October 22, 2019

Coevolution

Recent Papers


Lucas D. Fernandes, Paula Lemos-Costa, Paulo R. Guimarães Jr., John N. Thompson, and Marcus A. M. de Aguiar


Denon Start, Arthur E. Weis, and Benjamin Gilbert



Elliot G. Aguilar and Erol Akçay

Scott L. Nuismer, Bob Week, and Marcelo A. Aizen


Marco Túlio P. Coelho and Thiago F. Rangel


Natural History Note
Alain Dejean, Frédéric Petitclerc, Arthur Compin, Frédéric Azémar,1 Bruno Corbara, Jacques H. C. Delabie, and Céline Leroy




Speciation

Recent Papers

Tim Janicke,Lucas Marie-Orleach,Thomas G. Aubier,Charles Perrier,Edward H. Morrow

Free Access
Rampal S. Etienne, Juliano Sarmento Cabral, Oskar Hagen, Florian Hartig, Allen H. Hurlbert, Loïc Pellissier, Mikael Pontarp, and David Storch



Sonal Singhal, Huateng Huang, Maggie R. Grundler, María R. Marchán-Rivadeneira, Iris Holmes, Pascal O. Title, Stephen C. Donnellan, and Daniel L. Rabosky




Sonal Singhal, Huateng Huang, Maggie R. Grundler, María R. Marchán-Rivadeneira, Iris Holmes, Pascal O. Title, Stephen C. Donnellan, and Daniel L. Rabosky

John J. Schenk and Scott J. Steppan

Open Access

Synthesis, Open Access
Roger K. Butlin and Carole M. Smadja

Synthesis
Michael Kopp, Maria R. Servedio, Tamra C. Mendelson, Rebecca J. Safran, Rafael L. Rodríguez, Mark E. Hauber, Elizabeth C. Scordato, Laurel B. Symes, Christopher N. Balakrishnan, David M. Zonana, and G. Sander van Doorn

Evolutionary Genetics

Recent Papers 




Martin Brengdahl, Christopher M. Kimber, Jack Maguire-Baxter, Antonino Malacrinò, and Urban Friberg


Martin Brengdahl, Christopher M. Kimber, Jack Maguire-Baxter, Antonino Malacrinò, and Urban Friberg
Lay summary: https://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/DecBrengdahl.html

Introgression across Hybrid Zones Is Not Mediated by Large X-Effects in Green Toads with Undifferentiated Sex Chromosomes
Jörn F. Gerchen, Christophe Dufresnes, and Matthias Stöck

Note
Chronological and Biological Age Predict Seasonal Reproductive Timing: An Investigation of Clutch Initiation and Telomeres in Birds of Known Age
Carolyn M. Bauer, Jessica L. Graham, Mikus Abolins-Abols, Britt J. Heidinger, Ellen D. Ketterson, and Timothy J. Greives
Lay summary: https://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/JuneBauer.html

Symposium
Sebastian J. Schreiber, Swati Patel, and Casey terHorst

Symposium
Julia N. Ossler and Katy D. Heath

Host/Pathogen Interactions

Recent Papers


Lauren L. Truitt, Scott H. McArt, Andrew H. Vaughn, and Stephen P. Ellner

Patrick A. Clay, Kailash Dhir, Volker H. W. Rudolf, and Meghan A. Duffy


Daniel J. Becker, Celine E. Snedden, Sonia Altizer, and Richard J. Hall


Cannibalism and infectious disease: friends or foes?
Benjamin G. Van Allen, Forrest P. Dillemuth, Andrew J. Flick, Matthew J. Faldyn, David R. Clark, Volker H. W. Rudolf, and Bret D. Elderd
Lay summary: http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/SepVanAllen.html

The Role of the Environment in the Evolution of Tolerance and Resistance to a Pathogen
Michael Zeller and Jacob C. Koella

Open Access
Quantitative Genetic Variation in, and Environmental Effects on, Pathogen Resistance and Temperature-Dependent Disease Severity in a Wild Trout
Paul Vincent Debes, Riho Gross, and Anti Vasemägi
Lay summary: http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/AugDebes.html

Open Access
Population Density, Not Host Competence, Drives Patterns of Disease in an Invaded Community
Catherine L. Searle, Michael H. Cortez, Katherine K. Hunsberger, Dylan C. Grippi, Isabella A. Oleksy, Clara L. Shaw, Solanus B. de la Serna, Chloe L. Lash, Kailash L. Dhir, and Meghan A. Duffy




Behavioral Ecology

Recent Papers

Note
Alyssa Laney Smith, Daniel Z. Atwater, and Ragan M. Callaway

Eva M. A. Kok, Joseph B. Burant, Anne Dekinga, Petra Manche, Darren Saintonge, Theunis Piersma, and Kimberley J. Mathot

Rémi Patin, Daniel Fortin, Cédric Sueur, and Simon Chamaillé-Jammes

Open Access
Moshe Zaguri, Yaara Zohar, and Dror Hawlena

Early and Adult Social Environments Shape Sex-Specific Actuarial Senescence Patterns in a Cooperative Breeder
Vérane Berger, Jean-François Lemaître, Dominique Allainé, Jean-Michel Gaillard, and Aurélie Cohas
Lay summary: https://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/OctVBerger.html

Born to Run? Quantifying the Balance of Prior Bias and New Information in Prey Escape Decisions
Nicholas M. Sutton and James P. O’Dwyer
Lay summary: https://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/SepSutton.html

Metabolic Scope as a Proximate Constraint on Individual Behavioral Variation: Effects on Personality, Plasticity, and Predictability
Peter A. Biro, Theodore Garland Jr., Christa Beckmann, Beata Ujvari, Frederic Thomas, and John R. Post
Lay summary: https://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/AugBiro.html

Sex Allocation Theory for Facultatively Sexual Organisms Inhabiting Seasonal Environments: The Importance of Bet Hedging
Nina Gerber, Isobel Booksmythe, and Hanna Kokko

Mechanistic Models of Conflict between Ant Colonies and Their Consequences for Territory Scaling
Frederick R. Adler, Sean Quinonez, Nicola Plowes, and Eldridge S. Adams
Lay summary: https://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/AugAdler.html

Intraspecific Variation in Learning: Worker Wasps Are Less Able to Learn and Remember Individual Conspecific Faces than Queen Wasps
Elizabeth A. Tibbetts, Allison Injaian, Michael J. Sheehan, and Nicole Desjardins

Learning to Cooperate: The Evolution of Social Rewards in Repeated Interactions
Slimane Dridi and Erol Akçay
Lay summary: http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/JanDridi.html

Seasonal Food Scarcity Prompts Long-Distance Foraging by a Wild Social Bee
Nathaniel S. Pope and Shalene Jha
Lay summary: http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/JanPope.html

Constraints Imposed by a Natural Landscape Override Offspring Fitness Effects to Shape Oviposition Decisions in Wild Forked Fungus Beetles
Corlett W. Wood, Eric W. Wice, Jill del Sol, Sarah Paul, Brian J. Sanderson, and Edmund D. Brodie III

Genomics

Recent Papers

Open Access
Diana Jessie Rennison, Kira E. Delmore, Kieran Samuk, Gregory L. Owens, and Sara E. Miller

Molly C. Womack, Marissa J. Metz, and Kim L. Hoke

Symposium
Locke Rowe, Stephen F. Chenoweth, and Aneil F. Agrawal

Symposium
Michael J. Song and Sarah Schaack

Anna Runemark, Laura Piñeiro Fernández, Fabrice Eroukhmanoff, and Glenn-Peter Sætre

Open Access
Kenji Matsuura, Nobuaki Mizumoto, Kazuya Kobayashi, Tomonari Nozaki, Tadahide Fujita, Toshihisa Yashiro, Taro Fuchikawa, Yuki Mitaka, and Edward L. Vargo


Adaptation

Recent Papers 

Introduction to Special Feature on Maladaptation
Steven P. Brady, Daniel I. Bolnick, Rowan D. H. Barrett, Lauren Chapman, Erika Crispo, Alison M. Derry, Christopher G. Eckert, Dylan J. Fraser, Gregor F. Fussmann, Andrew Gonzalez, Frederic Guichard, Thomas Lamy, Jeffrey Lane, Andrew G. McAdam, Amy E. M. Newman, Antoine Paccard, Bruce Robertson, Gregor Rolshausen, Patricia M. Schulte, Andrew M. Simons, Mark Vellend, and Andrew Hendry

Free Access, Special Feature on Maladaptation
Olivier Cotto, Linnea Sandell, Luis-Miguel Chevin, and Ophélie Ronce

Free Access, Special Feature on Maladaptation
Mark C. Urban, Alice Scarpa, Justin M. J. Travis, and Greta Bocedi

Special Feature on Maladaptation
Andrew G. McAdam, Stan Boutin, Ben Dantzer, and Jeffrey E. Lane

Special Feature on Maladaptation
Jeffrey E. Lane, Zenon J. Czenze, Rachel Findlay-Robinson, and Erin Bayne


James H. Peniston, Michael Barfield, and Robert D. Holt

Christopher J. Dibble and Volker H. W. Rudolf



Free Access, Synthesis
Yvonne Willi and Josh Van Buskirk

Historical Comment
Raymond B. Huey, Theodore Garland Jr., and Michael Turelli

Free Access
Hanna ten Brink, André M. de Roos, and Ulf Dieckmann

American Society of Naturalists Address
Kathleen Donohue


Olof Leimar, Sasha R. X. Dall, John M. McNamara, Bram Kuijper, and Peter Hammerstein

Open Access
Sidney F. Gouveia, Rafael P. Bovo, Juan G. Rubalcaba, Fernando Rodrigues Da Silva, Natan M. Maciel, Denis V. Andrade, and Pablo Ariel Martinez



Extreme Insolation: Climatic Variation Shapes the Evolution of Thermal Tolerance at Multiple Scales
Kaitlin M. Baudier, Catherine L. D’Amelio, Rumaan Malhotra, Michael P. O’Connor, and Sean O’Donnell
Lay summary: https://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/SepBaudier.html

Plant Strategies along Resource Gradients
Thomas Koffel, Tanguy Daufresne, François Massol, and Christopher A. Klausmeier

Genomic Contingencies and the Potential for Local Adaptation in a Hybrid Species
Anna Runemark, Laura Piñeiro Fernández, Fabrice Eroukhmanoff, and Glenn-Peter Sætre
Lay summary: https://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/JulyRunemark.html

Open Access
Maternal Effects in a Wild Songbird Are Environmentally Plastic but Only Marginally Alter the Rate of Adaptation
Jip J. C. Ramakers, Marleen M. P. Cobben, Piter Bijma, Thomas E. Reed, Marcel E. Visser, and Phillip Gienapp
Lay summary: http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/JulyRunemark.html

Constraints Imposed by a Natural Landscape Override Offspring Fitness Effects to Shape Oviposition Decisions in Wild Forked Fungus Beetles
Corlett W. Wood, Eric W. Wice, Jill del Sol, Sarah Paul, Brian J. Sanderson, and Edmund D. Brodie III
Abstract: http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/AprWood-A.html

Female Density-Dependent Chemical Warfare Underlies Fitness Effects of Group Sex Ratio in Flour Beetles
Imroze Khan, Arun Prakash, Swastika Issar, Mihir Umarani, Rohit Sasidharan, Jagadeesh N. Masagalli, Prakash Lama, Radhika Venkatesan, and Deepa Agashe
Abstract: http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MarKhan-A.html

October 18, 2019

Life History

Recent Papers

David N. Reznick, Ronald D. Bassar, Corey A. Handelsman, Cameron K. Ghalambor, Jeff Arendt, Tim Coulson, Tomos Potter, Emily W. Ruell, Julián Torres-Dowdall, Paul Bentzen, and Joseph Travis


Special Feature on Maladaptation
Andrew G. McAdam, Stan Boutin, Ben Dantzer, and Jeffrey E. Lane




Michał Bogdziewicz, Magdalena Żywiec, Josep M. Espelta, Marcos Fernández-Martinez, Rafael Calama, Mateusz Ledwoń, Eliot McIntire, and Elizabeth E. Crone

Alycia C. R. Lackey, Michael P. Moore, Jacqueline Doyle, Nicole Gerlanc, Ashley Hagan, Morgan Geile, Chris Eden, and Howard H. Whiteman

Open Access, Special Feature on Maladaptation
Olivier Cotto, Linnea Sandell, Luis-Miguel Chevin, and Ophélie Ronce

Synthesis
Nathan I. Wisnoski, Mathew A. Leibold, and Jay T. Lennon

Lea M. Callan, Frank A. La Sorte, Thomas E. Martin, and Vanya G. Rohwer

E. Keith Bowers, Jonathan B. Jenkins, Alexander J. Mueller, Kelly D. Miller, Charles F. Thompson, and Scott K. Sakaluk


Oscar Vedder, He Zhang, Andreas Dänhardt, and Sandra Bouwhuis

Note (an F1000 recommendation as Exceptional)
David T. Iles, Robert F. Rockwell, and David N. Koons

Edward J. Almond, Timothy J. Huggins, Liam P. Crowther, Joel D. Parker, and Andrew F. G. Bourke

Martin Brengdahl, Christopher M. Kimber, Jack Maguire-Baxter, Antonino Malacrinò, and Urban Friberg


Vérane Berger, Jean-François Lemaître, Dominique Allainé, Jean-Michel Gaillard, and Aurélie Cohas


Note
Generation Time in Structured Populations
Stephen P. Ellner

Evolution of Complex Asexual Reproductive Strategies in Jellyfish
Nicolas Azaña Schnedler-Meyer, Simone Pigolotti, and Patrizio Mariani

Collapse, Tipping Points, and Spatial Demographic Structure Arising from the Adopted Migrant Life History
Luke A. Rogers, Anne K. Salomon, Brendan Connors, and Martin Krkošek
Lay summary: http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/JulyRogers.html

Life-History Multistability Caused by Size-Dependent Mortality
Barbara Taborsky, Mikko Heino, and Ulf Dieckmann

Note
Chronological and Biological Age Predict Seasonal Reproductive Timing: An Investigation of Clutch Initiation and Telomeres in Birds of Known Age
Carolyn M. Bauer, Jessica L. Graham, Mikus Abolins-Abols, Britt J. Heidinger, Ellen D. Ketterson, and Timothy J. Greives
Lay summary: http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/JuneBauer.html

Morph-Specific Patterns of Reproductive Senescence: Connections to Discrete Reproductive Strategies
Andrea S. Grunst, Melissa L. Grunst, Vince A. Formica, Marisa L. Korody, Adam M. Betuel, Margarida Barcelo-Serra, Sarah Ford, Rusty A. Gonser, and Elaina M. Tuttle
Lay summary: http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/JuneGrunst.html

How Life History Shapes Optimal Patterns of Senescence: Implications from Individuals to Societies
Natalie J. Lemanski and Nina H. Fefferman

Host Traits Drive Viral Life Histories across Phytoplankton Viruses
Kyle F. Edwards and Grieg F. Steward

Phylo-Allometric Analyses Showcase the Interplay between Life-History Patterns and Phenotypic Convergence in Cleaner Wrasses
Vikram B. Baliga and Rita S. Mehta

Open Access
The Geometry of Nutrient Space–Based Life-History Trade-Offs: Sex-Specific Effects of Macronutrient Intake on the Trade-Off between Encapsulation Ability and Reproductive Effort in Decorated Crickets
James Rapkin, Kim Jensen, C. Ruth Archer, Clarissa M. House, Scott K. Sakaluk, Enrique del Castillo, and John Hunt
Lay summary: http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/AprRapkin.html

Pluck or Luck: Does Trait Variation or Chance Drive Variation in Lifetime Reproductive Success?
Robin E. Snyder and Stephen P. Ellner
Lay summary: http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/AprSnyder.html

Natural History Note
Extreme Climate-Induced Life-History Plasticity in an Amphibian
François S. Becker, Krystal A. Tolley, G. John Measey, and Res Altwegg
Lay summary: http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/FebBecker.html

Life-History Traits Evolved Jointly with Climatic Niche and Disturbance Regime in the Genus Leucadendron (Proteaceae)
Jeanne Tonnabel, Frank M. Schurr, Florian Boucher, Wilfried Thuiller, Julien Renaud, Emmanuel J. P. Douzery, and Ophélie Ronce






Evolutionary Dynamics

Recent Papers

Open Access
Diana Jessie Rennison, Kira E. Delmore, Kieran Samuk, Gregory L. Owens, and Sara E. Miller

Note
Alyssa Laney Smith, Daniel Z. Atwater, and Ragan M. Callaway

Maxime Deforet, Carlos Carmona-Fontaine, Kirill S. Korolev, and Joao B. Xavier

Alycia C. R. Lackey, Michael P. Moore, Jacqueline Doyle, Nicole Gerlanc, Ashley Hagan, Morgan Geile, Chris Eden, and Howard H. Whiteman



Open Access


Open Access

Open Access
Hanna ten Brink, André M. de Roos, and Ulf Dieckmann




American Society of Naturalists Address
Kathleen Donohue


Natural History Note
Robin M. Tinghitella, E. Dale Broder, Gabrielle A. Gurule-Small, Claudia J. Hallagan, and Jacob D. Wilson

Anna M. O’Brien, Ruairidh J. H. Sawers, Jeffrey Ross-Ibarra, and Sharon Y. Strauss



Amanda K. Gibson, Lynda F. Delph, Daniela Vergara, and Curtis M. Lively


Multicellularity Drives the Evolution of Sexual Traits
Erik R. Hanschen, Matthew D. Herron, John J. Wiens, Hisayoshi Nozaki, and Richard E. Michod
Lay summary: https://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/SepHanschen.html

Geographic Range Dynamics Drove Ancient Hybridization in a Lineage of Angiosperms
Ryan A. Folk, Clayton J. Visger, Pamela S. Soltis, Douglas E. Soltis, and Robert P. Guralnick
Lay summary: https://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/AugFolk.html

Open Access
Evolution and Manipulation of Vector Host Choice
Sylvain Gandon
Lay summary: https://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/JulyGandon.html

The Role of Pleiotropy in the Evolutionary Maintenance of Positive Niche Construction
Rebecca H. Chisholm, Brian D. Connelly, Benjamin Kerr, and Mark M. Tanaka

Temporally Autocorrelated Environmental Fluctuations Inhibit the Evolution of Stress Tolerance
Daniel J. Wieczynski, Paul E. Turner, and David A. Vasseur
Lay summary: https://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/JuneWieczynski.html

Note
The Price Equation, Gradient Dynamics, and Continuous Trait Game Theory
Jussi Lehtonen
Lay summary: https://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/JanLehtonen.html

Natural History Note, Open Access
Loss of Color Pigmentation Is Maintained at High Frequency in a Monkey Flower Population
Alex D. Twyford, Aaron M. Caola, Pratibha Choudhary, Ramesh Raina, and Jannice Friedman
Lay summaryhttps://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/JanTwyford.html

Sex-Specific Heterogeneity in Fixed Morphological Traits Influences Individual Fitness in a Monogamous Bird Population
Floriane Plard, Susanne Schindler, Raphaël Arlettaz, and Michael Schaub
Lay summary: https://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/JanPlard.html

Learning to Cooperate: The Evolution of Social Rewards in Repeated Interactions
Slimane Dridi and Erol Akçay
Lay summary: https://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/JanDridi.html

Thermoregulatory Behavior Simultaneously Promotes and Forestalls Evolution in a Tropical Lizard
Martha M. Muñoz and Jonathan B. Losos
Lay summary: http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/JanMunoz.html

Natural Selection

Recent Papers

Emily M. McLean, Elizabeth A. Archie, and Susan C. Alberts

Special Feature on Maladaptation
Andrew G. McAdam, Stan Boutin, Ben Dantzer, and Jeffrey E. Lane





Denon Start, Arthur E. Weis, and Benjamin Gilbert

Open Access


American Society of Naturalists Address

Alexandra M. Sparks, Kathryn Watt, Rona Sinclair, Jill G. Pilkington, Josephine M. Pemberton, Susan E. Johnston, Tom N. McNeilly, and Daniel H. Nussey

Natural History Note
James C. Mouton and Thomas E. Martin

Symposium
Casey P. terHorst, Peter C. Zee, Katy D. Heath, Thomas E. Miller, Abigail I. Pastore, Swati Patel, Sebastian J. Schreiber, Michael J. Wade, and Matthew R. Walsh


Open Access
Cécile Meunier, Sara Hosseini, Nahid Heidari, Zaywa Maryush, and Hanna Johannesson

Host-Parasite Interactions

Recent Papers


Daniel Hanley, Karel Gern, Mark E. Hauber, and Tomáš Grim

Eleanor Tanner, Andy White, Peter W. W. Lurz, Christian Gortázar, Iratxe Díez-Delgado, and Mike Boots

Lauren L. Truitt, Scott H. McArt, Andrew H. Vaughn, and Stephen P. Ellner


Within-Host Priority Effects Systematically Alter Pathogen Coexistence
Patrick A. Clay, Kailash Dhir, Volker H. W. Rudolf, and Meghan A. Duffy
Lay summary: https://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/FebClay.html

Sexual Conflict and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): Coevolution of Sexually Antagonistic Host Traits with an STI
Alison M. Wardlaw and Aneil F. Agrawal

Natural Selection on Antihelminth Antibodies in a Wild Mammal Population
Alexandra M. Sparks, Kathryn Watt, Rona Sinclair, Jill G. Pilkington, Josephine M. Pemberton, Susan E. Johnston, Tom N. McNeilly, and Daniel H. Nussey
Lay summary: https://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/DecSparks.html

Open Access

Amanda K. Gibson, Lynda F. Delph, Daniela Vergara, and Curtis M. Lively

Open Access
Maya L. Groner, Jeffrey D. Shields, Donald F. Landers Jr., John Swenarton, and John M. Hoenig



Natural History Note
Living on the Edge: Parasite Prevalence Changes Dramatically across a Range Edge in an Invasive Gecko
Andrew Coates, Louise K. Barnett, Conrad Hoskin, and Ben L. Phillips


Demography

Recent Papers

Note
Aaron S. David, Pedro F. Quintana-Ascencio, Eric S. Menges, Khum B. Thapa-Magar, Michelle E. Afkhami, and Christopher A. Searcy



Gaurav Baruah, Christopher F. Clements, Frédéric Guillaume, and Arpat Ozgul


Alan G. Leach, James S. Sedinger, Thomas V. Riecke, Amanda W. Van Dellen, David H. Ward, and W. Sean Boyd

Open Access
Niklas L. P. Lundström, Nicolas Loeuille, Xinzhu Meng, Mats Bodin, and Åke Brännström

Open Access
Emilius A. Aalto, Fiorenza Micheli, Charles A. Boch, Jose A. Espinoza Montes, C. Broch Woodson, and Giulio A. De Leo


Arne Jungwirth and Rufus A. Johnstone

Andrew W. Bateman, Arpat Ozgul, Martin Krkošek, and Tim H. Clutton-Brock


July 22, 2019

Associate Editors


Associate Editors that join The American Naturalist's editorial board are given a set of detailed guidelines for the practical side of being an AE: how to use Editorial Manager, for instance, to select reviews or return a recommendation to the Editors once reviews are in. But there are also parts of this job that we assume Associate Editors know, without necessarily articulating it clearly. We assume that new AEs know the journal's editorial style from having been reviewers for us, and having received reviews and decisions when submitting to us. But, it always helps to make some expectations explicit, so the Editors of the journal decided we should more clearly articulate our vision of the role of Associate Editors at The American Naturalist.

There is a lot of negativity about the peer review process today. In person and on social media, scientists love to complain about the reviews that seem unreasonable, the decisions that felt cursory. In contrast, our journal office regularly receives ‘thank you’ emails, even from authors whose papers we declined. For example, last week I received a thank-you from an author whose paper I declined without even sending to an AE. I had spotted what I considered a fundamental logical flaw in the paper, and tried to kindly but firmly explain why it was a problem, the author couldn’t claim their data was evidence for the phenomenon they claimed. The authors used that feedback to rethink their approach to interpreting the data, collected additional data, and ultimately generated a stronger paper at another equally-good journal. I’ve seen papers we rejected end up in Ecology Letters and other high-end journals. I don’t see that as a failure on our part, but rather a success: we helped authors improve their papers, contributing to the quality of the published literature, even if it ended up at a competing journal. Of course, this is only a helpful contribution on our part if our reviews and decision letters pushed the authors to go an extra step to improve the clarity of their writing, accuracy of their analysis and interpretation, or add key data.

Authors recognize this value-added. At the Evolution meeting this summer I had numerous people praise the review process at the American Naturalist. I’ve seen similarly complimentary comments on Twitter. And I think this is a key part of our brand. Yes, we aim to publish conceptually innovative cross-cutting work. But we also aim to provide a positive review and decision-making experience, whatever the outcome. So, what does that mean for our expectations for you, our Associate Editors?

1)      Look at the paper carefully before review, and decide if it is worth using reviewer time. At this stage, I normally take notes that help me later with writing a decision letter.

2)      If you believe it is not a sufficiently important advance, or has flaws that will raise serious barriers to publication, write a review that clearly explains your logic. Editorial declines without review, by you or by me, should come with enough of a review that authors are convinced we read the paper carefully, and thought about it. It should contain enough feedback that authors feel the submission was worthwhile even if they did not get accepted, because it helps them adjust their approach for the next journal.

3)      Sometimes, a paper has real but unrealized potential: there’s a gem of an idea, but it is buried in shoddy writing, a flawed model or statistical analysis, poor graphics.  You know it’s not going to survive peer review very well, but you think it mightstand a good chance if the authors fix it up first. This is where the Editorial Decline Without Prejudice (DWOP) comes into play. You have a chance to send this back to the authors with a clear statement of what the value of the paper could be, and what needs to happen to realize that potential. You are doing everyone a favor here: the authors have a better shot at success, you save the reviewers by helping them see a better paper first. I’ve found that authors are shocked and thrilled to have an editor or AE give them pre-review feedback to improve their chances with reviewers. This strategy shouldn’t be applied to all papers, but to those with really high value but which will almost surely encounter serious but avoidable reviewer resistance.

4)      When reviews come in, write a review of your own. I tended to first read the reviews, then I would revisit the paper’s text, figures, and tables and any notes I took on my first look through. I would then write a review that includes:

a.      My own feedback on the paper, on points that the reviewers may have missed.
b.      A summary of the essential points from reviewers (and my own reading) that either preclude further consideration, or that must be dealt with in a revision.
c.       If you disagree with the reviewers on some point, or need to arbitrate between conflicting reviews,  do so while being respectful to the reviewers. This is important when the reviewers ask for something unreasonable, or especially when they express themselves in an overly aggressive or negative manner. You are an arbiter who can provide a buffer between the authors and a mean or thoughtless reviewer. Luckily, I rarely feel like this is an issue, which speaks well of our reviewers, but it does happen sometimes.

5)      Keep a lookout for ‘diamonds in the rough’: a paper with a great underlying idea, a unique dataset, that might get negative reviews in its current form, but which might be truly great with work. Sometimes one is tempted to just knee-jerk decline papers that get negative reviews. But look closely. Some of our best papers were met with initially very critical reviews, or editorial DWOPS that might have been declines. I want to especially draw your attention to this blog post by Meg Duffy (now one of our AEs):
In this post, Meg describes a paper that was initially rejected from Ecology, and might easily have been rejected from AmNat next. But, then-AE Yannis Michalakis delved deeply into the paper. Through a series of revisions, his careful recommendation letters led Meg and co-author Spencer Hall (also now an AE) to hone the paper into a publication that went on to win the Ecological Society of America’s Mercer Award. I think we’d all aspire to be the AE who helps hone an initially rough submission into a citation classic. 

6)      Note, of course, that this doesn’t mean you should never decline papers. Not everything is a citation-classic in the making. We should also avoid endless cycles of revision and re-review, and you should feel free to recommend "decline" for papers that don't improve after resubmission or revision. Authors are likely to be upset if their paper ultimately gets declined after multiple rounds of revision, so it’s best to try to assess how likely the authors are to be able to address the editors’ and reviewers’ major concerns after the first round of review or first revision, and decline papers that are unlikely to improve sufficiently to meet our requirements. Again, it is rare for us to hear from an irate author, but when we do it is almost always because their paper got declined after two or more reviews.

7)      Keep in mind that, at Am Nat, the three Editors also play an active role in assessing papers and reviews, and that the Editor might occasionally disagree with your recommendation or might feel the need to seek additional advice on a paper. Please don’t feel offended when this happens. Editors see many manuscripts and try to ensure that all submissions are treated fairly while also monitoring our overall acceptance rate. Editors may often change a recommendation of “Major Revision” to “DWAP” or vice versa, or might change a “DWOP” to a “Decline”. Sometimes this is because we see something differently than you do. In cases of more serious disagreement, the Editor may discuss the manuscript with you and try to reach a consensus. More often, it is because we are trying to manage the bulk flow of papers into print. If we accept too many papers, we get a backlog and authors get upset about delayed printing. If we accept too few papers per month for a while, we might have too few articles to physically bind together into a print issue. So, one of the Editors’ jobs is to quietly manage the overall acceptance rate. The most effective way for us to do this is to nudge papers from Decline to DWOP or vice versa, or from DWOP to major revision or back.

8)   Find the right balance between pushing authors to improve their writing, while allowing them to retain their own voice as writers. It sometimes happens that a great scientific idea comes wrapped in hard-to-read prose. It is okay to guide authors through the difficult process of improving their writing. It can make all the difference between a great idea that nobody reads, and a great idea that moves the field in a new direction. But, try not to push authors out of a perfectly sound and readable writing style, that might differ from your own.

9)  Make a decision.  You don't always need to take reviewers' time, especially when receiving a revision. If the authors have made substantial technical changes, that you are not in a position to evaluate, then of course send a revision back out for review. But in general our first instinct should be to read the response letter and manuscript ourselves to decide whether the authors satisfied the reviewers' concerns. If so, check the manuscript for any remaining concerns, and try to reach a final decision. For more about re-review, and also the DWOP / Decline distinction, see a previous editors blog post here: http://comments.amnat.org/2017/11/an-open-letter-from-incoming-amnat.html 


In sum, handling a paper as AE for AmNat requires a bit more than a typical review that you might do for another journal.  I want to articulate these expectations explicitly to discourage the temptation to write relatively cursory decision letters, that mostly just summarize a couple of key points from the reviews. I understand that temptation. We editors sometimes succumb it ourselves by just pointing to your recommendations or the reviews, without adding much (especially on days with a half dozen decision letters to write). But I always strive to have at least a few insights of my own to add. When authors know that the AE and Editor have read their paper carefully enough to have their own opinions (as opposed to echoing reviewers’ opinions), they feel like their paper has been given a fair evaluation. 

Dan Bolnick
Editor-in-Chief
American Naturalist
July 2019