David Inouye elected ESA president for the society’s 100th year
Sep23

David Inouye elected ESA president for the society’s 100th year

ESA members have elected David Inouye, a plant ecologist and professor emeritus of the Department of Biology at the University of Maryland, College Park, to lead the Society as president of the board of directors for the 2014-15 year. Inouye stepped into the post this August at the 99th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society. “I’m greatly honored to be leading the ESA as it reaches its 100th anniversary. I’ve been a member for over four decades, since I was a graduate student, and have watched and participated as the Society has grown in membership, number and prestige of journals published, size of its annual meeting, and all other metrics of success. The Washington, D.C. office provides a valuable service to government and other organizations by making the expertise of its membership available for advice on ecological issues, and we have an excellent educational program that is helping to train a diverse next generation of ecologists. We will also expand our international impact this year as we jointly publish a new journal with the Ecological Society of China. I look forward to the next century of growth and success by the Society,” Inouye said. Inouye’s pollinator and wildflower research has encompassed pollination biology, flowering phenology, plant demography and plant-animal interactions in both the US and abroad since 1971. Over his 44-year tenure at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab near Crested Butte, Colorado, Inouye has discovered that the wildflower growing season has increased by 35 days since the 1970s. His long-term studies of flowering phenology and plant demography are providing insights into the effects of climate change at high altitudes. He is a lead author for the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) fast-track assessment of pollinators, pollination and food production, sits on the governing boards of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign and the USA-National Phenology Network, is a is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Roundtable on Public Information in the Life Sciences, and serves on numerous scientific publication editorial boards. Inouye has taught courses in ecology and conservation biology at UMD and also instructed at the University of Colorado’s Mountain Research Station, the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, and with the Organization for Tropical Studies.  ...

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#SketchYourScience at ESA 2014
Sep15

#SketchYourScience at ESA 2014

Can you describe your research with a sketch? What would you draw? Johanna Varner, Erin Gleeson, and Nancy Huntly are passionate about mountain research — and about promoting science communication. They’ve Storified what happened when they roamed the halls at the 2014 Annual Meeting in Sacramento, asking ecologists to #SketchYourScience. [View the story “#SketchYourScience at ESA 2014” on...

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Volunteer ‘eyes on the skies’ track peregrine falcon recovery in California
Sep11

Volunteer ‘eyes on the skies’ track peregrine falcon recovery in California

Datasets from long-running volunteer survey programs, calibrated with data from sporadic intensive monitoring efforts, have allowed ecologists to track the recovery of peregrine falcons in California and evaluate the effectiveness of a predictive model popular in the management of threatened species. In recovery from the deadly legacy of DDT, American peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus anatum) faced new uncertainty in 1992, when biologists proposed to stop rearing young birds in captivity and placing them in wild nests. Tim Wootton and Doug Bell published models that year in Ecological Applications, projecting population trends for the falcon in California, with and without direct human intervention in the falcons’ reproductive lives. They concluded that the birds would continue to recover without captive rearing, though the population growth rate might slow. Fledgling introductions had bolstered wild falcon numbers and genetic diversity, but survival would ultimately depend on cleaning up lingering DDT contamination to create healthy conditions for wild birds, they argued. This month, they return to their 1992 predictions to see how the American peregrine falcons have fared over the last two decades, with a new report featured on the cover of the September 2014 issue of Ecological Applications. Though falcon numbers are lower than hoped for, data from volunteer survey programs, calibrated with more intensive surveys by wildlife biologists, confirmed a recovery trajectory well within the trends Wootton and Bell predicted. “The challenge was to come up with data,” said Wootton. “Once a species falls off the endangered species list, there is not a lot of funding to track how management, or lack of management, is doing,” he said. “There was limited data that was appropriate being collected on the falcon, so we turned to a couple of well-known bird censuses that cover wide geographic areas.” The follow-on study provided insights in the use of volunteer-generated data as well as an important test of population viability analysis, a tool increasingly used to evaluate alternative management plans and identify conservation priorities for endangered species, including sea turtles, grizzlies, and desert tortoises. It supported the importance of considering the health and behavior of geographic groups of a threatened species within a larger population. The 1992 paper identified falcon population “sinks” in parts of Southern California where chemical contamination lingered and the birds could not maintain numbers without migrants from healthier areas. Unfortunately, the falcon’s recovery has continued to lag in these areas. Once widespread across North America, the world’s fastest bird had disappeared from the east by mid-century and was near extinction on the continent by 1975, when a survey found only 159 breeding pairs of American peregrine falcons. Chicks often did not survive to...

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#IAmANaturalist storified
Sep10

#IAmANaturalist storified

On Monday, ESA’s Natural History Section asked you to tweet your naturalist identity with pride during their #IAmANaturalist campaign, and you obliged, coming through with humor, awe, and humility—sometimes fishy, sometimes muddy, and always with great style. Tweeters shared their love of natural history and testified to how it roots their life and their research, outreach, and education endeavors. We’ve storified some of the action here. It just keeps getting better, so don’t stop until you get to the end. [View the story “#IAmANaturalist” on...

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#IAmANaturalist reclaim the name campaign celebrates natural history research
Sep08

#IAmANaturalist reclaim the name campaign celebrates natural history research

Are you a naturalist? Join the grassroots effort to reclaim the name. ESA’s Natural History section is calling on you to assert your naturalist identity with pride by tweeting a photo to #IAmANaturalist on Monday, September 8, 2014. Guest poster Kirsten Rowell explains why. [update: see some of the fantastic #IamaNaturalist photos and tweets in our September 10 collection or scroll down this post for more blog excerpts.]   I am a Naturalist — I use careful observations of the natural world to inform my daily life and research. My practice of natural history feeds my research program with questions, and answers. But I don’t think I’ve ever introduced myself as a naturalist. When was the last time you heard an ecologist introduce herself as a NATURALIST? Why do we reject that identity?  Isn’t natural history the seed of many ecological questions—and in some cases the answer? This is why we (@esanathist ) are starting a #IAmANaturalist campaign to raise awareness about the prevalence of naturalists in ecology and the importance of natural history. Without natural history knowledge, I would be lost.  In my research I look for patterns in nature and I ask questions about what shapes those patterns. In the absence of natural history information, our progress toward an understanding of complex ecological questions grinds to a halt. Impacts of climate change?  Depends on the natural history. Management of threatened populations?  The devil is in the details of how and where they live and die. Disease prevention?  Same story.  All of our sophisticated models are only as good as the natural history that informs them. The field of Ecology is young, and it stands on the shoulders of natural history. Many of the icons in ecology, such as G.W. Carver, E. Leopold, E.O. Wilson, J. Goodall, J. Lubchenco, S. Earle, R. Kimmer, etc. were and are fundamentally naturalists, observing and recording the natural world in situ and in its entirety with a keen appreciation to connections and interactions.  It is the first-hand experiences in nature that give us the ”Rachel Carlson / Gene Likens” insights that unlock mysteries and help solve major environmental solutions.  It is also the naturalist instinct that is open to the abundance of complexity in ecosystems, which fuels our passion for better scholarship. Yet most ecologists don’t teach natural history courses. Anecdotally, this seems especially true for junior faculty. Over the past decades we have seen a steady decline in the practice of natural history, perceived value of natural history, and natural history course work for biology majors (Tewksbury et al. 2014). These statistics beg the question, what will the field of ecology look like in a future without...

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