Meet the Editor: Mark Rees

Not long to go now until the 2018 British Ecological Society Annual Meeting where you have a chance to chat to some of our Senior Editors. Get to know the people behind the decision letters in our Meet the Editor series. Below, we talk to Mark Rees.


What can you tell us about the first paper you published?

The first paper I published was in Functional Ecology on size-fecundity schedules in plants and animals with Mick Crawley. I “collected” the data by going through loads of BES journals (JAE and JE) and put all the published regression in a big table it took a couple of days – I seem to remember I mis-spelt all the latin names. Anyway we submitted it and it was immediately accepted with minor editorial changes (correcting all the mis-spellings). I remember thinking this publication lark is easier that expected, how wrong I was….

What’s your favourite species and why?

Workwise I like various monocarpic species (Carlina vulgaris) that occurs on sand dunes, one of my favourite habitats. Leisurewise I like brown trout more than is reasonable for an adult.

Who inspired you most as a student?

Mike Hassell, I was very impressed with the simplicity and clarity of mathematical arguments/models. I still use models extensively in my research, although now they have largely been accepted as a sensible way of doing science, back then it was very different.

If you could wake up tomorrow with a new skill, what would it be?

Almost any practical skill would be good, let’s go for good at DIY – I hate DIY as I typically start off with a perfectly OK thing and end up with something that no longer works or looks terrible.

Are you a good cook? What’s your signature dish?

My boys say yes but then I cook them exactly the same things on the same nights each week – this is their choice, I’m not allowed to change anything. Wednesday is pizza, Thursday is pork winky (pork fillet in sage and cream sauce with linguine), other nights are a bit more variable.

Please share a [funny] story about a paper you had rejected.

We once submitted a paper to Evolution and got a dismissive rejection letter where one of the reviewers said we’d “set the salami slicer too thin”. So off to American Naturalist, two nice reviewers so we revise, send it back, then two new reviewers who didn’t like it so it was rejected – the new reviewers complained about the bits we’d added to keep the first set of reviewers happy *sign*. Right we thought let’s try PNAS, and it went straight in. So you’ve got to keep trying even when editors and/or reviewers are dismissive.

What’s your favourite sports team?

Welsh rugby team.

If you could recommend one place for people to travel to on holiday, where would it be and why?

Not telling you, it’s quiet and beautiful and I don’t want to spoil it!

What was the first album you owned?

First single was “Part of the Union” by the Strewbs. Not sure about albums but by the time I was about 17 my record collection was mostly Bowie, some Neil Young (Harvest), Fleetwood Mac (Rumours) and Nick Drake (boxed set).

If any fictional character could join your lab, who would it be and why?

Batman (Christian Bale version – he’s from Haverfordwest!) for the voice, or Wonder Woman as she’s awesome.

How many British Ecological Society annual meetings have you attended? Which one was the best?

Lots but one in Cambridge in the 1980s (or 1990s) was a lot of fun – and very informative too, of course.

Are you attending #BES2018? If so, when is the best opportunity for people to meet you?

Yes, at the BES stand or the mixer thing.

Mark Rees is a Professor, Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, UK. His key research interests include the evolution of plant reproductive strategies, seed size and dormancy, population modelling, modelling of management strategies for weed populations, and population biology of invasive plants.

Read about our other editors:

David Gibson

Mark Rees

Richard Bardgett

Amy Austin


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