2023 was a massive year for Journal of Experimental Biology (JEB) as we marked a century of publishing outstanding research in comparative physiology and biomechanics (Franklin, 2023). We celebrated and reflected upon the journal's rich history (Hankins and Rutledge, 2023; Knight, 2023a,b) and looked to the future of our discipline by considering the research opportunities that await us (Gilmour et al., 2023). It is a story of JEB's evolution that continues today.

Our series of 39 specially commissioned Centenary Articles, published throughout the year, presented fresh viewpoints on existing problems across the subfields of experimental biology, posed questions that remained unanswered, and challenged current paradigms (https://journals.biologists.com/jeb/collection/9015/Centenary-Articles) while our special issue (https://journals.biologists.com/jeb/issue/226/Suppl_1) addressed broad biological questions through the lens of comparative biomechanics, highlighting the pivotal role of JEB in the historical, current and future landscape of this key research field and exploring the influence of biomechanics on fields including ecology, evolution and engineering (Patek et al., 2023).

In a more light-hearted series, our JEB@100 Conversation interviews (https://journals.biologists.com/jeb/pages/conversation#JEB@100) asked some of the current crop of editors to reflect on their associations with the journal and what JEB means to them and to consider, for example, questions such as what advice they would give their younger self or what piece of equipment they would bring back from the future if they could time travel.

We also supported our early-career researcher (ECR) community by launching two new grant schemes for junior faculty staff (https://www.biologists.com/grants/#jeb) and introducing the ECR Spotlight interview series to showcase and promote the significant contributions of junior researchers to the research that we publish. There are some remarkable backstories to how these talented ECRs became interested in comparative physiology and biomechanics, and each interview provides reassurance for the future of our field (https://journals.biologists.com/jeb/pages/ECR-spotlight). Owing to their popularity and success in elevating the profiles of our ECRs, we have decided to continue publishing these ‘spotlights’ in 2024.

Beyond the centenary-related activities, 2023 saw the restart of the annual JEB symposia – temporarily suspended for 3 years because of the covid pandemic – and some changes to the editorial team. After serving an extraordinary 19 years as Monitoring Editor, Ken Lukowiak stepped down from this role but continues to serve the journal as part of the Editorial Advisory Board. We welcomed Matt McHenry, who brings additional expertise in biomechanics, locomotion and sensory biology to our team of editors (Knight, 2023c). We also thanked and said farewell to several of our Editorial Advisory Board and welcomed 13 new members (Box 1), whose role is to provide invaluable additional expertise and advice to editors on submitted papers. It is always such a pleasure to be working alongside a dedicated and passionate group of biologists who care deeply about the journal and our community, and who revel in 100 years of discoveries in experimental biology.

Box 1. New members who joined the JEB Editorial Advisory Board during 2023

Taylor J. M. Dick (The University of Queensland, Australia)

Melody S. Clark (British Antarctic Survey, UK)

Valentina Di Santo (Stockholm University, Sweden)

Kendra J. Greenlee (North Dakota State University, USA)

Tyson L. Hedrick (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA)

Vladimír Koštál (Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic)

Anand Krishnan (Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, India)

Kwang Pum Lee (Seoul National University, South Korea)

Ken Lukowiak (University of Calgary, Canada)

Jake Socha (Virginia Tech, USA)

James F. Staples (University of Western Ontario, Canada)

Sam Van Wassenbergh (University of Antwerp, Belgium)

Jonathan M. Wilson (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada)

See https://journals.biologists.com/jeb/pages/edboard for a full list of JEB Editors, Editorial Advisory Board and staff.

Refreshed aims and scope

With the Centenary Articles in mind, and while putting together their Commentary article on future challenges and opportunities for the field (Gilmour et al., 2023), the editors reviewed the aims and scope of the journal and realised changes need to be made to reflect the way that the field has changed direction and evolved over the past decade. As shown in Kathryn Knight's article plotting the timeline of the journal (Knight, 2023b), an evolving scope has been a natural progression throughout JEB's history, and this is a continuation of that journey. You can find the new aims and scope at https://journals.biologists.com/jeb/pages/aims. As you will see, while the core criterion remains the same – papers published in JEB should represent a significant advancement of scientific knowledge – we have expanded the journal's scope in recognition of how the field has moved and is likely to move in the future. For instance, we know that there is increasing interest in conducting mechanistic studies that are field based, especially with recent biologging advances, and so are now publishing more studies exploring physiological processes in free-ranging animals or experimental studies using mesocosms. We also recognise that JEB should be a home for studies that utilise computational simulations and robotics that advance understanding of animal function. Fundamentally, perhaps one of the most substantial changes is that we no longer require a research paper to test a hypothesis; instead, it is sufficient for it to address a significant question of relevance to JEB's areas of interest. We feel that this will allow for more discovery-based studies to be considered for publication in JEB. We are excited by these changes and look forward to submissions that reflect these new areas and approaches in experimental biology.

A new article type – Theory & Modelling

In addition to our updated aims and scope, 2024 will see the publication of the first articles in our new Theory & Modelling category of research papers (https://journals.biologists.com/jeb/pages/article-types#theory). The integration of theory, models and experiments has always been important for accelerating our conceptual understanding of biological processes but it is not always feasible or desirable to include new experimental data within the same paper. Thus, our new article type provides the opportunity to publish theoretical and modelling contributions that are: (1) informed by experimental biology and (2) develop novel conceptual frameworks that form the basis for new testable hypotheses. We anticipate that the contributions made through this new category will provide a framework to generate multiple alternative hypotheses that can then be addressed with experiments and the collection of empirical data. In essence, the Theory & Modelling article category is a home for papers that focus on developing a theory or analysing a specific model to address a new biological question, but without substantial new biological data.

Special Issues

We will be publishing two themed issues of JEB in 2024. The first, ‘Developmental Plasticity: From Mechanisms to Evolutionary Processes’, is a supplementary issue in addition to the regular 24 issues of the journal. This issue is based on presentations from the 2023 JEB Symposium on the same topic and brings together articles that explore how conditions encountered early in development can shape an animal's phenotype and provides insights of the underlying mechanisms. The second Special Issue, to be published later in the year, is ‘The Integrative Biology of the Heart’. Coordinated by Guest Editors William Joyce and Holly Shiels, this is shaping up to be an exciting issue with articles exploring the plasticity and flexibility of the heart in response to intrinsic and environmental drivers, including developmental, ecological and evolutionary perspectives. We are currently running a Call for Papers for this issue (https://journals.biologists.com/jeb/pages/heart), with a submission deadline of 31 January 2024.

Perspectives

As part of the Centenary Article series, we re-introduced Perspective articles to encourage authors to submit papers offering a contemporary viewpoint on topics of wider interest to our community that are not discipline-specific. Topics published during 2023 included the evolving publication ecosystem (Somero, 2023), science communication (Borowiec, 2023), and the importance and benefits of promoting diversity and inclusion in our community (Hird et al., 2023; Tomsic and Silva, 2023). These articles are clearly of interest to the community, some of them featuring in our most-read articles of the year (Box 2), so we aim to continue them beyond the centenary; if you have suggestions for a topic that should be covered or are interested in writing an article yourself, please contact our commissioning editors (JEBreviews@biologists.com).

Box 2. Some of the articles that readers have enjoyed during 2023, compiled using a variety of measures (the order of articles within each section is alphabetical and does not reflect rank)

Most-read research papers

Caro, T., Fogg, E., Stephens-Collins, T., Santon, M. and How, M. J. (2023). Why don't horseflies land on zebras? J. Exp. Biol.226, jeb244778. doi:10.1242/jeb.244778

Moubarak, E. M., Fernandes, A. S. D., Stewart, A. J. A. and Niven, J. E. (2023). Artificial light impairs local attraction to females in male glow-worms. J. Exp. Biol.226, jeb245760. doi:10.1242/jeb.245760

Römer, D., Exl, R. and Roces, F. (2023). Two feedback mechanisms involved in the control of leaf fragment size in leaf-cutting ants. J. Exp. Biol.226, jeb244246. doi:10.1242/jeb.244246

Most-cited research papers

Burnett, N. P. and Combes, S. A. (2023). Close encounters of three kinds: impacts of leg, wing and body collisions on flight performance in carpenter bees. J. Exp. Biol.226, jeb245334. doi:10.1242/jeb.245334

Childers, R. A. R., Bernard, G. D., Huang, H., Tsai, C.-C., Stoddard, M. C., Hogan, B. G., Greenwood, J. S. F., Soucy, E. R., Cornwall, M., Lim, M. L. M., Liénard, M. A., Yu, N. and Pierce, N. E. (2023). A hypothesis for robust polarization vision: an example from the Australian imperial blue butterfly, Jalmenus evagoras. J. Exp. Biol.226, jeb244515. doi:10.1242/jeb.244515

Jang, H, Goodman, D. P., Ausborn, J. and von Reyn, C. R. (2023). Azimuthal invariance to looming stimuli in the Drosophila giant fiber escape circuit. J. Exp. Biol.226, jeb244790. doi:10.1242/jeb.244790

Most talked-about research papers on social media

Hüttner, T., von Fersen, Lorenzo., Miersch, L. and Dehnhardt, G. (2023). Passive electroreception in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): implication for micro- and large-scale orientation. J. Exp. Biol.226, jeb245845. doi:10.1242/jeb.245845

Simon, R., Matt, F., Santillán, V., Tschapka, M., Tuttle, M. and Halfwerk W. (2023). An ultrasound-absorbing inflorescence zone enhances echo-acoustic contrast of bat-pollinated cactus flowers. J. Exp. Biol.226, jeb245263. doi:10.1242/jeb.245263

Most-reported research papers in the media

Harrison, J. S. and Patek, S. N. (2023). Developing elastic mechanisms: ultrafast motion and cavitation emerge at the millimeter scale in juvenile snapping shrimp. J. Exp. Biol.226, jeb244645. doi:10.1242/jeb.244645

Moubarak, E. M., Fernandes, A. S. D., Stewart, A. J. A. and Niven, J. E. (2023). Artificial light impairs local attraction to females in male glow-worms. J. Exp. Biol.226, jeb245760. doi:10.1242/jeb.245760

Most-read Centenary Articles

Borowiec, B. G. (2023). Science communication in experimental biology: experiences and recommendations. J. Exp. Biol.226, jeb245780. doi:10.1242/jeb.245780

Hird, C., David-Chavez, D. M., Spang Gion, S. and van Uitregt, V. (2023). Moving beyond ontological (worldview) supremacy: Indigenous insights and a recovery guide for settler-colonial scientists. J. Exp. Biol.226, jeb245302. doi:10.1242/jeb.245302

MacLeod, K. J., English, S., Ruuskanen, S. K. and Taborsky, B. (2023). Stress in the social context: a behavioural and eco-evolutionary perspective. J. Exp. Biol.226, jeb245829. doi:10.1242/jeb.245829

Conversation: Extraordinary Creatures

Our Conversation interview series will switch focus this year to showcase some of the astounding animals that fascinate JEB authors. In our new ‘Extraordinary Creatures’ interviews, we will be talking to researchers working closely with featured animals to learn more about what makes these incredible organisms so remarkable, and why the Krogh Principle is alive and well in articles published in JEB.

Junior faculty grants

As mentioned above, one of the ways we marked the centenary was to provide two new funding opportunities to support junior faculty staff in setting up their first laboratory and research group (https://www.biologists.com/grants/#jeb): Research Partnership Kickstart Travel Grants (to travel to an institution to develop, write and submit a major grant application with a new research collaborator) and ECR Visiting Fellowships (to put forward a proposal to attract potential research students to their laboratory to undertake a specific research project together). Given that these schemes only launched in May 2023, we were pleased to receive over 20 applications for the grants across the two 2023 funding rounds, with applicants based in 13 countries. Combined with our existing Travelling Fellowships scheme (https://www.biologists.com/travelling-fellowships/), these new grants provide outstanding opportunities for ECRs to further their scientific careers. Please spread the word so that we can continue to support future researchers in our field at this demanding and challenging stage of their careers.

The Forest of Biologists

In 2023, a new biodiversity initiative was launched by our publisher, The Company of Biologists; for each peer-reviewed article published in JEB, a tree is planted, and for each peer review completed, a piece of ancient woodland is being protected (find out more about the forest in our movie at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaZ-aalPiVU). These are real living and growing trees but, to capture this, a virtual forest has also been created, so you can search for your tree and those planted/protected by other JEB authors and reviewers (http://forest.biologists.com). We will be continuing this initiative throughout 2024, so have fun exploring our forest, knowing that by publishing and reviewing for JEB you are supporting our commitment to biodiversity and sustainability.

Finally, as we look forward to the current year, we extend our gratitude not only to those who have supported JEB as authors, readers, reviewers (see supplementary information), editors, Advisory Board members and editorial staff in 2023 but also to all those who have played a role in the journal's development throughout the years. Their contributions have significantly influenced JEB's trajectory, shaping it into the journal it has become today. With the new cohort of experimental biologists coming through and publishing in JEB, the next 100 years of experimental biology research looks bright. So, here's to a century of excellence, and to the exciting journey that lies ahead!

Borowiec
,
B. G.
(
2023
).
Science communication in experimental biology: experiences and recommendations
.
J. Exp. Biol.
226
,
jeb245780
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Franklin
,
C. E.
(
2023
).
JEB centenary 1923−2023: celebrating 100 years of discovery
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J. Exp. Biol.
226
,
jeb245455
.
Gilmour
,
K. M.
,
Daley
,
M. A.
,
Egginton
,
S.
,
Kelber
,
A.
,
McHenry
,
M. J.
,
Patek
,
S. N.
,
Sane
,
S. P.
,
Schulte
,
P. M.
,
Terblanche
,
J. S.
,
Wright
,
P. A.
and
Franklin
,
C. E.
(
2023
).
Through the looking glass: attempting to predict future opportunities and challenges in experimental biology
.
J. Exp. Biol.
226
,
jeb246921
.
Hankins
,
L. E.
and
Rutledge
,
C. E.
(
2023
).
Class of 1923: looking back at the authors of JEB's first issue
.
J. Exp. Biol.
226
,
jeb245424
.
Hird
,
C.
,
David-Chavez
,
D. M.
,
Spang Gion
,
S.
and
van Uitregt
,
V.
(
2023
).
Moving beyond ontological (worldview) supremacy: Indigenous insights and a recovery guide for settler-colonial scientists
.
J. Exp. Biol.
226
,
jeb245302
.
Knight
,
K.
(
2023a
).
A snapshot of 100 years of discovery
.
J. Exp. Biol.
226
,
jeb246869
.
Knight
,
K.
(
2023b
).
Journey through the history of Journal of Experimental Biology: a timeline
.
J. Exp. Biol.
226
,
jeb246868
.
Knight
,
K.
(
2023c
).
Welcome Matt and farewell Ken
.
J. Exp. Biol.
226
,
jeb245626
.
Patek
,
S. N.
,
Daley
,
M. A.
and
Sane
,
S. P.
(
2023
).
A century of comparative biomechanics: emerging and historical perspectives on an interdisciplinary field
.
J. Exp. Biol.
226
,
jeb245876
.
Somero
,
G. N.
(
2023
).
Turning a page: remaining a top competitor in an evolving publication ecosystem
.
J. Exp. Biol.
226
,
jeb245153
.
Tomsic
,
D.
and
Silva
,
A. C.
(
2023
).
Neuroethology in South America: past, present and future
.
J. Exp. Biol.
226
,
jeb246035
.

Supplementary information