Meet the Editor: Holly Jones

It has already been three months since we launched our new journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence and we are proud to say we have a strong, diverse and growing Editorial Board. We are currently recruiting another Lead Editor to join our Senior Editor team so there is no better time to get to know our current Lead Editor Holly Jones in this ‘Meet the Editor’ conversation.


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

Well it certainly wasn’t my best work, but I’m very proud of it! I was an undergraduate and led a study on artificial seabird nest predation before and after rat eradication on Anacapa Island, Channel Islands, California. Predation went down nearly 100% after rats were eradicated which removed the seabird species as a candidate on the Endangered Species Act.

What’s your favourite species and why?

Ugh, this is such a tough question because I work in two very different systems. My favourite seabird species is probably the common diving petrel – it calls back to you from its burrows and unlike most seabirds I study, which produce a cacophony of obnoxious sounds, its call is calm and inquisitive. My favourite prairie small mammal is the meadow jumping mouse – it has a long tail and huge feet, and looks like a mini kangaroo!

Who inspired you most as a student?

In high school I had taken all the science classes my school had to offer so I got to take Marine Biology at a vocational school (in Iowa!). My professor there, Dr Karen Stiles, inspired me to pursue marine biology. She could identify every sea creature and her enthusiasm was contagious.

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

Ninja-level R skills and Bayesian stats.

Are you a good cook? What’s your signature dish?

Yes! Cooking is my go-to stress reliever. Sweets-wise I’m known for my cream puffs and savoury-wise, because I worked in Italian restaurants even through my PhD, I make some killer pasta; Amatriciana is one of my family’s favourite.

What’s your favourite sports team and why?

I am a die-hard Cubs fan. I grew up in Iowa going to the Triple A I-Cubs games and even though the Chicago Cubs were mostly terrible, my family and I still loved them. In fact, my husband and I wrote our wedding vows separately and each ended up having a line about how we would celebrate when the Cubs won the series. And we did celebrate (like kids) when they won in 2016.

Chicago Cubs
Wrigley Field – home of the Cubs

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

New Zealand. The people have this incredible affinity for nature and are so welcoming. It’s also super small in area – smaller than California – but boasts the most incredible diversity of ecosystem types. The best SCUBA diving I’ve ever done was around the Poor Knights Islands there – a confluence of temperate and tropical species. It also has glaciers, fjords, mountains and incredible biodiversity.

What was the first album you owned?

Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl is the first one I can remember. I also was and remain a huge Billy Joel fan.

We can all do with a bit of magic!

If any fictional character could join your lab, who would it be and why?

Hermione Granger because she could teach us all how to levitate things and keep warm with flames carried around in jam jars!

If you had one superpower, what would it be and why?

I would love to be able to fly! Every few years I have a dream where I can fly and it is my very favourite feeling. Skydiving was an incredible experience for me.

Now to the more slightly more serious questions – what are the greatest differences in the challenges now facing ecosystems compared with when you first started your academic career?

My knee-jerk response is how much climate change is omnipresent, and that’s true, but I choose to focus on the positive instead: we know a lot more about how to repair and restore species and ecosystems now. Restoration ecology and Conservation Biology are infants in discipline age and we are rapidly developing better understanding to help nature heal. I’m excited about contributing to that.

What do you think are the biggest opportunities or potential opportunities for ecology in the next decade?

Well, it’s the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration coming up in 2021 (recently declared by the UN), so I’m hoping the restoration world will really capitalize on that and move the field forward. We still have a long way to go before we fully understand entire ecosystems well enough to restore them quickly and easily, or before we understand which places and where are the best to restore. If we can make some headway there, we will be well poised to help ecosystems and species adapt to the pressures of today and the future.

Holly is an Associate Professor of Conservation Biology/Restoration Ecology at Northern Illinois University. Her research centres around the biodiversity crisis, and how species conservation and ecosystem restoration can best be used to address it. Holly works with practitioners to address research questions that help guide on-the-ground restoration in both prairie and island ecosystems. Follow Holly on Twitter here: @DocHPJones

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