Editor's Choice March

Submitted by editor on 4 March 2019.

The first editor’s choice is the forum by Patrick & Yuan: ‘The challenges that spatial context present for synthesizing community ecology across scales’. The rationale for their forum is the common mismatch between community theory and its application within a landscape ecological context. Typically, the measurement of biodiversity patterns is highly dependent on the landscape context, while inference of the ecological and evolutionary processes that underlie those patterns are derived from theoretical perspectives that idealise landscapes. The authors bring this problem not only under attention; they also provide solutions to address this issue by resampling datasets to correct for variation in sampling density, spatial arrangement, and scale. Patrick & Yuan subsequently provide illuminating  examples on how this proper resampling processes allows a profound understanding of the processes that shape ecological communities at landscape scales.
The meta-analysis ‘Belowground community responses to fire: meta‐analysis reveals contrasting responses of soil microorganisms and mesofauna’ by Pressler and collaborators is our second editor’s choice. With an increasing awareness of the importance of fires for many soil-ecological processes, the authors synthesised the evidence on soil microorganisms and mesofauna response to short fire disturbances.  They compiled in this respect results from 131 empirical studies and demonstrate the overall strong negative effect of fire on soil biota biomass, abundance, richness, evenness, and diversity. Importantly, they also found soil mesofauna not to mirror the responses of soil microorganismsthat were subject to most research to date. In fact, soil mesofauna appear to be more resistant to fire than soil bacteria and fungi. While fire events are usually short, the ecological impacts may last much longer. The meta-analysis showed little resilience of especially the soil microbiota within 10 years after the fire disturbance event. The authors conclude their study with a discussion of the knowledge gaps and research priorities.

Dries Bonte, Editor in Chief