting

Photograph provided by authors. Christina et al Importance of deep water uptake in tropical eucalypt forest

Image provided by authors. Pierce et al A global method for calculating plant CSR ecological strategies applied across biomes worldwide

Tigriopus californicus (female). Kelly et al Adaptation to heat stress reduces plasticity in a marine copepod

Huge lianas in tropical forest (photo by Chen YJ). Chen et al Stomatal regulation and efficient xylem water transport regulate diurnal water and carbon balances of tropical lianas

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