Journal of Ecology News


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Journal of Ecology and BES Centenary Celebrations

The Journal of Ecology celebrated its Centenary this year, and the British Ecological Society will do so in 2013. Celebrations to commemorate the Journal's Centenary included the publication in the first issue of Volume 100 of a series of papers from our Centenary Symposium, which was held at the British Ecological Society's Annual Meeting in Sheffield, 2011, and a Centenary Reception at the Ecological Society of America's Annual meeting in Portland, Oregon, in August 2012. At this meeting, the Journal also sponsored the Postdoctoral Excellence Award of ESA's Plant Population Ecology section given to Jennifer Williams for her paper ‘Distance to stable stage distribution in plant populations and implications for near-term population projections’ (Williams et al. 2011) (Fig. 1). We will help the British Ecological Society celebrate its own Centenary with the publication in the Journal of a forward-looking essay ‘Identification of 100 fundamental ecological questions’ by Bill Sutherland and 33 other leading ecologists in this issue (Sutherland et al. 2013, pp. 58–67). As the title suggests, this article identifies 100 questions of importance across the entire field of ecology, reflecting the state of the discipline today, and proposing a research agenda for the future. We anticipate that this paper will become compulsory reading for all members of the Society and all readers of the Journal, and we expect that it will be a valuable teaching resource for discussion in universities and colleges. An interview with Bill Sutherland is posted on the Journal of Ecology blog, and we invite your comments and reactions to it there. The Journal of Ecology blog is the perfect vehicle to support debate about the listed questions, and we look forward to reading an exchange of opinions. In addition, the Journal is sponsoring a symposium on the evolution of plant effects on carbon and nutrient cycling at the forthcoming joint BES–INTECOL meeting in London in August 2013, as part of the Society's Centenary celebrations. Journal Editors, Mike Hutchings, Richard Bardgett and David Gibson, and Managing Editor Andrea Baier were on hand at the ESA meeting in August, and Editor Mark Rees attended the first Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology in July to help promote the Journal's Centenary with conference delegates.

Figure 1.

Executive Editor Mike Hutchings presents the Postdoctoral Excellence award to Plant Population Ecology section member Jennifer Williams.

Below are some of the additional major achievements of the Journal during the last 12 months. We also highlight some of the ways in which we will continue to provide our authors and readers with the best possible service both pre- and post-publication.

Impact and access

The ISI® 2011 Impact Factor for Journal of Ecology was 5.044, with a ranking on the basis of Impact Factor amongst Web of Science listed journals of 17th (of 131 journals) in the Ecology journals listing and 13th (of 190 journals) in the Plant Sciences journals listing. Along with our consistently high article cited half-life, which exceeds 10 years (the maximum attainable value), these metrics confirm the Journal's standing, as it enters the second century of continuous publication since 1913, as the premiere place to publish ground-breaking, novel and innovative research in all fields of plant ecology.

Submissions and the review process

The Journal continues to receive a large number of high-quality submissions. As a result, we are able to select the very best and most exciting papers for publication. We have to reject approximately 85% of submissions. On average, 37% of submissions are rejected without review when the manuscript does not report on a substantial ecological advance or does not address topical questions or test important hypotheses. Confirmatory studies and case studies cannot be accepted. To be successful, submitted papers must be of interest to a wide sector of our readership. Articles addressing generic issues, instead of focusing on particular species, locations or ecological events, are more likely to succeed in the review process. We encourage submissions that meet the criteria described above and urge all authors to be realistic about the prospects for their papers before submitting to the Journal. We also urge authors to carefully follow the Guidelines for Authors; failure to do so will result in manuscripts being unsubmitted and returned to authors wasting author's time and ours.

Time to first decision is currently averaging 30 days from receipt, with a time to online publication on Early View averaging 35 days. Our rapid publication time is due largely to all our colleagues who have reviewed manuscripts for us during 2012, providing constructive feedback usually well within the short time period requested. A list of names of the reviewers is published on the Journal homepage. We also thank our team of over 50 eminent and expert Associate Editors, who provide much additional insight and carefully justified recommendations about submitted papers.


In addition to the usual array of Standard Papers, Essay Reviews, Forum articles and five accounts of species in the Biological Flora of the British Isles series, including Campanula rotundifolia (Stevens, Wilson & McAllister2012), Dryopteris carthisiana, D. dilatata and D. expansa (Rünk, Zobel & Zobel 2012), Fagus sylvatica (Packham et al. 2012), Gymnadenia conopsea (Meekers et al. 2012) and Rosa spinosissima (Mayland-Quellhorst, Föller & Wissemann 2012), Volume 100 of the Journal of Ecology contained our Centenary Special Feature collection of 10 papers (available for free download). These papers, which were drawn from our 2011 Centenary Symposium, were written by a group of some of the world's most eminent ecologists. Prefaced by a short overview of our founder Sir Arthur Tansley's original vision for the Journal (Hutchings et al. 2012), the papers in the Centenary Special Feature cover a wide range of topics identified by the Journal Editors as being both representative of the Journal's historical coverage and currently at the forefront of the discipline.

Special Features are an important part of the Journal and allow us to present significant scientific advances in fast-moving and topical fields. Papers in these collections attract much attention, are some of the most frequently read and downloaded in the Journal and are invariably highly cited. We have several Special Features in the works for 2013, and several more under development for the future. Look out this year for Special Features on plant traits and ecosystem services (this issue), plant–soil feedbacks (scheduled for issue two) and one on plant senescence (later in 2013). A Special Feature arising from the BES–INTECOL symposium on carbon and nutrient cycling is scheduled to be published early in 2014. We are always interested in receiving suggestions from our readers for Special Features. Please contact one of the Editorial team if you have an idea for a Special Feature, and we can provide feedback and help with its development. Ideally, a Special Feature consists of a collection of 5–10 papers on a theme of current interest and importance. A proposal should include an indication of the names of potential contributors and the topics they would write about. Papers are expected to be original research contributions, rather than reviews. As always, the Journal also welcomes proposals from any reader for stand-alone Essay Review, Forum or Future Directions papers, although manuscripts can be submitted ad arbitrium. Readers interested in preparing a Biological Flora account should contact the Biological Flora Editor Tony Davy in the first instance.

The Journal's homepage ( is your first port of call for accessing journal content and contains a wealth of information in addition to tables of contents, including links to Special Features and Virtual Issues, Editor's Choice articles, news and highlights, our blog, Early View papers (those in advance of issue publication), recently accepted papers (titles only), and several other paper types, many of which are free to download. You can sign up for e-alerts about forthcoming papers, and there are full Guidelines for Authors if you wish to submit a manuscript. The homepage is frequently updated so that it is a resource for the latest news about work being published in plant ecology.

Journal of Ecology in the news in 2012

Several papers published by Journal of Ecology during 2012 received additional attention and exposure in the media. Included amongst this coverage was an article in Conservation Magazine summarizing Bullock et al.'s (2012) paper from our Centenary Special Feature warning how seed dispersal rates may slow down with climate change. Ahead of print publication, the BBC ran a fascinating photo feature on Padilla, González-Castro & Nogales (2012) paper on secondary seed dispersal by predatory birds of the Canary archipelago (see

The Editorial Board

There have been several changes to the Journal's Editorial team in 2012. Most notably, after 27 years of service, Mike Hutchings has stood down as Executive Editor, with David Gibson now taking on this role. Mike was an Associate Editor for two stints from 1985 to 1989, and then from 1991 to 1998, before moving up to be Editor in 1999, and Executive Editor in 2005. He has overseen the development of the Journal into the 21st Century, from a wholly print journal to one that is now predominantly digital, from a journal with an impact factor of 3.4 at the end of 2004 to one where the impact factor has been above 5.0 for the last couple of years. These are just some of the changes and initiatives that Mike has steered through. During this time, he has always acted professionally, sympathetically, with great probity, enthusiasm and good humour. The Editorial team, authors and readers will miss his involvement with the Journal, but we expect to call on him for advice from time to time (unofficially, he is now the Journal's Emeritus Editor), and we hope to see many more of his manuscripts submitted to the Journal. Mike's retirement has left a (huge) gap in our Editor's team, and, as we write this, the BES is interviewing candidates for the Editor position vacated by David Gibson's move to the Executive Editor role. By the time that you are reading this, the new Editor will be in post and helping us continue to build the Journal's reputation for publishing the best plant ecological research.

The BES' editorial staffing structure in Charles Darwin House was reorganized in 2012 so that each journal now shares a Managing Editor with another sister journal. We are very fortunate that Andrea Baier (Fig. 2) splits her time as Managing Editor with us and Journal of Applied Ecology. Many of you know Erika Newton who has moved across to be Assistant Editor with Journal of Applied Ecology. We thank her for her wonderful and highly professional contribution to the Journal. Nevertheless, we are fortunate that Lauren Sandhu has been promoted from her temporary position with the BES to be our permanent Assistant Editor. Lauren is the face behind the computer screen that deals with most authors on a day-to-day basis.

Figure 2.

Power behind the throne: Managing Editor Andrea Baier and Assistant Editor Lauren Sandhu.

Board members who have stood down during 2012 are Judie Bronstein, Kyle Harms, Fernando Maestre, Angela Moles and Sedonia Sipes. We are grateful for the excellent work undertaken by all of them on behalf of the Journal of Ecology. Their efforts, together with those of all our other Board members, ensure that we continue to maintain the highest standards in the science that we publish.

We have recruited several excellent and well-known ecologists to the Board during 2012. They are Gerlinde de Deyn, Richard Mack, Glenn Matlack and Richard Shefferson. We are delighted that they have agreed to offer their advice and new ideas, and we are confident that they will all help in building the Journal's reputation for publishing the best plant ecological research. More appointments are in the works, so stay tuned.

Journal of Ecology embraces Social Media

The Journal of Ecology, and the British Ecological Society in general, is increasingly utilizing the enormous reach and potential of social media to help spread the word about the work that we publish. The Journal of Ecology blog (, energetically edited by board member Scott Chamberlain, has been a great success with an eclectic mix of podcasts, video interviews, meeting commentaries and a wide variety of posts on a range of topics from the significance of significance values to the trials and tribulations of field work. Our popular Editor's Choice articles where an Editor summarizes a paper from the current issue of the Journal are now posted on the blog. We welcome contributions to the blog, including the posting of commentaries and reactions to papers that we publish. Do you have an informed opinion about one of the papers published in the Journal? Then, post your view on the blog and start a dialogue.

In addition to the blog, the Journal also has an active presence on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter (@JEcology). Journal Editors David Gibson (@DavidJohnGibson) and Mark Rees (@ProfMRees), and blogmaster Scott Chamberlain (@recology_) also tweet about a variety of topics including Journal matters. Please ‘like’ and follow us! Are there other social media platforms that you would like to see the Journal active on? Let us know!