Get a JAE

‘That was really quick!’ This is the feedback I got from my co-authors after I shared with them the acceptance of our paper in the Journal of Animal Ecology (JAE). I submitted this manuscript to the journal on August 17th at the Washington Dulles International Airport after attending the 100th ESA Annual Meeting. On September 14th, I received the decision letter requiring major revision. After two months’ hard work, I returned the revised manuscript on November 10th to the author center. One week later, it was accepted! I should say that it was a wonderful moment finding an acceptance letter when checking your email. For this paper, it was also a great experience to complete the publication process in three months.

I acknowledge that JAE is one of my dream journals. I have kept on trying JAE in recent two years. This was my third time submitting a manuscript to JAE and finally I nailed it. Supposed two years ago, I don’t think I can publish a paper in JAE because to date, only a handful of Chinese ecologists have published their work in JAE, although the journal was established 80 years ago. Now my dream comes true.

I am so lucky. Behind the luck, some reasonable reasons made my success. The key one is collaboration. Without my collaborators’ insightful comments and inputs, the publication process might be slow down, or even failed. Besides collaborations, I here highlight the potential contributions from the reviewers, who are the backstage heroes.

Reviewers might be the person who read your manuscript most carefully before your paper is online. They are generous to provide detailed and constructive suggestions and comments. Following their comments, the manuscript would be improved a lot. In this way, we should thank the reviewers. However, reviewers also act as the gatemen of journals who reject your paper. In this way, authors might get frustrated who received negative comments from reviewers.

At the beginning, I did somewhat hate the reviewers because I thought the job of the reviewers is to reject submitted manuscripts. I believe everyone will treat his or her final manuscript as the best one as they invested a huge time on it. When the author gets the rejection letter from the journal, they will feel sad and think it should be the faults of reviewers who wrote the negative recommendations.

I realized that reviewers are not bad guys until I became a reviewer. I accepted three invitations of review in last month. I have put a significant time on each manuscript to write a review by pointing out the novelty and weakness of the manuscript. This voluntary task is not an easy job, but it is a good opportunity for junior scientists to learn how the publication processes operate.

I have already heard from my colleagues that we should respect reviewers’ comments because they help you improve the manuscript either anonymously or onymously. Generally, the reviewers will be anonymous when you receive the rejection letter, but they will add their names in the end of the review as they think at least – they should be rewarded for their fair and constructive reviews, such as thanking them in the Acknowledgements. Indeed, I have benefited a lot from the reviewers’ comments in my previous publications. Although it is pretty hard to deal with some tough but good comments from reviewers, the manuscript will be improved much better after the revision.

We should thank the reviewers. Suppose the manuscript is rejected, it doesn’t matter. We can revise and improve it according to the reasonable comments and try another journals. This is the rule of publication game. Just hang it there and keep on trying.

Posted by Xingfeng Si from Jiulongshan National Nature Reserve in Zhejiang, China where I participate the camera trapping project.

Begin the abstract of our paper Selective extinction drives taxonomic and functional alpha and beta diversities in island bird assemblages in Journal of Animal Ecology (PDF):

1. Taxonomic diversity considers all species being equally different from each other, and thus disregards species’ different ecological functions. Exploring taxonomic and functional aspects of biodiversity simultaneously can better understand the processes of community assembly.

2. We analyzed taxonomic and functional alpha and beta diversities of breeding bird assemblages on land-bridge islands in the Thousand Island Lake, China. Given the high dispersal ability of most birds at this spatial scale (several kilometers), we predicted (i) selective extinction driving alpha and beta diversities after the creation of land-bridge islands of varying area, and (ii) low taxonomic and functional beta diversities that were not correlated to spatial distance.

3. Breeding birds were surveyed on 37 islands annually from 2007 to 2014. We decomposed beta diversity of breeding birds into spatial turnover and nestedness-resultant components, and related taxonomic and functional diversities to island area and isolation using power regression models (for alpha diversity) and multiple regression models on distance matrices (for beta diversity). We then ran simulations to assess the strength of the correlations between taxonomic and functional diversities.

4. Results revealed that both taxonomic and functional alpha diversities increased with island area. The taxonomic nestedness-resultant and turnover components increased and decreased with difference in area, respectively, but functional counterparts did not. Isolation played a minor role in explaining alpha- and beta-diversity patterns. By partitioning beta diversity, we found low levels of overall taxonomic and functional beta diversities. The functional nestedness-resultant component dominated overall functional beta diversity, whereas taxonomic turnover was the dominant component for taxonomic beta diversity. The simulation showed that functional alpha and beta diversities were significantly correlated with taxonomic diversities, and the observed values of correlations were significantly different from null expectations of random extinction.

5. Our assessment of island bird assemblages validated the predictions of no distance effects and low beta diversity due to pervasive dispersal events among islands, and also suggested that selective extinction drives taxonomic and functional alpha and beta diversities. The contrasting turnover and nestedness-resultant components of taxonomic and functional beta diversities demonstrate the importance of considering the multifaceted nature of biodiversity when examining community assembly.
Xingfeng Si /
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