Proc. R. Soc. B has a long and distinguished tradition, because of the influential papers that it publishes, in evolutionary biology, ecology and behaviour. Although the scope of papers submitted to Proc. R. Soc. B continues to widen, we would like to see this coverage extended further, as outlined by Editor-in-Chief William (Bill) Hill in his editorial announcing the restructuring of the editorial team (Hill 2005). The purpose of this editorial is to continue this theme by specifically encouraging more plant biologists to consider Proc. R. Soc. B as a welcome home for their latest research findings. The speed of publication (our average time from receipt to publication is less than four months), wide international readership and high media profile provide authors with outstanding opportunities not offered by specialized botanical journals to increase the impact of significant new research in plant biology.
‘Plant papers’ have always represented a minority of the submissions to journals that have a broad general audience, such as Proc. R. Soc. B. The limited representation reflects the zoo-centric nature of the biological sciences and the gradual attrition of ‘botany’ departments on university campuses worldwide as a result of re-organization within the life sciences. Nevertheless, biologists since Darwin have recognized the great benefits of using plants as experimental systems for addressing fundamental questions in ecology and evolutionary biology, and plant biology is today a vibrant and fast moving discipline despite its ‘minority status’. Indeed, many exciting papers on plants have appeared in Proc. R. Soc. B over the past year including such diverse topics as species co-existence, historical biogeography, molecular evolution on islands, adaptive plasticity and the evolutionary genetics of sexual systems. In addition, Proc. R. Soc. B has established itself as an important forum for several contemporary topics in plant ecology, including the environmental consequences of GM crops, invasion biology and global environmental change.
The editorial board of Proc. R. Soc. B would like to extend this coverage further to reflect recent developments in plant biology, especially those that have been made possible using molecular techniques. We therefore encourage submissions based on plant studies, particularly on the following topics: genomic approaches to the study of adaptation and speciation in plants; phylogenetic and comparative analysis of ecological traits and communities; community genetics; biotic interactions and coevolution; and the functional and developmental analysis of morphological evolution. Our goal over the forthcoming year is to increase the number of papers that we publish on plant ecology, evolution and biodiversity, while at the same time maintaining the high standards that our readership has come to expect. Of course, we welcome submissions in all areas of biology as long as they are of high quality and are of general interest to a broad audience.
- © 2006 The Royal Society
Professor Spencer C. H. Barrett FRS is an Associate Editor of Proc. R. Soc. B. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and has been a faculty member in the Botany Department, University of Toronto since 1977 where he holds a Canada Research Chair in Evolutionary Genetics. His research interests focus primarily on the ecology and evolution of plant reproduction, particularly the evolution of sexual diversity in flowering plants. He is also interested in the genetics and ecology of invasions, conservation biology and plant exploration.