The launch of BMC Zoology

Attention everybody! We are excited to inform you that BMC Zoology, the latest addition to the BMC series, has launched today with an interesting mix of original research and review articles. All launch articles are openly and freely available on our website together with a launch editorial written by the editors that provides a comprehensive introduction to the journal.

I am delighted to announce that BMC Zoology, a new open access, peer-reviewed journal within the BMC series launches today. BMC Zoology will increase and disseminate zoological knowledge through the publication of original research, methodology, database, software and debate articles.

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change (Charles Darwin)

As humans, we have always had great interest in the other species we share our world with, past and present. Some we have domesticated and even formed very special bonds with over the centuries. We can only estimate how many millions of species co-exist with us on our planet, but we do know that most remain to be described.

Aims and scope

With the launch of BMC Zoology, the BMC series aims to complement its current portfolio of animal research to provide a forum for new species descriptions and original research that further our understanding of the world’s fauna. With BMC Ecology, BMC Evolutionary Biology, BMC Veterinary Research, and now BMC Zoology, the BMC-series portfolio can offer authors a home for all research manuscripts that report scientifically valid results on all components of our planet’s rich diversity.

BMC Zoology will serve as a resource for researchers, students, organizations and charities with an interest in zoology and conservation, freely, openly and permanently accessible. Like all journals in the BMC series, BMC Zoology will not make editorial decisions on the basis of perceived interest of a study or its likely impact, but rather on the basis of its scientific soundness.

The Journal is ideal to present analyses drawing on large, long-term data sets. The online nature of BMC Zoology makes it well suited to presenting large amounts of data or copiously illustrated articles (e.g. taxonomic revisions). We also welcome manuscripts that contribute to the science-policy dialog by publishing science-based commentaries aimed at influencing policy makers for which the debate article type will be the ideal forum.

BMC Zoology has seven editorial sections:

  • Systematics and biogeography
  • Biotic interactions
  • Cognition, sensory biology, signaling and communication
  • Conservation and wildlife monitoring
  • Life history
  • Comparative physiology and morphology
  • Sociobiology, parental and sexual behavior

Editorial sections

More than 2000 years ago, Aristotle took notes on animal observations and even established classifications. We still classify animals today and the scientific discipline is called taxonomy. Studies related to the description of new zoological taxa, their evolutionary interrelationships and geographic distribution will be considered in the systematics and biogeography section. As Luiz Malabarba, Associate Editor for BMC Zoology explains, the journal considers a range of studies from simple descriptions of new species to new classifications based on evolutionary relationships; or they may deal with the impact of newly explored characters on our understanding of the evolution and distribution of any taxonomic group of animals.

The biotic interactions section, headed by Section Editor Serge Morand, welcomes studies on parasitism, symbiosis and immunity. Parasite diversity appears considerable although often cryptic. Studies are needed to investigate the co-diversification and co-interactions of hosts and their parasites. Important questions remain regarding the host factors that may explain the diversity and diversification of parasites, and correlatively the effects of parasitism and symbiosis on the diversity and diversification of their hosts including the evolution of their life-history traits.

The cognition, sensory biology, signaling and communication section of BMC Zoology will particularly welcome manuscripts that present valid theoretical developments as well as rigorous empirical studies that draw together different aspects of cognition and sensory biology. As Section Editor Brock Fenton points out, making connections to similar studies with other subject species will enhance the readership and impact of the articles.

Due to the variety of animals, zoology is a very broad field and many zoologists specialize in the study of a particular functional, structural or ecological aspect by specializing in one particular group of animals, or both. Irrespective of their specialization, most zoologists also have a strong interest in conservation and wildlife monitoring. As Laurence Packer, Section Editor for BMC Zoology explains, our planet is entering the 6th mass extinction as a result of human impacts on all aspects of the world’s animal and plant life. Human survival depends upon the maintenance of biological diversity in ways that are often complex and poorly understood. Yet it is precisely this understanding that is required to permit conservation of as much of our remaining biological diversity as possible.

Our planet is entering the 6th mass extinction – human survival depends upon the maintenance of biological diversity

Thomas Flatt, the Section Editor for the life history section describes his field as one that seeks to explain how natural selection ‘designs’ organisms to achieve and optimize reproductive success under specific environmental conditions and given intrinsic organismal constraints. Typical life history traits include age and size at maturity, number, size and sex ratio of offspring, age-specific schedules of fertility and survival, and lifespan among others. These traits are key components of fitness and thus direct targets of natural selection.

Many zoologists focus on how cells, organs and organisms communicate by understanding the informational flow within and between cells, tissues, organs and organisms. As Bernhard Lieb, Associate Editor for the comparative physiology and morphology section explains, a major research topic in animal physiology remains the question on how homeostasis is achieved. Homeostasis means to keep you comfortable and constant which for animals mean the ability to explore new worlds and niches.

One aspect we have not yet mentioned is research on the behavior of animals which is often the first and most sensitive response of an organism to changes in its environment. As Herbert Hoi, Section Editor for the sociobiology, parental and sexual behavior section explains, investigations on how animals adapt to new conditions and their resulting behavior is timely and important. We can imagine that children who consume large amounts of unhealthy food and grow up without forming social bonds through the interaction with other children may display unwanted behavioral traits as adults. In non-human animals, increasing or decreasing population densities, rapid changes in physical and social environments, human disturbance and rapid changes in their parasite community or disease risk have an impact on behavior.

Launch articles

BMC Zoology has published its first set of articles today which is an exciting mix of original research and review articles:

  • Sonia Kleindorfer and Rachael Dudaniec review the host-parasite ecology, behavior and genetics of the introduced fly parasite Philornis downsi and its host Darwin’s finch (view article)
  • Edward Narayan and Michelle Williams review the dynamics of physiological impacts of environmental stressors on Australian marsupials with a focus on the koala (view article)
  • Jan Terje Lifjeld and colleagues present an original research article on species-level divergences in multiple functional traits between the two endemic subspecies of Blue Chaffinches on the Canary Islands (view article)
  • J. Antonio Baeza investigated and published a research article on active parental care, reproductive performance, and a novel egg predator affecting the reproductive investment in the Caribbean spiny lobster (view article)
  • Marcelo Rodrigues describes new research on the cellular basis of bioadhesion of the freshwater polyp Hydra (view article)
  • Daniel Shain’s original research article describes a new species of Hirudo by investigating the historical biogeography of Eurasian medicinal leeches (view article)
  • Naomi Prosser investigated the body condition scoring of Bornean banteng in logged forests (view article)

I invite you to browse through these articles on the BMC Zoology website. My colleague Yaiza del Pozo Martín has summarized the evolutionary ornithology articles by Sonia Kleindorfer and Jan Terje Lifjeld in another blog which I highly recommend to the interested reader. The launch of BMC Zoology is accompanied by an editorial written by the Editors where we provide a comprehensive introduction to the journal.

I would like to encourage all those with an interest in the journal to get in touch with the Editor and to provide us with feedback and suggestions on how to improve the journal as we continuously strive to better serve the community. I hope you will find this first set of articles a pleasant and worthwhile read.

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