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Global Ecology and Biogeography

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  2. Global Ecology and Biogeography
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This issue marks a small but significant step in the evolution of this journal, as we leave behind the title under which the journal was launched in 1991, Global Ecology and Biogeography Letters. I apologize to those Librarians, cataloguers and others who have to deal with the irritating side effects doubtless generated by this adjustment, but hopefully the change is small enough not to require re-shelving of the journal! The change is the culmination of a series of changes in the format and content of the journal in the last 3 years. In relation to format, whilst we continue to feature the short Research Letter contributions (as exemplified by the rest of this issue), and Ecological Soundings, and welcomes short correspondence items with respect to previous papers published in the journal, we have also begun to carry full length Research Articles and Research Review papers. These fuller length papers sit a little uncomfortably in a Letters journal.

More important a question is what is the subject matter of a journal of Global Ecology and Biogeography? This has not been an easy question to answer, and different authors would doubtless offer categorically different answers as to where our priorities as ecologists should lie (see, for example, Bowman, 1998; Field et al., 1998; Hoffman & Welk, 1999). The current significance attached to researching the implications of global climate change would be one focus that many would expect to see in this journal, and indeed later in this volume we will be featuring a series of papers derived from the Joint Science Conference Earth's Changing Land of the GCTE (Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems) and LUCC (Land Use Cover Change) programmes that focus on the ecological implications of global change at the regional to global scale. As editor, I have sought to encourage a gradual evolution of the content of the journal, rather than to impose a single vision. Indeed, I would venture that the most exciting feature of the journal to date has been the diversity of approaches to ecology and biogeography—and the incorporation of ideas and methods from other disciplines—in the papers carried. The philosophy of the journal reflected in this diversity is, I believe, nicely approximated in the new subtitle—a journal of Macroecology.

Macroecology has been described as the study of patterns and processes in the large-scale distribution and abundance of organisms. While the label macroecology was coined only about a decade ago (Brown & Maurer, 1989) it is an approach to ecological issues which is rapidly gaining ground and support. Lawton (1999) has recently written ‘To discover general patterns, laws and rules in nature, ecology may need to pay less attention to the “middle ground” of community ecology, relying less on reductionism and experimental manipulation but increasing research efforts into macroecology.’ In his 1995 book Macroecology James Brown describes macroecology as a research programme concerned with the ‘nonexperimental, statistical investigation of the relationships between the dynamics and interactions of species populations . . .’ and as . . . ‘an effort to introduce simultaneously a geographic and a historic perspective in order to understand more completely the local abundance, distribution and diversity of species, and to apply an ecological perspective in order to gain insights into the history and composition of regional and continental biotas.’ It will be evident to regular readers of this journal that, while we do already carry such papers (e.g. McKinney, 1998; Hoffman & Welk, 1999; Kerr, 1999), many of the papers we feature are not well characterised as ‘nonexperimental, statistical investigations’ and indeed that we carry papers that are far removed from such a description (see, for instance, the Tropical Open Woodlands Special Issue to be carried later in 1999). However, where I see the common grounding with macroecology is in the broader conceptualisation of the approach—as a way of thinking about the interface between the traditional disciplines of ecology, biogeography and macro-evolution (Brown 1995). This is an inter-disciplinary approach that sweeps up many of the pure and applied papers carried in this journal. Thus, whilst I do hope that those who consider themselves Macroecologists will increasingly see Global Ecology and Biogeography as a natural, sympathetic forum for their work, we will continue to feature the same eclectic range of papers as hitherto.

I would like to take the opportunity of this editorial to mention briefly some of the developments that are being introduced on the technical side. Like the journal itself, automated, electronic systems of production and dissemination are now coming of age. We strongly encourage authors to submit final versions of their papers by disk, with automated copy-editing speeding up while also maintaining the highest standards of production. The editorial ofifce is now using email as much as possible for manuscript review and we hope to be able to handle at least a portion of manuscript submissions in the same way shortly. All such changes will be flagged on our web site as and when they occur. The web site http://www.blackwell-science.com/geb also provides contents lists for each issue, free downloadable copies of sample papers from the journal, full instructions to authors, and subscription information. The journal can be accessed online through a variety of intermediaries, including IngentaJournals, SwetsNet, and Electronic Navigator. These services allow for the downloading of articles as PDF files as well as free browsing of article abstracts.

Later in 1999, the journal will go live on the new Blackwell Science Synergy service which will use full SGML-encoded articles presented in HTML. This will allow browsers to search for elements in the entire text and to create links within and between articles. All papers will also be available in PDF format.

References

  1. Top of page
  2. Global Ecology and Biogeography
  3. References