Journal of Avian Biology is seeking contributions for a Special Issue exploring the state of knowledge on avian ecological epigenetics. Manuscript Submission Deadline: October 1st 2024

Epigenetics is the study of biochemical mechanisms that stably alter gene expression without changing the primary nucleotide sequence of the genome. Such mechanisms include molecular mechanisms like DNA methylation, histone modifications and the involvement of microRNAs. In the field of ecological epigenetics, these mechanisms are studied from an ecological and evolutionary perspective. As epigenetic modifications are important regulators of phenotypic diversity, they potentially provide a proximate mechanism for environmental cues to shape phenotypic responses. Potentially, these changes might be inherited across generations, which would allow organisms to adapt to environmental change and facilitate rapid evolutionary change. 

As there is a large potential for studies on birds to answer many outstanding questions in ecological epigenetics, the number of studies on the causes and consequences of epigenetic variation in birds is rising. It is now time to gather recent empirical and theoretical insights on avian ecological epigenetics to summarize the current state of the field and develop its future directions.

The goal of this special issue is to create a collection of ecologically oriented contributions that explore causes and consequences of epigenetic variation in birds. Specifically, we encourage authors to submit original research articles, short communications, viewpoint articles, reviews or methods on the following topics (but not limited to):

  • Identifying genetic and environmental causes of inter- and intra-individual epigenetic variation.
  • Epigenetic regulation of reversible and lasting phenotypic changes (associated with e.g. early development, cognition, migration and reproduction).
  • The relationship between epigenetic variation, gene expression and phenotypic variation.
  • The role of epigenetic variation in adaptation to changing environments due to, for example, global warming, pollution, urbanization or dispersal.
  • Exploring the role of epigenetics in mediating life-history trade offs.
  • Transgenerational inheritance of epigenetic marks.
  • Identifying knowledge gaps in avian ecological epigenetic research.
  • New approaches and methodological challenges in avian epigenetics.

We encourage submissions coming from underrepresented geographic areas. If your institution does not currently have an Open Access agreement with Wiley to cover publication costs and if you are not covered through the research4life partnership, Journal of Avian Biology (JAB) is able to provide a limited number of waivers to cover publication costs. Read more here about JAB internal waivers.


How to:

If you intend to submit a manuscript for our special issue, please send a short email to any of the guest editors (see contact information below) including a tentative title, the type of article, a brief summary of the research questions and methodology, and name of the corresponding author. Please note that we do not expect any results to be included in this short description nor that the content is definitive for the resulting manuscript. The short description is merely used to assess whether your research fits the topic of the special issue. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact any of the four guest editors.

The manuscript will undergo the regular peer-review process. Please submit your manuscript through the JAB online submission system (indicate in the system and the cover letter that your manuscript is a contribution to the special issue).

As soon as an article is accepted, it will be published as an early view article on the journal webpage. All accepted articles will be published together in a JAB Special Issue.  Please, check out the author guidelines of the journal about how to prepare your manuscript before submission. 


Editors of the special issue

Rebecca Chen, Bielefeld University, Germany (rebecca [dot] chen [at] uni-bielefeld [dot] de)
Interests: the interplay between the genome and epigenome, proximate mechanisms of inter- and intra-individual variation in fitness related traits, transgenerational inheritance of epigenetic marks

Bernice Sepers, Bielefeld University, Germany (bernice [dot] sepers [at] uni-bielefeld [dot] de)
Interests: causes and consequences of epigenetic variation in wild vertebrates, importance of epigenetic variation for phenotypic variation and ultimately reproduction and survival, ultimate and proximate causes of inter- and intra-individual phenotypic variation.

Caroline Isaksson, Lund University, Sweden (caroline [dot] isaksson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)
Interests: the role of epigenetics in shaping different phenotypes in response to environmental change, especially urbanization. I’m particularly interested in epigenetic change and stability across the different life-stages and environmental contexts and link this to fundamental physiological traits and ultimately, fitness.

Kees van Oers, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), the Netherlands (k [dot] vanoers [at] nioo [dot] knaw [dot] nl)
Interests: My goal is to find answers to questions related to how individuals respond to changing environments. I do this from an evolutionary point of view, at the crossroads between ecology and genomics. I am especially interested in the role that epigenetics has in behavioural and cognitive adaptation and evolution.