Call for papers: Emerging Techniques and the Future of Biogeography

Biogeography advances when new concepts, methodologies and tools allow us to see the world in different ways: plate tectonics reshaped the study of distributions, deep sea submersibles revealed life at hydrothermal vents, phylogeography was born through advances in sequencing, and macroecology originated in a novel top-down statistical view, to name but a few. We are in a new age of innovation wherein the rapid emergence of new technologies can provide unparalleled information from the smallest to the largest spatial scales, from individuals to communities, and from seconds to millennia. Integrating the data created by these technologies will require new analytical tools and ways of thinking and possibly new ways of doing biogeography. Success will be measured in our ability to reshape the frontiers of human knowledge and to gain deeper insight into fundamental biogeographic processes, and in predictive analytics that can address the current existential crises in biodiversity and climate. But challenges to attaining those goals include:

  • How to collect and access data that permit modelling of processes in near-real-time in a rapidly changing world.
  • How to accurately map distributions at all geographic scales across time
  • How to move beyond mainstream statistical approaches (both frequentist and Bayesian) to more data-driven approaches (e.g. leveraging Artificial Intelligence) that reveal mechanisms and processes
  • How to validate/advance models and to develop new theory

Meeting these challenges is a pursuit in many domains of knowledge, and we are interested explicitly in their application in, and how they will (or are) transform(ing) biogeography through integration across fields and scales to develop a truly holistic and responsive discipline.

We are organising a special issue in Journal of Biogeography to explore the contributions of technological innovations in tools, data and models, their application, and their potential to shape the future of biogeographical research. We encourage multidisciplinary research teams and new ideas or approaches. In this thematic issue we will publish original novel papers in the following broad areas and, particularly, their integration:
(1) DNA-based technologies: e.g. ancient DNA, environmental DNA, metabarcoding, metagenomics
(2) Remote sensing: e.g. recent innovations in data including hyperspectral imageries, radar, new data access platforms, loggers & trackers, UAVs & robots, sound ecology & acoustics, analyses of imagery from public domains such as flickr, and culturomics/‘iBiogeography’.
(3) Analyses: Machine learning and artificial intelligence application for species recognition, species distribution modeling, land-cover and -use mapping, other ecological and biogeographic models, new mathematics for new problems, and genetics and genome skimming.
(4) Integration and syntheses: e.g. connections, movement, networks, across scales and through time; conceptual benefits from technological development; including critiques.

Contributions may be in any of the usual original research formats at JBI: 1) Letter, 2) Research Article, 3) Methods and Tools, 4) Data, 5) Synthesis, and 6) Perspective. For more information, please see our author guidelines.

Manuscripts should be submitted online at until 30 April 2022 for priority consideration for the special issue; manuscripts may continue to be submitted through 30 June 2022 for consideration for additional special sections. Authors should indicate in the Cover Letter that the submission is directed to the ‘ET&FB Special Issue’.

  • Accepted papers will be published online in Early View with the plan to be later collated into a Special Issue / Sections to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the journal in January 2023.
  • All submissions are subject to peer review.
  • Papers will be free to read for at least 2 months from the date of online publication.

Special issue editors
Kumar Mainali –
Rachel Meyer –
Michael Noonan –
Monica Papes –
Lynne Parenti –
Fabricio Villalobos –

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Contributing to the growth and societal relevance of the discipline of biogeography through dissemination of biogeographical research.

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