August 2, 2008

ESA Governing Board 
August 2-3, 2008 
Milwaukee, WI

 

Members Present: 
Norm Christensen (President), Alan Covich (Past-President), Sunny Power (President-Elect), Mary Power (incoming President-Elect), Meg Lowman (Vice President for Education and Human Resources), Bill Parton (VP for Finance), David Inouye (Secretary), Rich Pouyat (VP for Public Affairs), Laura Huenneke (incoming VP for Public Affairs), Rob Jackson (incoming VP for Science), Ann Kinzig (Member at Large), Jayne Belnap (Member at Large), Emily Stanley (incoming Member at Large), Josh Schimel (Incoming Member at Large), Juan Armesto (Member at Large; arrived Saturday afternoon)

Staff Present:
Katherine McCarter (Executive Director), Cliff Duke (Director of Science), Elizabeth Biggs (Director of Finance), Sue Silver (Editor), Teresa Mourad (Director of Education), Nadine Lymn (Director of Public Affairs), Ramona Crawford (Director of Development), David Baldwin (Managing Editor), David Gooding (Publications)

I.  Roll Call, 9:01 AM

  1. The GB unanimously adopted the proposed agenda.
  2. Minutes from the May, 2008 Governing Board meeting were ratified.

II.  Reports

    1. Report of the President (Christensen)

President Christensen thanked the ESA staff for all the help they have provided him during the past year, and expressed pleasure in having gotten to know all of them. There has been no large defining issue for the year, but significant progress was made on a variety of issues. Frontiers is on a more solid ground financially, the Millennium Conference series is underway, data archiving has been addressed, the future of the Society’s publications is being planned, policy issues have been addressed, the education program is active, and the financial footing is secure. He looks forward to turning the gavel over to Sunny Power on Friday, and to assuming the duties of Past-President.

    1. Report of the Executive Director (McCarter) and staff

See the reports from staff in the Governing Board Meeting Materials for additional detail, which are available in the Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America.

JSTOR has asked us to experiment with some different pay-per-view options, to see whether a new pricing option over the next six months will encourage more people to pay for access to ESA journal articles.  We will also be experimenting with joint access to British Ecological Society and Ecological Society of America publications for those who subscribe to either one of the sets of publications.

Nadine Lymn (Director of Public Affairs).  Christine Buckley is the new ESA Communications Officer. About 20 publications have sent writers to the meeting.  Nadine will talk this week to some of the local chapters about establishing their own local rapid response teams. Initial efforts this year to get graduate student members more involved in Public Affairs activities were very successful, and will be continued.

David Baldwin (Managing Editor).  Registration packets at the annual meeting include news about changes in the journals. Reports and Communications are now all open access, as is one article in each issue..  This fall all journals will be moved to a new publishing platform, which will lead to new enhanced features in the online versions.  Impact factor of journals have been rising, in particular Ecological Monographs. Submissions are up about 10% this year, and are continuing to be very international in origin (20 countries this year for country of corresponding author).  Four Special Issues were in the works this year, but this will decline to about one a year. The Bulletin has taken on the publication of annual meeting abstracts as a supplement. Income from JSTOR has been increasing as Internet users use this as a means to access ESA publications.

Ramona Crawford (Director of Development).  Development priorities have been reaffirmed over the past few months (SEEDS, Frontiers, unrestricted funding, special projects as needed).  Ramona, Katherine, and Bill Parton visited three foundations in the San Francisco Bay area (Moore Foundation’s Environmental Conservation and Science initiatives; Energy Foundation; Packard Foundation).  Packard is considering some short-term funding for SEEDS, in response to input from a SEEDS alumna who is working there.  A trip to New York City is planned for the fall to talk with a few more foundations, and a meeting is set for later this month with DuPont (in Delaware). ESA Board members will be contacted soon to ask about contacts they may have with foundations or other potential funders.

Sue Silver (Frontiers Editor).  Submissions to Frontiers have continued to grow.  The E-View early publication feature is working well now.  There are also a lot more letters being submitted, with a 3-month backlog at present, so the Write-Back section will also be put up on E-View, with the best submissions also being put into the print issue. It would be nice to have a blog-style comment section, and although Allen Press can’t do that, there will probably be a work-around solution to make this possible. TNC has offered some funding, and EPA and NSF seem likely to provide some funding, for a special issue on ecosystem services. Sue will be going back to China again to lead another workshop on how to get published in high-impact English-language journals.    

Cliff Duke (Director of Science).  The Millennium conference planning is proceeding for next fall’s meeting at the University of GA.  EPA is likely to contribute funding, and some NSF offices probably will too.  There will be a meeting in December in the DC area for stakeholders in the plan for the new (virtual) National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (for which the Science office is conducting planning).

Teresa Mourad (Director of Education). SEEDS has received recognition twice in the past year, from NSF and from AIBS. The program received a grant from NSF to identify SEEDS students as potential candidates for REU supplement awards to NSF grantees.  Packard Foundation is interested in helping to fund an organizational effectiveness program, to help provide an ecologically informed work force for the future.  In response to staff inquiries, there has been positive interest from contacts in Chile, China, and Mexico about working with SEEDS. EcoEd Digital Library has been low-key, but a call for submissions did go out this year.  There is a day of events here at the annual meeting for local K-12 teachers (especially high school).  

Liz Biggs (Director of Finance).  The financial office doesn’t like excitement, and there isn’t much this year; 30 June was the end of the fiscal year, and we seem to have done well. Projection is for about 3,200 attendees at the annual meeting. 

    1. Financial Updates (Parton/McCarter)

Fourth quarter (end of year) financials were distributed and discussed.  The financial picture is good, in part because of the unexpectedly large attendance at the San Jose meeting. 

We lost 5% of our investment value last month, but were only 4% down for the past year.   

III. Discussion/Action Items

    1. Fiscal Year 2008-2009 ESA Budget
      1. A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board accepts the proposed budget for 2008-2009.
      2. LongRange Planning Grants

As in the past, proposals for planning grants will be reviewed by the Members-at-Large. The uneven quality of proposals and the wide range of kinds of proposals were a problem for the review committee last year. The current and incoming Members-at-Large agreed to draft a set of criteria for evaluating proposals, after they have looked at the old guidelines that Katherine will provide, which had additional information about inappropriate uses of funds.  

      1. Committee Funds

$5,600 is available for each of four committees to meet, and five have expressed interest in having meetings this year.  Some committees may not need all of the allocated funding, and we could potentially use Board Strategic Initiative Funds to cover any expenses beyond this budget.  Jayne Belnap made a case for a line item in the budget for an annual meeting (not at the ESA annual meeting) of the publications committee. 

A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Committee Funds budget will be increased to cover funding for five committee meetings each year.

      1. Board Strategic Initiative Funds

$4,400 is available (having just committed some of this to the Committee Funds budget).  The discussion evolved into consideration of the future of three kinds of meetings – committees, larger-scale (e.g., perhaps regional) meetings, and the annual meeting. How will these meetings be affected by the increasing cost of transportation and increasing concern about environmental impact of travel?  How could an electronic alternative for meetings be used to increase international participation? 

      1. Discussion of Council Presentation

This year there will be a 2% increase in dues for all members (including student and international members, for which the increase occurs every other year).  The Educator Day activities should be emphasized.

      1. Frontiers Funding

Financial goals for the next four years for Frontiers were discussed; the model presented assumes continuing growth in revenue and contributions both from ESA and from external sources, and with a shrinking shortfall between income and expenses.

    1. Cost of Living Increase (Kinzig)

Present policy is that an annual pool of funding (5% of payroll) is available for merit increase and cost of living, with recommendations for allocation made from senior staff for their assistants and decisions made by Katherine for senior staff.  There are biennial evaluations for each staff member.  

A motion is proposed and subsequently tabled: The Executive Director is asked to recommend each year to the Governing Board a fixed-amount cost of living increase for all employees, which will be proportional to percentage of full-time employment and independent of the pool for merit increases.

    1. South American Chapter

A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Governing Board recommends establishment of a new South American Chapter.  This proposal will be presented to the Council tomorrow, in preparation for a vote in 90 days.

    1. Science Program Review (Jackson/Duke)

VP Jackson and Director of Science Duke presented a short history of the Science Office Program, its membership, and its activities since the previous full program review in 2004.  Current projects can be categorized as:

      1. Advancing Visions initiatives.  Examples include:
          • Data sharing workshops

A Society summit was held in September 2004, and workshops on data registries (July 2006), data centers (December 2006), obstacles to data sharing (May 2007), and incentives for data sharing (fall 2008). Products from these efforts include a special session at this annual meeting, input into a National Academy of Sciences Board of Life Sciences briefing in April 2008, the ecology journals data sharing initiative (Whitlock 2007), editorials in ESA publications, and a manuscript in review in PLoS.

          • A biofuels conference and workshop in DC in March 2008, with articles about this work in progress for a feature in Ecological Applications, Issues in Ecology, and the Science Policy Forum. 
          • Issues in Ecology – there have been 12 issues to date, one on carbon sequestration is in progress, and five are in preparation on biofuels (with funding from the Energy Foundation).  The Advisory Board is considering additional ideas. 
          • The Millennium Conference: Water - Ecosystem Services, Drought, and Environmental Justice, to be held in Athens in fall 2009. 
      1. Maintaining responsiveness to the ecological science community (a service role for the Society). Examples include:
        1. A workshop in June 2007 on Assessment of Forest Decline in the SE United States. Products include a nontechnical summary, a workshop report on the ESA Web site, and posters at three conferences.
        2. An ESA panel on vegetation classification that already has a variety of products.
        3. Partnership with The Wildlife Society, and the Meridian Institute (a facilitation organization) to help with development of the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center. 
      2. Sustainability Science agenda – an initiative begun by Gus Shaver during his tenure as VP for Science.  Activities have included a Special Session at the 2005 ESA annual meeting, a workshop at Brown University in March 2006, a symposium at the 2007 annual meeting, and a 2008 AAAS symposium.

Other activities (briefly) have included participation (this year by Aleta Wiley) in National Invasive Weeds Awareness Week, the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (Devon Rothschild), the Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable (Cliff Duke), and Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (Corrie Mauldin). 

Future directions include:

      1. General
        1.  Focus on ESA-initiated, longer-term projects
        2.  Look for opportunities to develop additional activities in climate change and sustainability
        3.  Continue to promote development of ecological science, e.g., data sharing, NEON
        4.  help lead international outreach
      2. Potential projects
        1.  Promoting integration of basic ecological research into policy and management (now being developed by J. Herrick and R. Pouyat for the Science Committee)
        2.  Workshop on co-effects of geoengineering (with Rob Jackson)
        3.  Proposed program review of USGS Biological Resources Discipline (with Mary Barber, RTI)
        4.  Workshop on how to reward participation (by academics) in large-scale research (with CEDD, NEON).
      3.  Collaborations
        1.  Millennium Conference will involve substantial collaboration among ESA offices
        2.  Science and Education offices are both working on proposal for SEEDS’ Mexico research and mentoring program
        3.  Biofuels project has involved Science, PAO, and Education staff
        4.  PAO prepares an annual policy priorities document that could help stimulate development of related Science projects.
      4. Potential International Outreach
        1.  SEEDS program’s Mexico project collaboration with Education
        2.  Follow-on to the biofuels conference
        3.  SCOPE or Diversitas workshop on sustainability science
        4.  Projects with the Federation of the Americas
      5. “Rebranding” project categories
      6. Consider renaming current project categories to improve understanding by new (or non-) ESA members and potential funders. For example, “Advancing Visions” is not clear to those unfamiliar with the project.  Possible alternative names include:

 

        • Advancing Ecological Science
        • Building Ecology

“Maintaining Responsiveness” must address a range of stakeholders, not just the ecological science community. 
Possible alternatives include:

        • Applying Ecological Science
        • Ecology for Community

“Sustainability Science Agenda” could be usefully broadened to encompass a greater range of activities, e.g., climate change.  
Possible alternatives include:

        • Ecology for Sustainability
        • Sustainable Solutions

Laura Huenneke brought up the point that huge amounts of money will be spent soon on replacing aging infrastructure across the country, but there has been no discussion among engineers about minimizing ecological impacts or trying to adopt a sustainability perspective.

Ecological implications of nanotechnology is another issue in which NSF and EPA are developing a great interest and in which ESA could get involved.
Ecological repercussions of energy development in the western US (e.g., 20 million acres of solar panels) are another opportunity for ESA involvement in the future.

ESA could consider collaborating with Sigma Xi to provide ecologists for their speaker series.

    1. Principles for Involvement in Local and Regional Initiatives (Jackson)

At the May meeting VP Jackson and the Science Committee were asked to draft a set of principles to guide ESA’s future involvement in regional- and local-scale endeavors.  The principles suggested are: that there should be consistency with the ESA Constitution, Bylaws, and Long Range Plan; maintenance of independence of analysis and judgment; transparency of products; and the freedom to decline projects that are not consistent with the principles. The Governing Board Meeting Materials have additional details about each of these points. The Board recognized that these principles could apply more generally and asked the Science Committee to reword the statement so it would apply to ESA initiatives at all levels and share the revision with the Education and Public Affairs committees.  The revised version will be considered in November.

    1. Millennium Conference Series (Christensen)

Although the initial proposal was to make this an annual conference, the expense and work involved are such that it would work better as a biennial event. 
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Millennium Conference will be a biennial event.
In addition, the Board asked that a proposal for the process of conducting the Millennium Conference in the long term be brought to the November meeting.

    1. Yearly Public Policy Priorities (Pouyat/Lymn)

Some of the proposed priorities are continuing topics, but one new one is water quality and quantity.  The PAO would like to work more closely with the Rapid Response Teams to generate statements on these topics as they come up in the news and as policy issues. A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Governing Board approves the proposed list of Public Policy Priorities for the coming year.

    1. Carbon/Environmental Impacts (Christensen)

The Board decided last year to use $5 per registrant at the annual meeting as a donation to be split between a local organization/project (recommended by the Local Host Committee) and a carbon offset activity.  This year we anticipate about $16,000 will be available, to be allocated as $10,000 in recognition of environmental impact on the local community and the balance to carbon offsets.  President Christensen will confer with the chair of the local host committee (Gretchen Meyer) about how the local organizations were chosen and report to the Board during the Friday August 8, 2008 meeting.

    1. Broader Environmental Impacts of Annual Meetings (Kinzig/Armesto)

In recognition of the broader environmental impacts of the Society’s annual meetings, a proposal was made that we include in the cost of registration an amount to be used to offset these impacts.  The Board agreed to continue the current practice of donating an amount based on the number of registrants at the meeting.  The local committee would be asked to recommend local organizations/projects and the Public Affairs Committee is asked to bring a recommendation in November for national and international places to contribute.  In addition, a voluntary check off for individual donations will be provided for meeting registrants. 

Executive Session (5:30 – 6:15)

III. Sunday, 3 August. Discussion Items/Actions (continued)

    1. Milwaukee Annual Meeting (Gross)

Two meetings are taking place this weekend before (but in conjunction with) the ESA meeting; one on pollination biology, and another on assisted migration. The pollination meeting brought in about 150 people, including a lot of international participants, and the program committee has put some pollination-related sessions at the beginning of the regular agenda. 

Due to the theme of the meeting there are more education-related activities.  One of the three concurrent symposia has an education theme and there is an Educator’s Day when local teachers are invited to attend.  The second Recent Advances talk (Diane Ebert-May) is scheduled for the Educator’s Day. 

A few changes this year in the way the meeting is run: Abstract review policy was changed to require explicit statement of results and conclusions.  Cancellation policy was changed so that if you cancel after 15 May you may not be permitted to present a paper next year; if you are a no-show, you may not be permitted to present a paper for the next two years (in addition to the $50 cancellation fee).  Lou has organized a contra dance (first time since Knoxville meeting). 

    1. Board of Professional Certification (Hunsaker, guest)

The certification program was started in 1981, had 74 certified ecologists in 1982, 450 in 2007, 492 as of 2008.  I.e., now about 5% of the total membership.  To encourage certification, the application process was streamlined, the benefits were advertised in Frontiers in October 2007, students have been notified about the program, etc.  Certification can help to advance the profession and image of the ESA, and provide mentors and role models for future ecologists.  The Board of Professional Certification proposes that the ESA Governing Board and Council members should be certified ecologists.  Advantages and disadvantages of such a requirement were discussed at length. It appears that several current Board members would not qualify for certification under the current criteria (they have not taken – although they may have taught – ecology courses).  The issue of certification will be considered at a greater length in a future meeting, and will be brought up at the Council meeting. 

    1. Issues in Ecology – Rapid Response Fund (Belnap)

The current process for identifying and then finding funding for topics for Issues in Ecology is rather lengthy.  It would be advantageous to have resources to make a more rapid response possible.  An estimate of the cost of putting together an issue is $16,000, and it might rise to $24,000 to bring together at a meeting a group of authors and a science writer for a few days.  There are other avenues for the ESA to respond quickly to issues that arise suddenly, such as the Rapid Response Teams and the new Public Policy Paper process adopted by the Board in 2006.

    1. Meetings with Editors in Chief and Chair, Publications Committee

1.  Data Archiving Policy (Michael Whitlock – editor of Am. Nat., by phone)

            David Baldwin reviewed briefly the history of this issue. Last year in San Jose Michael Whitlock organized a meeting of all Ecology journal editors.  The proposal about a data archiving policy was brought to the Governing Board last November, where the principal received support.  Whitlock’s hope is that all non-profit ecological journals will adopt a policy so that authors won’t be driven to commercial publishers as an alternative. NCEAS has established an archive where authors can register or archive data. 

            Six evolution journals have agreed to adopt a policy requiring data registration and encouraging data archiving by January 2009, and making this mandatory in January 2010.  Genbank is held up as an example of a required policy that has demonstrated it works well and provides a lot of value. Concerns by authors have included the time required (addressed by making the metadata requirements relatively minimal; e.g., a 1-page description of spreadsheet columns), and intellectual property rights (addressed by acknowledgement of data ownership and an optional one-year embargo (can be extended by the editor) on the archived data, but also by NSF’s requirement of data sharing for grant-funded data). 

            A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Governing Board requests the Publications Committee to develop a policy proposal on data registration/archiving for consideration by the Board at the November meeting. 
(See minutes from August 8, 2008 for additional action on this issue.)

NSF is taking this issue seriously, has just funded DRYAD with $2 million to help develop the capability for data registration and archiving.  DRYAD would like a statement of support for this policy change by ESA publications.  The ESA could also approve other places for data archiving, and could extend the default embargo time (e.g., to five years).

2. Publications Committee (Collins, guest)
There has been some turnover in the committee recently and new members are being identified for the committee. 

3. Bulletin Editor Review (Collins, guest)  
The review and Governing Board are supportive of the job being done by Editor-in-Chief Johnson. 

A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Governing Board approves reappointment of Ed Johnson as Editor-in-Chief for a term from January 2008 to December 2010. 

Although there are concerns about lack of readership, the Bulletin is important for providing a document of record for Society activities as well as a way of conveying information to members. Ideas for how to improve readership were discussed. 

Johnson has suggestions about changes for the Bulletin.  He suggests that White Papers should be published in the Bulletin, as should symposium reports, and that abstracts from the annual meeting be published in the July issue.  Issues in Ecology could also be published in the Bulletin as soon as they are ready, and reports of workshops and conferences sponsored by the Society should be archived in the Bulletin. Presidents and Vice-Presidents could provide information about their plans as they join the Board, as a way of facilitating input from members. Extended book reviews might be appropriate for the Bulletin. No ESA journal currently covers instrumentation, instrument arrays, cyber-infrastructure, and related topics, and refereed articles on those areas would be appropriate for the Bulletin.

A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Governing Board requests that the Publications Committee investigate current use of the Bulletin by the ESA membership and consider future directions that the Bulletin should take, and present a report to the Board at the Annual Meeting next year. 

4. TIEE Update (Collins)
TIEE  has been supported by a series of NSF grants and spearheaded by Charlene D’Avanzo, who has now requested the Society consider taking over the process of continuing the electronic publication.  The Publications Committee was asked at the May 2008 meeting to consider the issue.  There are about 1500 downloads per month.  Charlene estimates the annual cost of production about $20,000/yr (Katherine’s estimate is about $27,000).  The Education Section of ESA is growing (now about 400 members), and the Undergraduate Institution Section has about 65 members.  A voluntary check-off for these section members could help to provide support for publication costs.  There are no page charges or cost for downloading at present, and D’Avanzo would like to continue this policy, but there could be a small subscription charge.  TIEE could be tied to a journal, such as Ecological Applications or the Bulletin. Finding another institution’s digital library to take over production and hosting is another option.  Expansion to K-12 (from just undergraduate) education would also be a way to expand TIEE.  The Publications Committee will make its recommendations in November.

5. Ecology/Ecological Monographs (Strong, guest)
When Strong took on the job of Editor his mission was to “cut the flab” and try to make the journals more interesting.  The (unwritten) policy became to require more concise papers, which caused some agony on the part of authors but now seems to have succeeded. There was a perception that something was wrong with Ecological Monographs and that it was not well supported by the Editor in Chief, but that (mis-) perception seems to have passed.  His perception is that there is not a distinct difference between Ecology and Ecological Monographs, as the latter can have essentially longer Ecology papers, but the emphasis for EM is on multi-faceted, truly complex studies.  How can we take better advantage of that?  Length alone is not a sufficient criterion for; there is no upper limit to EM articles, and perhaps this should be better advertised, but a long mono-faceted paper is not appropriate for EM.  Speed of publication has been greatly improved, and should be maintained. 

6. EiC/Associate Editor of Ecological Monographs (Belnap/Collins)
Strong suggests that a change in name to Ecological Monographs and Reviews would be appropriate, and that a new Editor would be appropriate. There are some financial implications, and a financial analysis should be done (in the context, e.g., of declining library budgets).  The Publications Committee is asked to investigate the implications and mechanics of this recommendation..

7. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (Silver)
The concern about speeding up publication has been addressed in part by the E-View option, where papers can be made available as soon as they are ready for publication, and then put into print as possible given constraints on number of print pages and the need to minimize the time lag between the two versions. Papers that will not appear in print until the following year will have that year’s date on them, even though they appear electronically the previous year; this will not cause any problem for citations.

    1. New Business

1. President Christensen will continue to work on appointments for the Program Chairs for 2010 and 2011, having had a few possible candidates decline. 

Meeting adjourned at 12:32. 

David Inouye, Secretary

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