Jason Fridley – Reviews Editor

Meet Jason Fridley, the Reviews Editor for Journal of Ecology! In this interview, Jason shares details of his current research, favourite plant species and first publication.

We are currently accepting proposals for our Grime Reviews series, on the topic of “What can remote sensing do for plant ecology?” Please see here for further details (deadline for proposals is 31 Jan 2021).

We’re also very excited to share our new, dedicated Reviews page on the Journal of Ecology website – you can now find all our journal’s Essay Reviews and Mini-Reviews in one place.


Tell us a bit about your research?

The work in my lab addresses the evolution of plant strategies and their role in ecosystem processes. Much of our current work involves understory forest dynamics, where we are interested in solving the riddle of why plants recently introduced from Europe and East Asia are increasingly dominant across mesic North America. The story likely involves the integration of resource-use strategies at the whole-plant level, including the role of soil microbes. I’ve also worked on understanding climate change impacts on grassland and early successional ecosystems, and I have enduring interests in plant geography and macroecology.

What kinds of reviews would you like to see submitted to Journal of Ecology?

The reviews I most enjoy reading are bold, speculative but well argued, and undogmatic, where the science is sound but authors aren’t afraid to stick their neck out. In their recent obituary of the eminent ecologist Joe Connell in Science (23 Oct), Murdoch and Sousa wrote that he was “skeptical of general theories, especially if they were his own”—which captures the essence of risk-taking and questioning that seems missing from much of the recent literature in our field. I’d also love to see ecologists use the tool of visual illustration more often, such as using hand drawings or creative digital media to articulate the central thesis of a paper.

Do you consider presubmission enquiries?

Yes! The more specific the better.

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

It was in fact an essay review (Forum) for Oikos, back in the heady early days of the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning debate. Good thing we’ve cleared all that up.

What’s your favourite species and why?

One of my many favourites is Viburnum lantanoides (hobblebush), a classic northwoods shrub of North America that has the peculiar strategy of growing sideways.

Viburnum lantanoides (hobblebush), Massachusetts, USA. Photo: Doug McGrady (CC BY 2.0).

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

Being able to play chord changes on piano with my left hand.

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

I once had a journal (not this one!) lose my paper twice. When they ultimately found it, they gave it immediate rejection. I can thereby promise that if I, as Editor, lose your submitted manuscript twice, I will at least give you the courtesy of peer review!

What’s your favourite sports team?

I’m a life-long St. Louis Cardinals fan. That’s baseball, by the way. Real baseball the way it should be played, in case any Cubs fans are reading.

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

Come visit me in Syracuse, New York, in March. It will take my mind off the weather.

Syracuse, New York, USA. Photo: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

If you’re interested in contributing to our new Grimes Reviews series, then make sure you submit your “Remote Sensing” proposal by the end of January 2021. Please see this blog post for full details.

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