Our cover image is a photo of a male downy woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens). These birds compete for territories by producing drum displays, in which they rapidly hammer their bill against trees and other objects. Schuppe and Fuxjager’s paper High-speed displays encoding motor skill trigger elevated territorial aggression in downy woodpeckers shows that the speed at which a drum is produced encodes information about a signaler’s motor skill, which listeners then use to evaluate the degree of social threat. Downy woodpeckers that produce faster drums elicit a more robust aggressive response from territorial residents. (Photo credit: Neal Lewis. Photo License: Public Domain Mark 1.0.)
Also in this issue, Vincent Viblanc’s FE Spotlight: Macrophysiology as a powerful tool for evaluating metapopulation stress and the effectiveness of conservation actions looks at Lea et al’s Non-invasive physiological markers demonstrate link between habitat quality, adult sex ratio and poor population growth rate in a vulnerable species, the Cape mountain zebra, which shows how a non-invasive approach can be used at a metapopulation scale to evaluate on-going conservation strategies (both papers are free online).
This is a bumper issue, with papers on plant physiological ecology, animal physiological ecology, behavioural ecology, community ecology, ecosystems ecology, plant-animal interactions and evolutionary ecology.