British Ecological Society announces UQ winner

30 Apr 2021
Dr Natalie Jones
UQ's Dr Natalie Jones

The British Ecological Society (BES) has announced the winners of its journal prizes for research published in 2020, with The University of Queensland's Dr Natalie Jones taking out the Elton Prize - awarded each year for the best paper in the Journal of Animal Ecology written by an early career author.

Dr Jones was awarded this year’s prize for their article Predators drive community reorganization during experimental range shifts.

In the winning article, Dr Jones (formerly at the University of California, San Diego and now at UQ) simulated climate warming and elevational migration by zooplankton in the presence and absence of fish predators.

“I found that the ‘winners’ of climate change were species with smaller body sizes, a commonly hypothesized outcome of warming, except my experiment was able to attribute this change to an alternate mechanism: size-selective predation,” Dr Jones said.

“I hope that this paper will serve as a foundational example of research linking trophic interactions to range shifts.”

Nate Sanders, Senior Editor of Journal of Animal Ecology said that figuring out how biotic and abiotic factors influence the assembly of novel communities is complicated.

"There are a lot of ins and a lot of outs; a lot of strands to keep in your head," he said.

"Dr Jones and her colleagues were able to keep those strands in their heads and designed an elegant study aimed at documenting the ins and outs of the combined and relative effects of warming and fish predation on the assembly of novel zooplankton communities.”

The prizes are awarded annually, and winning papers are selected by the Senior Editors of the journal, with awards 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.