Plenary Session

PL 1: Opening Plenary Session

Sunday, August 7, 5–6:30pm
Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D
A Panel Discussion of Earth Stewardship

Humanity faces a growing need for food, freshwater, energy, and many other resources drawn from Earth’s life support systems.  Ensuring that these life support systems remain resilient under increasing human demands, requires stewardship on multiple scales and in multiple communities.  Moderated by ESA Vice President for Public Affairs Laura Huenneke, the ESA Opening Plenary panel discussion will explore dimensions beyond ecology, including religious and moral, psychological, and management aspects of Earth stewardship.


Matthew Anderson-Stembridge
Matthew Anderson-StembridgeExecutive Director, National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE)
The NRPE addresses the moral dimensions of environmental questions and is comprised of four major religious organizations serving tens of millions of Americans.  Anderson-Stembridge has held posts with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the National Council of Churches and Faith in the City.  He holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College and is completing graduate work in advocacy and political leadership at the University of Minnesota.

Susan Clayton
Susan ClaytonProfessor, Social Psychology, College of Wooster
Clayton is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Population and Environmental Psychology, and a member of the Society of Conservation Biology's Social Science Working Group and the Society for Human Ecology. She serves as editor of the Human Ecology Review and the pending Oxford Handbook of Environmental and Conservation Psychology.  Recent publications include Conservation psychology: Understanding and promoting human care for nature.

Richard Morgan
Richard MorganGreen Building & Sustainability Manager
Morgan manages Austin Energy’s residential and commercial green building programs, the adoption and implementation of the City of Austin Energy Code, and Austin Energy’s Electric Vehicles and Emerging Technologies group. Prior to joining Austin Energy, Morgan managed affordable housing initiatives in Austin and spent more than 20 years in the building industry as a licensed general contractor.  He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Green Building Initiative.

Laura Huenneke
Laura HuennekeVice President for Public Affairs, Ecological Society of America
Huenneke is Vice President for Research at Northern Arizona University (NAU).  Previous positions include Dean of the NAU College of Arts and Sciences, Dean of Engineering & Natural Sciences, and 16 years on the faculty of New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. In addition to her research interests, Huenneke is committed to science communication. She has served on the boards of the Northern Arizona Sustainable Economic Development Initiative and the Arboretum at Flagstaff, and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Arizona Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

PL 2: Scientific Plenary & ESA Awards Session  

 Monday, August 8, 8-10 am
Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D
Keynote: Stephen W. Pacala, ESA MacArthur Lecturer, Director, Princeton Environmental Institute
Title: How to build a young field in a crisis: Lessons from studies that added greatly to the basic intellectual foundation of ecology while solving an important applied problem

Stephen W. PacalaI am interested in the processes that govern ecological communities, the interplay between community and ecosystem-level processes, and the interactions between the global biosphere and climate. My approach is to develop, calibrate and test mathematical models that explain ecological structure and function.

Currently I direct the Princeton Environmental Institute and co-direct Princeton's Carbon Mitigation Initiative.  My research focuses on all aspects of the global carbon cycle. The group is composed of ecologists, physical and biological oceanographers, and atmospheric scientists, and investigates issues ranging from the effects of global vegetation on climate, to the large-scale measurement of natural and anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

I am now working most intensively on a new model of the terrestrial biosphere. Over the past several years, we have developed methods to scale-up individual based models of communities and ecosystems. We use these methods to scale up so called gap models of vegetation. The method provides partial differential equations that govern the behavior of a large scale simulation model of a landscape, without the need to run the individual-based model. Our global model makes predictions about the large-scale distribution of biomes and associated biogeochemical fluxes, as well as specific local predictions including hourly physiological carbon gain and water loss, community composition and dynamics throughout succession, the outcome of spatial competition among plant species, and the fluxes of nitrogen, water and carbon.

Because the model is based on measurable properties of individuals and local-scale processes, the work provide sample opportunities for field studies to calibrate and test it. We are currently working on field projects in Amazonia and the deciduous-evergreen ecotone in the northern Midwest. We are also continuing the theoretical studies of ecological scaling rules, and are coupling the global ecosystem model to regional and global models of atmosphere and oceans.

During the next several years, my research will focus on the following questions. How and to what extent the terrestrial biosphere affects climate? Does the feedback between climate and vegetation lead to multiple stable states of climate? If so, could human land use cause a flip to an alternative state (we are most concerned currently by the possibility of a dry tropics caused by deforestation)? How does biodiversity affect global ecosystem function?

PL 3: Recent Advances Lecture

Wednesday, August 10, 12:15 - 1:15pm
Austin Convention Center, Ballroom E
Presider:  Tom Jurik, ESA Program Chair

Guest Lecturer:   Camille Parmesan of the University of Texas
Camille ParmesanCamille Parmesan's early research focused on multiple aspects of population biology, including the ecology, evolution and behaviors of insect/plant interactions. For the past several years, the focus of her work has been on current impacts of climate change in the 20th century on wildlife. Her work on butterfly range shifts has been highlighted in many scientific and popular press reports, such as in Science, Science News, New York Times, London Times, National Public Radio, and the recent BBC film series "State of the Planet" with David Attenborough.
The intensification of global warming as an international issue led her into the interface of policy and science. Parmesan has given seminars in DC for the White House, government agencies, and NGOs (e.g., IUCN and WWF). As a lead author, she was involved in multiple aspects of the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, United Nations).

PL 4:  Closing Annual Meeting Plenary
Friday, August 12, 11:30 - 1:15pm
Austin Convention Center, Room 15
Presider:  Tom Jurik, ESA Program Chair
Panel Speakers: Steward Pickett, Alan Knapp, Jenny Talbot, and Joe Fader
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Banner photo by Flickr user greg westfall.