Highlighted Student Papers

Papers in this category will be published under the heading 'Highlighted Student Research', and will be included in the initial topical section of the journal issue in which it is published. Furthermore, each highlighted paper will be featured in the Springer Table of Contents Alerts that is sent to more than 10,000 e-subscribers each month.

This initiative is intended to honor the highest quality student research, and papers must be recommended for this honor by Handling Editors for Oecologia, following the normal peer review process.

Students who wish their papers to be considered for the honor should explain in the cover letter the main reasons why the paper represents an outstanding contribution to the field, and indicate such wish by marking the appropriate box for the Oecologia Highlighted Student Research paper during the online submission process.


Announcing winners of the Ehleringer and Hanski Prizes for outstanding papers published by student authors in Oecologia in 2018.

Since 2017, the Editorial Board of Oecologia has awarded the Ehleringer and Hanski Prizes to the best papers submitted each calendar year and published in Oecologia in the Student Highlighted Research section. This section is reserved for papers that describe research conducted as part of a student's thesis or dissertation during undergraduate or graduate studies. Post-doctoral research is not eligible for this honor. Each year a committee constituted from the editorial board of Oecologia reviews all eligible papers and selects one for each award. The awards consist of a monetary prize and a highlighted profile of the paper and author published in one issue of the journal. For papers submitted in 2018, the prize is $500US.  The papers are available for free access from the Oecologia website for a two-month period following the announcement.

We are proud to name the best paper annually in plant ecology and plant-microbe-animal interactions to honor Professor James Ehleringer. Professor Ehleringer has served as an editor with Oecologia since 1982, and served as Editor-in-Chief between 1989-2006. His research expertise in stable isotope ecology and his dedication to international collaborations and promotion of graduate student and post-doctoral studies in this area helped establish Oecologia as one of the premier journals representing this discipline. He is an elected Fellow of the Ecological Society of America, the American Geophysical Union, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the US National Academy of Sciences.  

We are proud to name the best student paper annually in all areas of animal ecology to honor the late Professor Ilkka Hanski (1953-2016). Professor Hanski had diverse interests in ecological questions on threats and maintenance of biodiversity starting from dung beetle communities to forest biodiversity and island biogeography. Prof. Hanski's 1999 book, Metapopulation Ecology, became a cornerstone for researchers in population biology, conservation biology and landscape ecology. Among many honors, Prof. Hanski was awarded ecology's Nobel Prize, the Crafoord Prize in Biosciences in 2011. Training students, discussing ideas and commenting manuscripts of young scientists his top priority. He served on the Oecologia editorial board in 1991 - 2007. This award covers papers in the areas of animal ecology, including topics in animal ecophysiology, animal food-web and interaction-web ecology, animal population and community ecology, and invasive animal ecology.

Graduate student’s wishing to have their papers considered for these awards need only to request consideration for the Highlighted Student Paper section.

Neuer InhaltThis year, the recipient of the Ehleringer Prize is Sara L. Jackrel, from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, where she is a Post-doctoral Fellow and Dow Sustainability Fellow.  Her paper is entitled “Inducible phenotypic plasticity in plants regulates aquatic ecosystem functioning” (Oecologia 2018, 186: 895–906; DOI 10.1007/s00442-018-4094-6). This paper reports an interesting and creative study designed to look at the consequences of induced (plastic) responses of terrestrial plants on ecosystem processes in adjacent aquatic ecosystems.  The authors demonstrate that induced defense responses depended on nutrient availability on land, which had effects on litter decomposition in the water. This paper represents an original approach to understanding the complexity of the plant response when faced with variation in nutrient availability and herbivory pressure.

Inducible phenotypic plasticity in plants regulates aquatic ecosystem functioning

Neuer InhaltThe Hanski Prize is awarded to Zachary MacDonald, from the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta.  Zac is a student in Scott Nielsen’s laboratory.  His paper is entitled, “Decoupling habitat fragmentation from habitat loss: butterfly species mobility obscures fragmentation effects in a naturally fragmented landscape of lake islands” (Oecologia 186:11–27. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-017-4005-2). This study of butterfly assemblages tests the “Habitat Amount” hypothesis, which proposes that the size and isolation of habitat fragments has no effect on species diversity; only the aggregate amount of habitat determines the number of species persisting on fragmented landscapes. By differentiating between reproducing and transient butterfly species on individual islands based on larval food plant availability, the authors demonstrated that inter-fragment movements of highly mobile species could inflate the observed diversity of small habitat fragments, obscuring important fragmentation effects on resident species diversity.

Decoupling habitat fragmentation from habitat loss: butterfly species mobility obscures fragmentation effects in a naturally fragmented landscape of lake islands

Congratulations to the winners and all authors of the Highlighted Students Papers submitted in Oecologia in 2018.