Call for proposals: Special Feature on leveraging natural history collections to understand the impacts of global change

The deadline for submitting proposals has now passed.

We are seeking proposals for submissions to a BES cross-journal Special Feature on leveraging natural history collections to understand the impacts of global change. Proposals should be submitted via the online form below by 1 June. If your proposal is accepted, your manuscript must be submitted by 1 November 2021.

Natural history collections in museums, herbaria, seed banks, and tissue banks provide some of the most valuable information sources in an ecologist’s toolbox: time series data. These collections not only permanently archive preserved specimens, but also critical historical and contemporary information about how species distributions, interactions, and phenotypes respond to global change across time scales. Whether specimens are serving as indicators of environmental change or as the measurement of an ecological response, they remain critical to understanding ecological impacts of global change. For example, by measuring the morphology of specimens, we know that migratory birds are getting smaller as a result of 40 years of climate change (Weeks et al. 2020). By examining pressed specimens in herbaria, we have learned that herbivory on common plant species in New England has increased over the past 100 years (Meineke et al. 2019), and their phenologies have shifted over the past 170 years (Davis et al. 2016). By comparing historical with contemporary seed accessions we see that seed and seedling traits have responded to climate change over >30 years (Everingham et al. 2020).

By doing stable isotope analyses on feathers, Hilton et al. (2006) found that penguin diets have shifted over the past century. Museum specimens allowed Cheng et al. (2011) to document the emergence of a fungal pathogen and its impact on amphibians in Central America. Finally, there are numerous examples of how ongoing global change has altered the distributions of species (Graham et al. 2004). However, despite the existence of these studies, the value of collections is still underappreciated and much more knowledge can be gained from investigating this rich data resource.

To fill this gap, we are commissioning a cross-journal Special Feature on the contributions and potential of natural history collections to address global change questions. This Special Feature will comprise articles in Functional Ecology, Journal of Animal Ecology, Journal of Ecology and Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

We are seeking short proposals for contributions to the Special Feature. If you have an idea for a paper, please fill in our short form and the editors will invite a full submission if the article is in scope and a good fit for the Special Feature.

Each journal is looking for contributions in different areas specific to their scope. More information on what each journal is looking for is included below:

Functional Ecology publishes high-impact papers that enable a mechanistic understanding of ecological pattern and process from the organismic to the ecosystem scale. For this Special Feature we are looking for contributions that:

  • Leverage natural history collections to understand the mechanisms underlying changes in species traits (behavior, life history, ecophysiology) or community and ecosystem processes (e.g., species interactions or ecosystem services) in responses to global change. Potential topics include but are not limited to ecological and evolutionary responses to climate change, invasive species and changes in species distributions.

Functional Ecology will consider Research, Review and Perspective article types.

Journal of Animal Ecology publishes the best animal ecology research that develops, tests and advances broad ecological principles. For this Special Feature we are looking for contributions that:

  • Examine impacts of global change drivers, over decades and centuries, on morphology, traits, populations, or interactions among species
  • Document changes in the distribution of species and changes in biodiversity
  • Leverage the diversity of collections in museums to ask pressing questions about the ecology of animals
  • Demonstrate how collections lead the way for innovative tests of ecological patterns and processes

Journal of Animal Ecology will consider Research, Review, Long Term Studies, How to, and Concepts article types.

Journal of Ecology publishes original research papers on all aspects of the ecology of plants (including algae), in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. For this Special Feature we are looking for contributions that use natural history collections, especially herbaria and seed collections, to address ecological concepts including:

  • Long-term studies to understand impacts of global change
  • Effects on plant-herbivore and plant-pathogen interactions
  • Phenotypic and metabolomic plasticity, and functional traits
  • Biogeography and invasion/migration/extinction patterns

Journal of Ecology will consider Research, Essay Review and Mini-Review article types.

Methods in Ecology and Evolution promotes the development of new methods in ecology & evolution and facilitates their dissemination and uptake by the research community. For this Special Feature we are looking for contributions that:

  • Propose new methods and/or tools for using natural history collections data, databases, samples and specimens to ask questions about global change
  • Critique, improve and/or expand on existing methods and/or for using these data
  • Review methodological challenges with using these kinds of data and discuss how we can account for these issues
  • Highlight novel ways to voucher ecological data in collections that generate opportunities for future tests. Journal of Animal Ecology will consider empirical applications of this method

Methods in Ecology and Evolution will consider Research, Review, Applications and Practical tools article types.

Guest edited by Nate Sanders, Alison Davis Rabosky, Natalie Cooper, Chuck Fox and David Gibson

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The deadline for submitting proposals has now passed.