Virtual Issue: Animal Ecology - Legacy of Charles S Elton

Edited by Professor Ken Wilson
July 2011

Charles Elton Virtual Issue Cover In 1931, the animal ecologist Charles Sutherland Elton (1900-1991) proposed to the British Ecological Society Council that it establish a new journal for publishing papers in the 'neglected area of animal ecology'. In the following year, he became the first editor of the new Journal of Animal Ecology, a role he served in for nearly twenty years. To celebrate this anniversary, here we launch a Virtual Issue to showcase Elton’s ecological legacy.

Elton’s boyhood interest in ecology was reinforced by expeditions to the Arctic, the first of which was as an undergraduate field assistant to Julian Huxley in 1921. He subsequently worked as a consultant to the Hudson’s Bay fur-trading company, which ultimately resulted in his now classic work on population dynamics of the snowshoe hare, Canadian lynx and other Arctic vertebrates (systems that continues to provide productive material for our journal). He returned to Oxford University and established the Bureau of Animal Population, where he conducted a large body of work on small mammals and invertebrates, much of which was based on long-term studies at the University’s Wytham estate. During his long career, Elton published a number of seminal publications including the books Animal Ecology (1927), The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants (1958) and The Pattern of Animal Communities (1966).

Elton was a key figure in the growth of animal ecology in both the UK and worldwide. His legacy includes major contributions to fields as diverse as: population dynamics, invasion biology, community ecology, food chains, ecological ‘niches’, trophic interactions, dispersal dynamics and wildlife disease ecology. In this Virtual Issue, we highlight some of Journal of Animal Ecology’s recent papers in these fields (some of which cite Elton’s earlier work), as well as paying homage to some of Elton ‘classics’ published in the journal.

The ten-year cycle in numbers of the Lynx in Canada
Elton C & Nicholson M

The sensitive hare: sublethal effects of predator stress on reproduction in snowshoe hares
Sheriff, MJ; Krebs, CJ; Boonstra, R

Survival and breeding of polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea in relation to sea ice
Regehr, EV; Hunter, CM; Caswell, H, et al

Are population outbreaks in sub-arctic geometrids terminated by larval parasitoids?
Schott, T; Hagen, SB; Ims, RA, et al

Nonstationary spatio-temporal small rodent dynamics: evidence from long-term Norwegian fox bounty data
Henden, JA; Ims, RA; Yoccoz, NG

Maturation trends in red deer females over 39 years in harvested populations
Mysterud, A; Yoccoz, NG; Langvatn, R

Factors affecting unintentional harvesting selectivity in a monomorphic species
Bunnefeld, N; Baines, D; Newborn, D, et al

Competition and the structure of ecological communities
C S Elton

How does abundance scale with body size in coupled size-structured food webs?
Blanchard, JL; Jennings, S; Law, R, et al

Food chain length and omnivory determine the stability of a marine subtidal food web
Long, ZT; Bruno, JF; Duffy, JE

Food web topology and parasites in the pelagic zone of a subarctic lake
Amundsen, PA; Lafferty, KD; Knudsen, R, et al

Evidence for the involvement of an alternate rodent host in the dynamics of introduced plague in prairie dogs
Stapp, P; Salkeld, DJ; Franklin, HA, et al

The effect of seasonality, density and climate on the population dynamics of Montana deer mice, important reservoir hosts for Sin Nombre hantavirus
Luis, AD; Douglass, RJ; Mills, JN, et al

Stucture of invertebrate populations inside neotropical rain-forest
C S Elton

A multispecies perspective on ecological impacts of climatic forcing
Mutshinda, CM; O'Hara, RB; Woiwod, IP

Classic metapopulations are rare among common beetle species from a naturally fragmented landscape
Driscoll, DA; Kirkpatrick, JB; McQuillan, PB, et al

Landscape heterogeneity and marine subsidy generate extensive intrapopulation niche diversity in a large terrestrial vertebrate
Darimont, CT; Paquet, PC; Reimchen, TE

Linking movement behaviour, dispersal and population processes: is individual variation a key?
Hawkes, C

Primate communities are structured more by dispersal limitation than by niches
Beaudrot, LH; Marshall, AJ

Invasion success depends on invader body size in a size-structured mixed predation-competition community
Schroder, A; Nilsson, KA; Persson, L, et al.

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