Excerpted from Ecology Author Guidelines
Avoid excessive citations; cite only essential sources. Before submitting the manuscript, check each citation in the text against the Literature Cited to see that they match exactly. Delete citations if they are not actually cited in the article. The list should conform in sequencing and punctuation to that in recent issues of the journal. All journal titles should be spelled out completely. Provide the publisher’s name and location when you cite conference proceedings or other books.
The Literature Cited section of a paper may refer only to permanently archived material. If a reasonably diligent scholar 20 years in the future could not be assured of finding a particular source, it would not be acceptable as literature cited. Because Internet sources typically have a short half-life, they may not be included in Literature Cited sections unless there is reasonable evidence of permanency (e.g., Dryad). As a general rule, any publication that has an ISSN or ISBN is acceptable, but should be referenced by name (the URL may be added, but is not essential).
Do not list abstracts or unpublished material in the Literature Cited. These materials may be listed in the text as personal observations (by an author of the present paper), personal communications (information from others), public communications (information in published abstracts or information publicly distributed over the Internet but not permanently archived), unpublished manuscript, or unpublished data. The author(s) is expected to verify for all "personal communications" that the authority cited agrees to the use of his or her name. For public communications, the reference should include date printed or accessed, and title of the source, and basic access information such as URL.
Unfortunately the Ecology Author Guidelines do not provide any examples of citations. However, the author guidelines for Ecosphere (another publication from the Ecological Society of America) provides examples. Below is a list of sample citations excerpted from Ecosphere Author Guidelines.
Examples of proper citation format
1) Journal article: author, date, title, journal name, volume, pages:
Hargreaves, A. L., L. D. Harder, and S. D. Johnson. 2010. Native pollen thieves reduce the reproductive success of a hermaphroditic plant, Aloe maculata. Ecology 91:1693–1703.
Include a doi only if volume and page range/article numbers are not known.
2) Book: author, date, title, publisher (name, city, state, country); do not include the total number of pages in the book:
Sokal, R., and F. Rohlf. 1995. Biometry: the principles and practice of statistics in biological research. Third edition. W. H. Freeman, New York, New York, USA.
3) Article in book: author, date, title, pages, editor[s], book title, publisher (name, city, state, country):
Witman, J. D., and P. K. Dayton. 2001. Rocky subtidal communities. Pages 339–366 in M. D. Bertness, S. D. Gaines, and M. E. Hay, editors. Marine community ecology. Sinauer, Sunderland, Massachusetts, USA.
4) Article in symposium: author, date, title, pages, editor, book title, series title, number in series, publisher (name, city, state, country):
Tate, C. M., T. F. Cuffney, G. McMahon, E. M. P. Giddings, J. F. Coles, and H. Zappia. 2005. Use of an urban intensity index to assess urban effects on streams in three contrasting environmental settings. Pages 291–315 in L. R. Brown, R. M. Hughes, R. Gray, and M. R. Meador, editors. Effects of urbanization on stream ecosystems. Symposium 47. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
5) Article in proceedings of a conference or symposium: author, date, title, pages, editor, conference title, publisher (name, city, state, country):
Wang, H. V., and R. S. Chapman. 1995. Application of vertical turbulence closure schemes in the Chesapeake Bay circulation model: a comparative study. Pages 283–297 in Malcolm L. Spaulding and Ralph T. Cheng, editors. Proceedings of the 4th International Conference, San Diego, California, October 26–28, 1995. American Society of Civil Engineers, New York, New York, USA.
6) Dissertation or thesis: author, date, title, Dissertation [for Ph.D.] or Thesis [for M.S., M.A.], university (name, city, state, country):
Nelson, W. A. 2004. Competition in structured zooplankton populations: coupling population genetics and dynamics using theoretical and experimental approaches. Dissertation. University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
7) Government or institutional monograph [separate publication]: author, date, title, type and number of publication, publisher (agency or institution name, city, state, country):
Graham, R. T., S. McCaffrey, and T. B. Jain. 2004. Science basis for changing forest structure to modify wildfire behavior and severity. RMRS GTR-120. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.
8) Computer program: author, date, title, publisher (name, city, state, country):
R Development Core Team. 2007. R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.
9) Database: author, date, title, URL (note angle brackets and lack of punctuation):
State of New South Wales, Department of Primary Industries. 2005. Fishing and aquaculture database: Caulerpa taxifolia. http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/pests-diseases/marine-pests/species/caulerpa-taxifolia
10) Documents that are published online: author, date, title, URL (note lack of ending punctuation).
Spratt, J. 2002. A history of natural and anthropogenic fire disturbance in central Florida. Katharine Ordway Preserve, Melrose, Florida, USA. http://www.ordway.ufl.edu/firehist.htm
11) Work formally accepted, awaiting publication. Include in press at the end of citation if the year of publication is known or in place of the year of publication if it is unknown:
Tylianakis, J. M., E. Laliberte, A. Nielsen, and J. Bascompte. In press. Conservation of species interaction networks. Biological Conservation. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon. 2009.12.004
Turner, D. C. In press. The vampire bat: a field study in behavior and ecology. Revised edition. Tropical Science Center, San Jose, Costa Rica.
Travis, J. 1994. The vampire bat. In J. Smith, editor. Bats. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, USA, in press.
Citations to material authored by an institution using an abbreviation:
• Cite in text by the abbreviation, e.g., “(USDA ARS 2015)”; the citation in the list of literature cited should begin as “USDA ARS [U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service]. 2015.”
• Alphabetize citations by the names of first authors on a letter-by-letter basis; a particle, definite article, or preposition that is part of the name should precede the family name (e.g., van der Hoof).
• Alphabetize citations with multiple authors by the last names of second and succeeding authors.
• Two or more entries by the same author(s) should be ordered chronologically:
Smith, G. C. 1980.
Smith, G. C., S. T. Baker, and A. B. Jones. 1972.
Smith, G. C., S. T. Baker, and A. B. Jones. 1978.
Smith, G. C., and A. B. Jones. 1969.
• Alphabetize institution abbreviations letter by letter: USDA should precede USEPA.
You can also find examples of citations by looking at the literature cited lists of articles in Ecology. Gleeson Library provides full text access to Ecology.
Here are two guides that provide additional examples and guidance: