Porto Wins BEC Robert May Prize

British Ecological Society announces journal prize winners 

 

Today the British Ecological Society (BES) has announced the winners of its journal prizes for research published in 2020. The prizes are awarded for the best paper by an early career researcher in seven of the BES journals: Functional Ecology, Journal of Animal Ecology, Journal of Applied Ecology, Journal of Ecology, Methods in Ecology and Evolution, People and Nature, and for the first time, Ecological Solutions and Evidence. 

The prizes are awarded annually to the best paper in each journal written by an early career author at the start of their research career. The winning papers are selected by the Senior Editors of the journals. The awards will be presented to the winners at the BES Annual Meeting in Liverpool.  

The winners receive a prize of £250, membership of the BES, a year’s subscription to the respective journal, and a contribution to the costs incurred in attending the BES Annual Meeting in the UK if they wish to give a presentation on their work.  

This year’s exceptional winning papers span topics as diverse as spirit bear genetics, coral reef productivity, plants reclaiming mining land and classifying elephants as refugees. 

The journal prize winners are as follows: 

The Robert May Prize: Arthur Porto, Louisiana State UniversityArthur Porto

The Methods in Ecology and Evolution (MEE) Robert May early career researcher award is named after Lord May, from the University of Oxford. The prize is awarded annually to the best paper submitted by an early career author at the start of their research career. The winner is selected by the Senior Editors of the Journal.

Arthur Porto has been awarded this year’s prize for their article ML‐morph: A fast, accurate and general approach for automated detection and landmarking of biological structures in images

The article presents a new approach to collecting organisms' measurements. With potentially many measurements needed in some studies, the time taken to do this can be a major bottleneck in research. 

“Taking advantage of the machine learning and state-of-the-art validation methods, the new method presented by Arthur Porto and colleagues speeds up the whole process of landmarking (identifying and measuring key parts) by orders of magnitude relative to manual measurements, with comparable accuracy.” said Rob Freckleton, Senior Editor of the journal.

Arthur Porto said: “Despite many recent advances in biology, we still spend too much time manually extracting data from images. However, the field of computer vision now offers the opportunity for us to automate image-based data collection. In our paper, we created a new, lightweight and general tool to do so.

“This research project combined my two passions: interesting biological questions with the creation of new tools. While working on this project, I was surrounded by a fantastic group of researchers (Bryozoan Lab for Ecology, Evolution and Development), who gave me the freedom and encouragement to pursue my interest in this topic.”


 

 

 

 

 

The Rachel Carson Prize: Tristan Derham, University of Tasmania

The Rachel Carson Prize is awarded each year for the best paper in the journal People and Nature written by an early career author at the start of their research career. The winner is selected by the Senior Editors of the Journal.

Tristan Derham has been awarded this year’s prize for their article Elephants as refugees

The Haldane Prize: Renato Morais, James Cook University 

The Functional Ecology JBS Haldane Early Career Researcher Award is given is given each year to the best paper in the journal from an early career author. 

Renato Morais has been awarded this year’s prize for their article: Severe coral loss shifts energetic dynamics on a coral reef 

The Elton Prize: Natalie Jones, The University of Queensland (The University of California, San Diego during the research) 

The Elton Prize is awarded each year for the best paper in the Journal of Animal Ecology written by an early career author at the start of their research career. The winner is selected by the Senior Editors of the Journal. 

Natalie Jones has been awarded this year’s prize for their article Predators drive community reorganization during experimental range shifts  

The Southwood Prize: Pu Jia, South China Normal University 

The Southwood Prize is awarded each year for the best paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology written by an early career author at the start of their research career. The winner is selected by the Senior Editors of the Journal. 

Pu Jia, has been awarded this year’s prize for their article Plant diversity enhances the reclamation of degraded lands by stimulating plant–soil feedbacks  

The Harper Prize:  

The John L Harper Early Career Researcher Award is given each year to the best paper in the Journal of Ecology by an early career author at the start of their career. The winner is selected by the Senior Editors of the Journal. 

This year two researchers have been awarded the Harper Prize: Blanca Arroyo-Correa, Doñana Biological Station, for their article Alien plants and flower visitors disrupt the seasonal dynamics of mutualistic networks and Atul Joshi, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru, for their article Frost maintains forests and grasslands as alternate states in a montane tropical forest–grassland mosaic; but alien tree invasion and warming can disrupt this balance. 

The Ecological Solutions and Evidence Prize: Christina Service, University of Victoria 

The Ecological Solutions and Evidence Prize is a new prize that will be awarded each year for the best paper in the journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence written by an early career author at the start of their research career. The winner is selected by the Senior Editors of the Journal. 

Christina Service has been awarded this year’s prize for their article Spatial patterns and rarity of the white‐phased ‘Spirit bear’ allele reveal gaps in habitat protection  

British Ecological Society 
Founded in 1913, the British Ecological Society (BES) is the oldest ecological society in the world. The BES promotes the study of ecology through a range of scientific literature, funding and events, education initiatives and policy work. The society has around 6,500 members from nearly 130 different countries. www.britishecologicalsociety.org Twitter and Instagram: @BritishEcolSoc