Types of contributions

Ecology is publishing more concise papers than has been the tradition for this journal. Concise publications yield increased interest, allow a greater number of papers and topics to appear in the journal, and provide greater content per page printed. The number and average length of Articles published in Ecology is decreasing, and the number of Reports is increasing. Many publications conceived in the past as Articles will hence forth be cast as Reports, with an average length of 5-6 journal pages. Our goal is to publish Reports within one year of submission. Articles and Concepts and Synthesis papers will continue to be published in Ecology, but these will be shorter than the average Article of the past. Authors will designate portions of their manuscript as digital supporting information to appear in Wiley Online Library and be directly linked to the publication in the online version of the journal.

Length limits with respect to manuscripts refer to all pages, including title page, text, literature cited, tables and figures. Each figure will count as one page. Generally 3.5 pages of the double- spaced manuscript, inclusive of tables and figures, corresponds to one printed journal page.

Final decisions on article types are at the discretion of ESA. (i) Papers submitted/accepted as Reports or Notes that require more than 8.0 printed pages in the final version will be published as Articles. (ii) Papers submitted/accepted as Articles that occupy fewer than 6.0 pages when typeset will be published as Notes. (iii) Articles, Concepts and Synthesis, and Perspectives papers estimated to be longer than 15.0 printed pages may be transferred to Ecological Monographs for publication.

Reports. Reports are expected to disclose new and exciting work in a concise format. These papers should present results that substantially advance a field or overturn existing ideas. Accordingly, these papers will be given a prominent place near the start of the issue. We expect these will be the first papers readers turn to and that most readers will study at least the abstracts of all of them. To assure the contents are timely and to encourage submission of fast- breaking material, all submissions to the Reports section are given a  fast-track for processing and publication. Our target is a rapid editorial decision and publication within five months of acceptance.

As added incentives for authors to cast their submissions in the concise Reports format:

  • All Reports will be freely available for no extra charge (i.e., one need not be a subscriber or have institutional access in order to view full text online).
  • There will be no charge for color figures to authors of Reports.
  • By making the Reports more accessible and visually appealing, we hope to increase our readership and cement Ecology’s reputation as the place where authors publish the most important and exciting research findings in our science.
  • In order to assure rapid publication, papers must conform to a strict page limit and format. Submissions may contain up to 20 manuscript pages (double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, including everything from the title page through the last figure). The abstract can have a maximum of 200 words.


Statistical Reports. The primary goal of Statistical Reports is to increase the awareness and use of modern statistical techniques in the analysis of ecological data. Thus, Statistical Reports should be concise papers that illustrate how well-established, unfamiliar, or new statistical techniques can be applied to timely and interesting ecological questions. Statistical Reports should extend the boundaries of statistical methods and techniques normally used by ecologists, and should be presented in a way that promotes the continued evolution of good statistical practice by ecologists. To encourage the broadest use by ecologists of methods and techniques published in Statistical Reports, all data and statistical code referred to in a Statistical Report must be archived in Wiley Online Library. Submissions may contain up to 20 manuscript pages (double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, including everything from the title page through the last figure). The abstract can have a maximum of 200 words.

Notes.  Notes are short papers that present significant new observations and methodological advances. Notes may contain results that are not sufficiently elaborated or developed as to justify an Article, but are still of considerable potential significance. Submissions may contain up to 20 manuscript pages (double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, including everything from title page through the last figure). The abstract can have a maximum of 200 words.

Articles. While a Report is a concise scientific statement on a single simple topic, an Article tells a more complicated story with distinct components. The greater length of Articles relative to Reports must be justified by their greater complexity. We are asking authors to submit shorter, better-organized pieces that make use of Wiley Online Library for digital publication of appendices and supplements. Submissions are encouraged to meet the target length for Articles of between 20 and 30 manuscript pages (double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, including everything from the title page through the last figure). Longer submissions (those between 30 and 50 manuscript pages) should be accompanied by a detailed justification for the length in the cover letter at the time of submission. The abstract can have a maximum of 350 words. Manuscripts longer than 50 pages may be considered for Ecological Monographs, at the editor's discretion.

Concepts & Synthesis. The Concepts and Synthesis section publishes papers that conceptually advance the field of ecology, including reviews that lead to a more synthetic overview of a subfield. These papers are expected to go well beyond works being reviewed and include discussion of new directions, new syntheses, and resolutions of old questions. Small groups of papers will also be considered. The abstract can have a maximum of 350 words. Longer papers of this type may be submitted to Ecological Monographs.

The Scientific Naturalist.  The natural history of organisms and the landscapes they inhabit has long been the foundation of ecology, evolution, and conservation. Natural history discoveries provide great insight into the ecology or organisms which can then be subsequently tested experimentally or modeled mathematically. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in scientific natural history and the larger questions that it raises. Natural history has had a long tradition of high quality writing and art and we are pleased to continue this tradition in Ecology with the series The Scientific Naturalist.

This series is intended to attract a wide audience by showcasing the natural history of particular organisms (their morphology and behavior, their life histories, their habitats, and their roles in food webs and ecosystems). The writing should be of high quality to appeal to both a scientific as well as an educated, non-scientific audience. Submissions about animals, plants, fungi, or microorganisms are all welcome. Submissions should consist of a striking, high-quality photo documenting some interesting or previously unknown aspect of an organism's life cycle or ecology, accompanied by an essay of no more than 1500 words total, explaining why it is scientifically interesting or significant. This will cover two pages in Ecology. Submissions will be reviewed based on equal consideration of the scientific interest and writing quality of the accompanying essay and the artistic quality and natural history significance of the photo.

The photo and essay should:

  • Illustrate a rare, unusual, or fascinating organism, behavior, process, or other natural phenomenon that will inspire and engage us in natural history
  • Describe something new or important in ecology, evolution, conservation, phenology, or human–environment interactions that challenges existing theories and points in new directions
  • Represent a scientific “aha” or “wow” moment (“I didn’t know that!”) in your own research
  • Raise open questions or generate new hypotheses

The text accompanying the photo should contain something new and should not just cover previously published work; on the other hand, the paper may be a good way to announce an observation that will lead to subsequent papers. The first one or two paragraphs should call the reader’s attention to the photo and paint a picture of the natural history observation it depicts and how you came to be at the right place to make this observation. By the third paragraph, you should begin to develop some wider background about the natural history. It is important that the observation not be a one-off sighting but instead indicate something distinctly new and important. In order to put the observation into a wider context, a maximum of 15 citations can be included, if necessary. In addition to the photo a simple table or figure of data that points in the direction of new questions or plausibility of new hypotheses could be included, but the text should be shortened accordingly (a figure may be worth 1000 words, but only if it is a good figure). The essay should then conclude with some open questions or new hypotheses for further research that arise from this natural history observation. Statements of precedence (e.g., first report of X) should be avoided.

Submit high resolution jpeg or tif files of images (minimum original file size 1.5MB) together with the accompanying essay (as a Word file).  For examples of a similar series, please consult Natural History Notes in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2015-2017. The submissions will be reviewed and edited for scientific content and the quality of the writing by an editorial board devoted solely to these notes. We will make every effort to provide a short turnaround time in reviewing submissions.

Special Features. Special Features are intended to address various aspects of a theme that is likely to be of broad interest to ecologists. Ideally, a feature should teach a large audience about an unfamiliar topic or an area in which there has been considerable recent progress, or it should cause the audience to re-examine an issue that is not as settled as most have presumed. Proposals for Special Features should be addressed to the Editor-in-Chief.

There is essentially no limit to the topics for Special Features (SFs), so long as they fit within the broader scope and subject matter guidelines for Ecology. The key guideline for a SF is that the papers address aspects of a topic or theme, and that this topic or theme is likely to be of broad interest to ecologists. For more information, read here.


A Forum can take a number of forms but always includes a series of commentaries solicited from a number of experts.  These commentaries represent personal responses to a paper (or papers) considered to be of very broad interest and significance within the field of applied ecology.  Possible variations include, but are not limited to:

  • An original (published for the first time) research, review, or discussion paper, followed by a number of commentaries,
  • A paper republished (with permission) from another journal, followed by commentaries
  • An ESA report, followed by commentaries,
  • Several original papers on a common topic, followed by commentaries,
  • A Special or Invited Feature, followed by several commentaries.


The number of commentaries can depend on the nature of the Forum, but normally would not exceed six to eight.  The commentaries are reviewed by the Editor-in-Chief (EIC).

An individual interested in proposing a Forum should contact the EIC to discuss the idea.  If the EIC believes the idea should be pursued, a short proposal must be submitted for review by one or more member of the Board of Editors.

Comments and Replies. A Comment points out errors of fact or interpretation in an article that previously appeared in a published issue (not merely a preprint or Accepted Article) of Ecology, Ecological Monographs, or in an important article or book that is the basis for numerous articles being published in ESA journals. Submissions may contain up to 16 manuscript pages (double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, including everything from the title page through the last figure). No abstract is necessary.

  • Comments should be brief; our absolute limit is 16 typescript pages, including everything (cover page, text and references).
  • The title of a Comment or Reply should be of the form “[Title of the original paper up to the first colon]: Comment.”
  • Comments may be assigned to a Subject-matter Editor for evaluation.  As with regular articles, typically two reviews will be sought.  Every effort will be made to expedite the review process.
  • At the time a Comment is assigned to a Subject-matter Editor, a copy will be sent by the Publications Office to the corresponding author of the original paper.  The authors of the paper being commented upon will be offered the opportunity to submit a signed review to the Subject-matter Editor, who will view such a review as supplemental to and not a replacement for the regular reviews.  The signed supplemental review will be forwarded to the author(s) of the Comment, together with the two regular reviews and the Subject-matter Editor’s decision letter.
  • When the Comment is first sent to the authors of the manuscript being commented upon, they will be informed by receipt of this policy document that at such time as the Comment is accepted for publication, they will be sent a copy of the final version and will be invited by the Subject-matter Editor to prepare a response.  The Reply must be completed within four weeks if simultaneous publication is to be guaranteed.  Authors should submit the response online and it will be sent to the same Subject-matter Editor who handled the Comment.  The Reply will typically be reviewed by one reviewer, but the Subject-matter Editor may choose to accept the response without review in cases where the response is short and simple.
  • We will attempt to publish all comments on a particular paper plus any response together. We generally neither invite nor publish responses to responses.


Data Papers. Data Papers should emphasize the collection, organization, synthesis, and thorough documentation of data sets of ecological value. Only the abstract appears in Ecology; the data and metadata are available only in Wiley Online Library or Figshare. By providing a peer-review   process for such Data Papers, ESA hopes to provide a high-profile outlet for data compilations and recognition for ecologists who create them. Special instructions for Data Papers explain how to prepare data and metadata. See: LINK TO DATAPAPERS

Perspectives. This section, prominently featured at the beginning of the issue, is intended to contain papers that provide synthetic overview, critical commentary, or historical perspective, primarily by eminent ecologists. The MacArthur Award lectures will be published in this section. Often these will be invited papers, but proposals for submitting a Perspectives paper will be considered. Such proposals should be sent to the Editor-in-Chief. Note that coauthored papers are not appropriate for this section.

Book Reviews (up to 2 journal pages). Book Reviews are short, scholarly evaluations of recently published books and monographs of interest to ecologists. Normally, book reviews are solicited by the Book Review Editor; please do not submit offers to review a specific book. If you wish to become a reviewer, please send a current curriculum vitae, a description of competencies, and a statement of reviewing interests to the Book Review Editor.  Submit books and monographs for review to the Book Review Editor, Cristina Eisenberg, Earthwatch Institute, 114 Western Ave, Boston, MA 02134. E-mail: ceisenberg@earthwatch.org