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Creating and Disseminating Ecological Knowledge

ESA is an organization of scientists, so it is core to our mission to foster the creation and dissemination of ecological knowledge. To accomplish this objective, we organize ecologists to identify emerging areas of inquiry, host forums for the exchange of scientific work, and sustain a vibrant publishing program to attract the best work in the field and serve the information needs of the ecological community.

Supporting Ecology Education

Four-Dimensional Ecology Education
The Four Dimensional Ecology Education Framework (4DEE) subcommittee continues to ambitiously orient educators towards aligning with the framework. They held numerous events over the year to spread the word, including holding workshops, conducting presentations, and publishing new material:

Exploring Biology Education
We additionally hosted the 6th Life Discovery – Doing Science Education Conference under the theme of Biology Education in an Evolving Landscape. Held virtually for the first time ever, the conference offered three keynote speeches, six panel discussions followed by panel breakouts, three showcases and workshops related to the 4DEE framework, 14 education share fair presentations, and a facilitated networking session that drew 243 participants from around the world.

Developing Scientific Educators
ESA also recognized seven faculty members who completed the ESA-QUBES Data Explorers Faculty Mentoring Network requirements as ESA Education Scholars. Participants were supported by two peer mentors who had participated in a previous FMN. The Data Explorers FMN was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation and ran virtually over the Spring 2019 semester in partnership with Quantitative Undergraduate Biology and Education Synthesis (QUBES) program.

Virtual Connections
To keep scientists and students connected in the weeks immediately following the COVID-19 lockdowns, we aggressively added webinar content to our schedule with members, but also developed a new model, the “water cooler chat,” that has less formal presentation and more peer interaction on a topic of mutual interest. Water coolers covered new ways to have “field” experiences under lockdown, countering scientific misinformation, fostering social connections while teaching online, and how educators can adapt their curriculum to hybrid or virtual models.

Resource Awareness

The U.S. Nagoya Protocol Action Group convened to discuss outreach strategies to ensure scientists are aware of the Nagoya Protocol and the importance of access and benefit-sharing when conducting international biological research. We developed a learning portal with use cases that will provide relevant, real-world examples of the benefits and challenges of navigating the Nagoya Protocol’s requirements.

Press Outreach

Science communicators of all types can help us to effectively broadcast important scientific information to the public as well as decisionmakers. Our Public Affairs Office routinely seeks opportunities to share the work of ecologists — ESA members and authors in our journals — whose research and other efforts advance the science of ecology and educate policymakers and the public about the value and importance of our science. ESA also hosts a press office at each Annual Meeting, where journalists and media can seek information on members, presenters, and research at the meeting. At this year’s virtual Annual Meeting42 media participants registered for the meeting and produced news stories during and following the event. ESA also publishes press releases about research at the meeting. 

Press Release on Notable Articles from ESA Journals

The advantage of changing sex in fish population recovery
A new study in Ecological Applications explores how sex-changing fish species can replenish their populations more quickly than fixed-sex species. 

Pollinating opossums confirm decades-long theory
In a new Ecology paper, São Paulo State University researchers present the first direct evidence of nocturnal pollination of plants by opossums. 

Increasing availability of LED flashlights changes human hunting patterns and highlights the importance of community management of resources 
In a new paper published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, an international team of tropical ecologists show how the advent of LED lights has increased the amount of time that commercial and subsistence hunters spend hunting at night. 

Machine learning streamlines detection of African forest elephant vocalizations
At the 2020 ESA Virtual Meeting, researchers describe how they trained an artificial neural network to “listen” to audio files and pick out all the sound bites containing the rumblings and grumblings of African forest elephants. 

Read more ESA press releases! 

The ESA promotes research articles by issuing press releases and working with universities, organizations, and federal agencies that also seek to obtain press exposure. In 2020, the Public Affairs Office produced over 30 press releases, and earned 143 external press releases from other institutions. ESA also earned over 600 news mentions in various platforms including newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and blogs. ESA regularly posts news articles based on its journal articles. Here are some notable examples from 2020: 


Ecological Monographs

Ecological Applications


Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

Explore more ESA research in the news! 

ESA Social Media Presence 

ESA’s Instagram account primarily shares journal articles, photo galleries, member submissions and EcoPics from Frontiers. The account averaged 2 posts per week in 2020 and grew its following from 800 to 1,500. A permanent Instagram landing page was created in 2020 allowing mobile users to easily use the account’s bio link to access all post URLs.  

ESA continues to have a strong following on Twitter (39,000) and Facebook (16,000), platforms where ESA shares journal article publications, society news, and public announcements.