International Women’s Day 2023

It’s International Women’s Day and once again we look back over the blogs from the last year, and highlight five of our favourites written by women. At the same time, we also wanted to highlight the diversity of studies published in Journal of Animal Ecology. Celebrate women in science, and the awesome work they’ve done by checking out our favourites below, as well as a brief profile provided by each of the authors and links to find more of their work.
Taylor Ganz

Taylor’s blog post To understand how mule deer use fire-impacted areas, consider the season and account for their predator was one of our favourites this year. Taylor clearly explains how they studied how mule deer are navigating increasing burns from wildfires while continuing to evade predators by GPS-collaring 150 female deer along with cougars and wolves.

Taylor Ganz, Ph.D., is a research analyst at the University of Washington, where she studies carnivore-ungulate interactions and how they are shaped by large-scale landscape changes such as timber harvest and wildfire. She is generally interested in predator-prey dynamics and understanding how humans shape ecosystems, particularly as relevant to conservation in the American West. Outside of her life as a scientist she enjoys spending time outdoors, especially trail running and skiing.

Mélanie Thierry

Mélanie’s blog post Multiple parasitoid species enhance top-down control, but parasitoid performance is context-dependent brings our attention to the small things that we often overlook – except when seeking inspiration for science fiction and horror movies. Meet the parasitoids.

I was born and raised in the South of France. In my research, I integrate community ecology, thermal biology and evolution to investigate effects of environmental changes on individuals, populations and metacommunities. My PhD brought me to the University of South Bohemia in Czech Republic and in the tropical forests of Australia to disentangle the mechanisms structuring Drosophila host-parasitoid communities under warming scenarios. I am now back in my country as a postdoctoral researcher at the Theoretical and Experimental Ecology Station of CNRS in the French Pyrenees. There, I study phenotypic and dispersal plasticity from the perspective of community ecology. Twitter handle: @MelJThierry. Website:

Isobel Ollard

Isobel’s blog post Historical data show serious threats facing freshwater mussels in major UK river follows in the footsteps of another female scientist, repeating a study carried out in 1963-1964 to explore dramatic changes in freshwater mussel populations in the river Thames.

Isobel is a PhD student in Zoology at the University of Cambridge, studying aquatic ecology. In particular, she focuses on using various types of historical data to build an understanding of how freshwater mussel populations have changed and are changing over time, and the impacts this could have on lakes and rivers through mussels’ role as ecosystem engineers. Isobel was drawn to studying aquatic ecology due to her love of kayaking, and loves the alternative perspective this brings to freshwater ecosystems.

On being a woman in science: During the course of the research featured in this post, Isobel was able to contact Christina Negus, the author of the 1964 study her work builds on. She found it inspiring to discuss Christina’s work and her experiences as a researcher at a time when scientific careers for women often looked very different than they do today, and she gratefully acknowledges Christina and all the other talented and tenacious women scientists who paved the way for us.

Sara Emery

Sara’s blog post Cold winters drive 8-year population cycles for a beetle pest in agriculture sheds light on the boom and bust population cycles of the cabbage stem flea beetle, an agricultural pest species and how this is driven by cold winters.

My research focuses on the intersection of the environmental and climatic factors affecting the phenology of individual species, conservation biological control and community ecology. My goals are to understand the influence of global climate and land-use change using field work and long-term historic data sets to identify drivers of population variability and community resilience. As a woman who does science it took me far too long to see myself as a scientist. Integrating my intersectional identities with my scientific identity, rather than apart from it, helped me realize that science benefits from having many perspectives as we seek to understand the complexity of our natural world.  

Aoife Cantwell-Jones

Aoife’s blog post Bee declines: what’s the stress all about? highlights the importance of museum collections and show how bumblebee wings have become increasingly asymmetrical since 1925, a condition thought to be caused by stressful conditions during development.

Aoife (she/her) is a PhD researcher at Imperial College London. Her PhD focuses on better understanding how bumblebees interact with plants, and how these interactions could be jeopardised by climate change. Amazingly, most of her current research is done by hiking up and observing bumblebees on a mountain in Arctic Sweden, working alongside a team of incredible master’s students and interns. Before her PhD, Aoife did her undergraduate and master’s at Imperial, through which she joined a project that used museum specimens to track signatures of “stress” in British bumblebees over the 20th century. Aoife has also had the opportunity to work alongside scientists at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (researching how plant diversity can improve food security); the University of Vienna, Austria (looking at how climate change affects plant roots); and James Cook University, Australia (studying what insects can tell us about historic climates). After her PhD, she hopes to continue in academia, continuing to study insect pollinators and their interactions with plants, to ensure they can be effectively conserved in the face of global change. Aoife has been inspired by many amazing female scientists and teachers, and challenges Biology to do even better to improve inclusivity across traditionally less diverse domains, like fieldwork.

Almost 50%: representation of women within Journal of Animal Ecology

This International Women’s Day, Journal of Animal Ecology’s Editors reflect on the path to improving the representation of women within our editorial board, and invite you to discuss how we, as a journal, may continue to support gender diversity overall.

In 2007, Journal of Animal Ecology was in a period of growth. Submissions had increased greatly over the preceding years and our editorial board consisted of 43 expert ecologists covering a range of specialties within the diverse animal ecology field. Over the next seven years, growth continued, with submission numbers rising from just under 800 in 2007 to just over 1000 in 2014. And the board kept up; increasing to 64 individuals. Things were looking good. That was until we turned our attention to the balance of male and female editors.

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Some of the faces that have made up your journal editorial board

In 2014, just 14.1% of our editors (Senior and Associate) were female. This was actually an improvement on the 4.7% in 2007 but nowhere near representative or balanced enough. Clearly, something had to be done if the journal was going to reflect, not only society at large, but also the diversity of ecologists who may submit manuscripts to the journal.

It was at around this time that active efforts to increase gender diversity began to ramp up. When approaching people to join the board, and through our open calls, the journal made a conscious effort to approach and support more women whose scientific expertise were (and still are) an asset to the journal. A further seven years later, in 2021, 44 of our 95 editors were female, and today, there are 87 expert researchers on Journal of Animal Ecology’s board; 43 of them are women. That’s 49%. Finally, near something that reflects our society – both the British Ecological Society, where current membership data shows 55% female, 42% male, 1% non-binary, 2% prefer not to say and 1% prefer to self-describe; and beyond.

Former Executive Editor, Ken Wilson was largely responsible for leading the charge to increase the representation of women on the board, of course with enthusiastic support by the rest of the editorial team and the BES:

This is one of the things I am most proud of from my time as Executive Editor, but it wasn’t without its detractors because although we managed to achieve gender parity, in the process we also had to lose a number of excellent long-serving (male) Associate Editors who had been with us for the maximum nine years. Hopefully, the current Senior Editors can continue to diversify the editorial board even further.

Importantly, we note that in the above we have referred to female and male, women and men, but we fully recognise the fact that there are multiple dimensions within and beyond gender diversity. Like the rest of the BES, Journal of Animal Ecology is committed to promoting a community of ecologists which is as diverse as possible. We are pleased with where we are as a journal but believe there is more to be done so that our editorial board, and our authors, reflect the incredible diversity of ecologists working on the ecology of animals in every corner of the world.

We remain all ears regarding how members of the BES, our authors, and ecologists more broadly would like us to continue improving. Please do not hesitate to get in touch at

Journal of Animal Ecology Senior Editors: Jean-Michel Gaillard, Darren Evans, Lesley Lancaster and Nate Sanders
Editorial Office: Emilie Aimé and Kirsty Scandrett

International Women’s Day 2021

This International Women’s Day we look back over the blogs from the last year, and highlight four of our favourites written by women. Celebrate women in science, and the awesome work they’ve done by checking out our favourites below, as well as a brief profile of each of the authors and links to find more of their work.

Tamara Layden

Tamara’s blog post Hidden, but not insignificant – appreciating parasites in stream ecology was one of our favourites this year. A fascinating insight into the lives of parasites, Tamara’s blog will persuade you of the importance of these small and often overlooked creatures.

Tamara (she | they) is an ecologist with over eight years of experience in academia and the nonprofit sector. She currently manages a freshwater ecology lab at Reed College and also serves on the Environmental Professionals of Color leadership team, the Oregon Zoo Community Advocacy Council, and chairs a committee on the Portland Parks & Recreation Advisory Board. Tamara is passionate about supporting ecosystem and community resiliency through scientific research, community development, and social justice and wildlife advocacy. She has a variety of experience in the environmental field and is committed to wildlife conservation and cultivating an inclusive community of scientists, land stewards, and outdoor enthusiasts. Twitter and Instagram handle: @TamaraLayden

Felicie Dhellemes

Felicie’s blog Personality and pace-of-life in free-ranging lemon sharks: a field recipe is a really original blog, and a firm favourite of the year. Felicie presents her study as a recipe, giving you the ingredients and all the steps you need to follow in her footsteps researching lemon shark personality, as well as lots of great photos of sharks and her field site.

On or under the water is where you are most likely to find Félicie Dhellemmes. After a masters in engineering, this young behavioural ecologist spent four years in the Bahamas collecting data for her PhD investigating personality in a coastal shark species: the lemon shark. As a project leader at the Bimini Biological Field Station ( and the Save our Seas foundation (, Félicie gained extensive field experience and is not scared to get her hands dirty. Some of her most recent work from this project on personality and pace-of-life was featured in our blogs. Her interests are not limited to sharks: She is involved in a project on striped marlin and recently started a post-doc on Northern Pike. She hopes to expand her species range to birds and terrestrial species in the future. Twitter: @FelicieDh (Photo credit: Shin Sirachai Arunrugstichai)

Ana M. Gonzalez

Ana’s blog post A migratory bird’s journey from the Andes of Colombia to North America: Leave early and take it easy or leave late and migrate fast?, another favourite from this year, tells the story of one Swainson’s thrush, Pecas (Freckles). She follows his journey from Colombia all the way to Canada, highlighting the patterns of migration in this species. You can also read her blog in Spanish, here.

Ana was born and raised in the Andean mountains of Colombia. Her passion for birds and migration took her to Canada 13 years ago, where she obtained a M.Sc. and a Ph.D. degree at the University of Saskatchewan. Currently, Ana is a postdoctoral researcher with Environment and Climate Change Canada @ECCCSciTech and a researcher with the Colombian organization “Selva” @Selvaorgco. She has studied migrants across their full annual cycle in Colombia, Mexico, and North America. In her research, she integrates behavioral and demographic field data with state-of-the-art tracking techniques to provide foundational scientific information needed to support international and local conservation strategies for several Neotropical migrants of conservation concern. Twitter handle: @AnaCardellina. Follow hashtags #MotusWTS (operated by @BirdsCanada) #cienciacriolla to see more.

Friederike Gebert

Friederike’s blog Large mammals at Mount Kilimanjaro: the importance of resource availability and protected areas gives a real insight into the story behind her paper, and what inspired her study. Including some lovely camera trap photos of mammals on Mt Kilimanjaro, it’s definitely one to read!

Friederike studied biology at the University of Freiburg and at the University of Leeds. During her studies, she spent two months at the Bilsa Biological Station, Ecuador, and has been fascinated by tropical entomology ever since. After her diploma on epigeal arthropods, she completed an internship in the Coleoptera Department of the Natural History Museum, London. She did her PhD at the University of Würzburg about mammals and dung beetles on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Currently, she is a postdoc at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) where she investigates the biodiversity of aquatic and terrestrial insects in Switzerland. Twitter handle: @Freaky_G88. Website:

The inaugural Sidnie Manton Award

In May 2016 we launched a new competition for early career ecologists to write a Synthesis or Review article for the journal. Today, on International Women’s Day, we are pleased to announce that we have named the new award in honour of Sidnie Manton and present the six shortlisted papers for the inaugural award.

Sidnie Manton was a highly regarded zoologist best known for her work on the functional morphology and evolution of arthropods, also known as simply “the high priestess of the arthropods” (Fortly 2008). She was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1948 becoming only the seventh women to achieve the accolade. Sidnie Manton’s legacy to science is her vast body of work and observational studies (Fryer 1980).

demonstrating to students

Sidnie Manton demonstrating to students. Photo kindly provided by Elizabeth Clifford.

Sidnie Manton was known for her exceptional illustrations in her published work. She also had an incredible ability for multitasking; she combined these skills when lecturing and would astound students by drawing a complex diagram with her left hand while simultaneously labelling it with her right!

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Original illustration of a head of a springtail by Sidnie Manton. Photo kindly provided by Elizabeth Clifford.

We are delighted to be able to name the prize for an outstanding Synthesis or Review paper by an early career author in honour of such an inspiring, creative and passionate zoologist as Sidnie Manton. We are grateful to Elizabeth Clifford, Sidnie Manton’s daughter for providing photos and fascinating insights into her mother’s life.

Shortlisted papers

And here they are, the six shortlisted papers. The articles listed below are the contenders for the inaugural Sidnie Manton Award. Each of these articles successfully passed the initial proposal review as well as the full rigorous peer review process for Journal of Animal Ecology. They are a strong collection of papers reviewing and synthesising highly topical areas. The authors have also each written a blog post to introduce their work.

Check out the next issue of the journal (87:3) where we will announce the winner! We will shortly be reopening the competition, keep an eye on the blog for updates.


Fortey, R. (2008). The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum: Dry Store Room No. 1.

Fryer, G. (1980). “Sidnie Milana Manton. 4 May 1902 – 2 January 1979”. Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 26: 327–356.


International Women’s day

International Women_s day

Today is International Women’s day, an annual event celebrating the achievements of women all over the world and helping to drive positive change to achieve gender parity.

The latest Global Gender Gap report by the World Economic Forum reveals that progress towards closing the gender gap over the past year has been ambiguous at best. In the UK, for example, the pace of change has slowed over the past three years.

The World Economic Forum predicts that the gender gap won’t close entirely for another 170 years. In response, the 2017 IWD campaign is asking everyone to #BeBoldForChange to spur faster change.

In this blog post, some of our female Associate Editors offer their perspectives on the recent changes they have observed for women in science, and share the experiences that shaped and inspired their careers. Continue reading

Solving the skewed sex ratio on science journal editorial boards

On this blog in October 2014, Senior Editor, Tim Coulson presented an argument for solving the sex ratio problem in scientific academia. He proposed that we should mandate that universities and institutes appoint equal numbers of men and women at each professional level from faculty positions though to full professors. Whilst the skewed sex ratio in academia has been long recognised and discussed, there is another bias much closer to home that has received significantly less attention: the male-bias on many science journal editorial boards. To coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8th, I thought it would be useful to highlight this important issue.

Back in 2014, just 13% of Journal of Animal Ecology Associate Editors were female, and none of our Senior Editors were. Whilst sex ratios on other ecology journals were generally much better than this, none of them were anywhere near to sex ratio parity. So, why was this and what have we done to try to remedy this?

Journal of Animal Ecology has four senior editors, three of whom (Ben Sheldon, Jean-Michel Gaillard and Nate Sanders) have been appointed in the last 2-3 years. During this period, we strongly encouraged women to apply, but we received only a small handful of applications from women. Did we do enough to encourage experienced women to apply? Evidently not. Each of the Senior Editors involved in the shortlisting processes did informally encourage good candidates to apply – both female and male – and all of our Associate Editors at the time were also encouraged to apply. In addition, the advertisements for the positions, specifically suggested that we wanted applicants who would add to the ‘diversity’ of the Senior Editor board.

So what can we do to address this issue? We could pledge to always interview at least one female applicant, regardless of where they rank overall on our shortlist (a sort of female Rooney Rule). But based on previous pools of applicants, I am sceptical as to whether this would be of help in the ultimate goal of recruiting female Senior Editors. A different approach is required. Perhaps the solution to our Senior Editor problem is to appoint more female Associate Editors, in the hope that it will promote a stronger pipeline to the senior positions.

Correcting the male-bias of the AE board is a laudable goal in itself, of course, and for the last 2-3 years we have been taking positive action to appoint more female AEs. This is not to say that we have exclusively appointed only women, but we have followed a policy of first exhaustively considering a pool of potential female candidates. In so doing, we have improved the sex ratio from 13% in 2014 to 36% in March 2016. This has been a relatively easy process, but has not been without issues. From personal experience, I have found that when we approach suitable male candidates for AE positions, the first response is generally very positive and mostly they accept without further discussion. In contrast, female candidates are much more likely to either decline immediately due to other commitments (this is especially true of non-tenured professors in the US), or to request further information about the role and the time commitment involved. Of course the latter is a very sensible approach and perhaps just reflects a difference between the sexes in common sense!

It is my hope to achieve equality on the AE board in the not too distant future. Once we achieve this target, we hope that it can be maintained in the long term, but this will probably not happen without continued positive action, as the pool of suitable individuals (mostly experienced early-mid career faculty) is consistently male-biased.

To stimulate further discussion on these issues, I asked one of our Associate Editors, Sheena Cotter, to think about them from her personal perspective as an early-mid career female academic. Her response is below and will, I hope, encourage others to enter the discussion.

One final thought. Gender, of course, is not the only diversity issue academic journals face. I write this blog from the Universidade Federal de Viçosa in Brazil, where I have just given a presentation to staff and students on ‘How to Get Published’ from an Editor’s perspective. For my audience, an equally pressing issue is how we address the geographical and ethnic imbalance of the editorial board (and, indeed, of the papers we publish), which is still overwhelmingly in favour of white Europeans and North Americans. If we can simultaneously address all of these issues, we will be doing very well indeed.

Let us have your thoughts.

Ken Wilson, Senior Editor

A response from one of our female Associate EditorsCotter, S

When Ken told me that the editorial board of JAE had been just 13% female when he took over as Senior Editor, I wasn’t particularly surprised. The pool is smaller. The number of women in ecology is very close to parity at undergraduate, PhD and postdoctoral levels, but then starts to decline dramatically. To be approached to be an Associate Editor, a woman would have to have a certain level of experience, and by lecturer level there are already fewer females than males. I also suspect women may be less prominent than men at the same stage of their career. If the choice of who to approach is determined in part by who you are aware of in a certain field, then this may be driven by how much scientists promote themselves via networking at conferences, organising meetings and seminars, sitting on grant committees etc. It is likely that women with young families spend less time on these activities than men as they typically require time spent away from home.

There is also “unconscious bias” associated with gender. We are all susceptible to it, I don’t recall a single female lecturer when I was an undergraduate and I doubt I remarked upon it, because scientists were always men. I’m still sometimes surprised when an ambiguously named scientist turns out to be female, my default assumption is male. This may seem fairly harmless until you are in a position to recruit and you may inadvertently prefer a male candidate over an equally, or better, qualified female one. So to increase the percentage of female AEs you just have to identify suitable candidates and approach them, right? Well, apparently not, because it seems that women are more likely to say no. This was a surprise.

When I was approached to take on the role of Associate Editor for JAE, I was delighted and jumped at the chance. However, at that point I was a NERC fellow with minimal teaching duties and no children. The potential extra workload didn’t cross my mind. But many potential female candidates for AE will be trying to balance a heavy workload and a young family and may be loath to add to that burden. Before I had kids I couldn’t understand the claim that having children was the reason that women dropped out of academia, because most women don’t have children on their own, they have them with men, and presumably there are as many men with young families as there are women. So what’s going on? Of course, I don’t really know the answer, I can only talk from personal experience.

First, the physical act of carrying and then delivering a child (or two – I’m lucky enough to have twins…) is physically exhausting. I couldn’t work as hard while I was pregnant as I could beforehand. Second, it takes over your brain in a way that it doesn’t seem to for the father. Babies become real to women much earlier on in the process than they do for men. I spent so much of my time thinking and reading about pregnancy, the birth, new babies, what we’d need to buy, how our lives would change etc., that I really got hardly any work done at all. Once the baby is born, something happens to your brain, at least in the short term, and this is something that highly intelligent female colleagues have also experienced. I found it incredibly difficult to concentrate on science when my children were babies. I don’t think this really happens to men. They might still be very involved and do their fair share around the house and take their turn at night feeds (if possible) but I don’t think they experience the “brain melt”, and this takes a while to get over.

Now that my children are a bit older (2, 2 and 4), I think my brain functions just fine, but my priorities have definitely changed. I used to quite regularly stay late at work during the week and at the weekends, but now I always leave work by 5pm and only work in the evening on weekends if I absolutely have to. I am not prepared to miss the evening with my children during the week. At the weekend, I spend the day with my children and running around after 3 small ones from 6am to 7pm is pretty exhausting so working in the evening is a challenge. Shouldn’t this be true of men too? I’m sure it is true of many men, but I have also worked with several male colleagues at the same career stage as me, with young children, who regularly stay late at work. I’m not aware of any women who do this. So if I was asked to be an AE now would I jump at the chance? Of course I would, but I know what to expect; if I didn’t, given my massively increased workload since becoming a tenured lecturer and the increased priority of time with my children, if I didn’t know what to expect I’d certainly ask!

So how do we increase the number of female AEs? We approach suitably qualified female candidates and make it clear that the workload isn’t onerous and you can balance it by reducing the numbers of papers you accept to review. It is a prestigious position, increases your profile and looks good on your CV. It is vital to increase the visibility of female scientists as this can help to redress the unconscious association of “science” with “men” and increasing the pool of experienced female AEs will hopefully result in one of us applying to be a Senior Editor in the near future – watch out Ken!

Sheena Cotter, Associate Editor