MEET THE EDITOR: Rob Salguero-Gómez

We are thrilled to announce that Rob Salguero-Gómez has been appointed as the new Commissioning Editor for Journal of Animal Ecology. Read on to find out a bit about Rob and how he hopes to help shape the journal in this new role. Get in touch to discuss any ideas for Reviews, Long-term Studies, ‘How To…’ articles and Concepts in Animal Ecology.

What can you tell us about the first paper you published?

My first first-author paper was published in our sister journal, Journal of Ecology, in 2010, and it is titled “Keeping plant shrinkage in the demographic loop”. Yes, I started as a plant ecologist! Now, however, I work with any creature that survives, develops, and reproduces – so that’s pretty much the entire Tree of Life. In this paper, I demonstrated that individuals that decrease in size within natural populations of 80 species increase their chances of survival, thus shaping their fitness. This was a cool finding because individual shrinkage had, prior to this study, been either neglected because it was thought to be part of a measuring error process, or simply overlooked due to lack of biological interest. This paper proved the the tenet “bigger is always better” in ecology is not necessarily always true. This work has since resulted in quite a few publications evaluating demographically plastic responses of animals and plants to stochastic environments. Check them out here: https://salgo.web.ox.ac.uk/publications.

Who inspired you most as a student? 

So many people! But if I had to choose one, I’d say my mother, at the risk of sounding topical. I owe much of my Mediterranean stubbornness and ability to network, but also my fascination for desert species in general to her. The story is too long… but if you ever catch me at a conference and want to hear more about it, let me know. I’ll be happy to chat about this, and also about all things Journal of Animal Ecology, of course!

What’s your favourite species and why? 

As a comparative demographer, there’s no way I can settle for just one. I’m particularly puzzled by species that set records, be longevity (Greenland sharks, bristlecone pines), growth (blue whales, bamboos), reproduction (corals, orchids) or any other demographic process. Species that have odd, extreme life histories are a particular obsession of mine, I must confess. e.g.: males who undergo marathonian intercourse sessions before dying out of exhaustion, as in dasyurids; individuals who drastically shape their anatomy to “make it to the next year”, as in the Marine Iguanas of the Galapagos (check out this mind-blowing paper); and a very favourite of mine: species that seemingly do not senesce, such as naked molerats.

If you could wake up tomorrow with a new skill, what would it be? 

Breathing under water. I love swimming and diving, but I find myself limited by how much time I can spend marvelling at underwater biodiversity without having to go to surface for more oxygen.

If any fictional character could join your lab, who would it be and why? 

Black Widow! Why she’s not had her own movie by now escapes my understanding… though I know that there’s one coming this year. Anyways, we need more strong, established people in academia who, like her, have an unusual background. We’d be so lucky to host her for a long-term sabbatical at the SalGo Team!

If you could recommend one place for people to travel to on holiday, where would it be and why? 

At the risk of sounding provincial: Cadiz, the Southern most province of Spain. That’s where I was raised. Great food, great culture, great architecture… and not yet many tourists. Zahara de los Atunes remains one of my favourite places from back home. If I were to choose something less “provincial” for me, I’d have to say the Yucatan Peninsula for the same reasons: the food, people, culture, architecture…and biodiversity there are to die for!

How do you de-stress?

Pre-pandemic, swimming. During the pandemic, my partner and I were adopted by the most wonderful ball of white fluff, a ragdoll cat. She has been a great source of mental support in the last 15 months.

Are you a good cook? What’s your signature dish? 

Yes! I love cooking… but I’ve got a pet-peeve: I get a bit stressed out if there are people in the kitchen. For me, cooking is a cathartic activity, so I like to be left to my own devices while doing so. Though not in the same league as my mom’s Spanish tortilla, I have to say that my friends have praised my own tortillas. I also make a pretty good gazpacho (cold tomato soup).

How many British Ecological Society Annual Meetings have you attended? Which one was the best? 

According to my dropbox folders, six. The first one was the shared INTECOL-BES one back in 2013 in London. Perhaps the most memorable one for me was the 2017 one, in Ghent. It was extremely difficult to arrive because half of Europe’s flight space was closed due to a snow storm… I remember tweeting about my various flight delays and eventual cancellations and receiving a response from my Head of Department (thanks Ben!) with a photo of him in the comfort of a Eurostar ride. The whole “must make it to Ghent” became an adventure. I ended up partnering with David Orme in an overnight bus… when I arrived in Ghent, I was totally exhausted, so I had to miss a few sessions. However, the enthusiasm of everybody there, the great talks and plenaries I saw, the night activities, and being able to re-connect with friends and colleagues made it all worth it. Oh, and of course the fact that that year I received the Journal of Animal Ecology’s Elton Award. It was a great conference all around – despite the elements.

What are you most looking forward to about being the Commissioning Editor on Journal of Animal Ecology? 

Helping and shaping. I look forward to helping authors deliver the most exciting papers in the field of animal ecology. I also look forward to contributing shaping the multiple directions and impacts that the Journal and the British Ecological Society have on ecologists worldwide and on society at large. In the former regard, I remain particularly committed to increasing diversity of colours, orientations, backgrounds, nationalities, languages, etc. in ecology.

Tell us a bit about the articles you hope to commission? 

I hope to help authors contribute further to the excellent work that has been published in Journal of Animal Ecology since it was first founded, back in 1932. In my position as Commissioning Editor, I will be managing Reviews, Long-term Studies, and Concepts in animal ecology. Below are some of the areas that I would love to see featured in the coming year in either of these formats:

– Deep-time impacts on current animal biodiversity and biogeographic patterns
– Effects of multiple stressors on ecosystem processes
– Nature vs. Nurture: what mechanisms shape senescence?
– Fast, cheap, and reliable technologies for ecological monitoring
– The role of (functional) traits in prediction animal responses to climate change
– Patterns and mechanisms of marine biodiversity in the Anthropocene
– Human-wildlife conflict in the era of new technologies
– Drivers of long-distance migrations and consequences for biodiversity
– Animal urban ecology in the era of mega-cities
– What phylogenetic tools to use for which animal ecology questions?

If any of these topics hit close to your home (office!), please get in contact with me to discuss fit for a potential commissioned article. 

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