Advancing Ecological Science

Current projects promoting the continued development of ecological science.

Scaling Up: Population and Community Ecology – A Workshop for Early Career Scientists

This very successful workshop, held June 3-7, 2013 in Linthicum, MD, brought 30 early career scientists together to explore continental-scale questions in population and community ecology while assessing the status of existing analytical, physical, and software tools needed to address these questions.  Participants also benefited from joint sessions held with a concurrent student workshop on the Future of Environmental Decisions, organized by the ESA Education and Diversity Programs Office.

Panel on Vegetation Classification

The Science Office provides staff support for the ESA Panel on Vegetation Classification. The Panel provides impartial scientific expertise to public, professional, and private partners in support of the development and use of the National Vegetation Classification Standard, a scientifically credible national vegetation classification system, adopted in 2008 as a federal standard by the Federal Geographic Data Committee.

The Panel’s goals are to:

  • Advance the application of the National Vegetation Classification Standard;
  • Advance quality assurance of the data in the national vegetation classification;
  • Support the application of the national vegetation classification to management and conservation objectives;
  • Foster and coordinate research in vegetation classification; and
  • Promote understanding of North American vegetation classification information and its importance to the national and international community.

Data Sharing Initiative

The Joint Working Group on Data Sharing and Archiving, representing the major professional societies that publish ecology, evolution, and organismal biology journals, was formed at a September, 2004, NSF-sponsored workshop on data sharing and archiving, hosted by the Ecological Society of America (ESA). The objectives of this follow-on project have been to implement recommendations from that workshop, including:

  • Facilitate continuing communication among professional societies on data sharing and archiving issues via a dedicated web site and periodic e-mails;
  • Widen participation in these activities by professional societies and international organizations;
  • Support workshops to develop a strategy for creating data registries, which describe data sets and provide information on how to access them; identify, and develop means to reduce or eliminate, cultural and other barriers to data sharing; develop a set of requirements and recommendations for data centers in ecology, evolution, and organismal biology; and explore the development of incentives for data sharing.

The Science Office is continuing to coordinate these efforts as a service to the biological sciences communities, including development of a workshop on data effectiveness in conservation planning and environmental protection.

Ecosystem Services Provided by Agricultural Wetlands

The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiated the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) to scientifically quantify the environmental benefits of conservation practices and programs. With a grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Science Office helped to produce a collection of technical manuscripts, each focused on these conservation programs on agricultural wetlands in a particular region of the country, as well as a nontechnical summary of the collection to be made available to the public and to decision makers. The technical manuscripts were published in an April 2011 Special Issue of Ecological Applications titled “Conservation of Wetlands in Agricultural Landscapes,” and the nontechnical summary is available here and on the CEAP website.

Emerging Issues Conference Series (formerly the Millennium Conference Series)

The Emerging Issues Conference Series, formerly the Millennium Conference Series, provides ESA members the opportunity to organize special conferences highlighting emerging, exciting ideas in ecology with the endorsement and support of the Society. The Series is intended to address high-visibility issues of wide interest in the science community, and organizers are encouraged to work across disciplinary boundaries, engage compelling speakers, and produce high-quality publications.