November 2002

ESA Governing Board
November 16-17, 2002
Washington, D.C.

The November 2001 meeting of the Governing Board was attended by Pamela Matson (President), Steve Carpenter (Past President), Ann Bartuska (President-Elect), Jill Baron (Secretary), James Clark (Vice President for Science), Timothy Schowalter (Vice President for Public Affairs), William Schlesinger (Vice President for Finance), Carol Brewer (Vice President for Education and Human Resources), Jim Gosz (Member-at-Large), Julie Denslow (Member-at-Large), Sharon Collinge (Member-at-Large), and Executvie Director Katherine McCarter. Managing Editor David Baldwin, SBI Director Mary Barber, Director for Public Affairs Nadine Lymn, Financial Manager Elizabeth Biggs, and SBI Program Manager Lori Hidinger were present for parts of the meeting. Guests Bob Peet and Michael Jennings were also present for parts of the meeting. The meeting was called to order by President Matson at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, November 16, 2001, and adjourned at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 17, 2001

I. Roll Call

  1. The Governing Board unanimously adopted the Agenda, with the addition of New Business, and approved the minutes from the August meeting.
  2. Ratification of votes taken since August 2001. There were no votes to ratify.

II. Reports

  1. There was no report from President Matson. She acknowledged and congratulated Executive McCarter and her staff for their perseverance and accomplishments despite the difficult times following the terrorist acts of September 11 and after.
  2. Executive Director McCarter presented a set of written reports to the Governing Board summarizing the activities of ESA staff. Mail service to ESA, which is processed through the Brentwood mail facility, has been interrupted due to anthrax issues, but is slowly coming back to normal. Highlights of staff reports include the following:
    1. Financial Manager Elizabeth Biggs reported that the annual audit of ESA finances for FY2001 went smoothly, with no surprises or recommendations in their report. In the calendar year 2001 ESA gained 26 new members over 2000, bringing ESA membership to 7833. Membership in chapters and many sections decreased for the second year in a row. The percentage of members subscribing to journals increased slightly in 2001. On-line subscriptions to libraries and members are increasing. The Madison annual Meeting attracted 2,843 participants and 71 exhibitors.
    2. Executive Director McCarter reported that discussions are underway with the National Parks Foundation for ESA to manage the Mellon Foundation-funded grants. The International Society for Ecological Modeling (ISEM) will participate in the 2003 Annual Meeting in Savannah, GA.
    3. SBI Director Barber reported on the Second International Nitrogen Conference (N2001) that was held October 14-18, 2001, in Potomac MD. More than 400 scientists and policy makers from 30 countries participated. Follow-up activities over the next year include briefings to policy makers, a post-conference statement, an article for Science, and meeting proceedings in both Ambio and TheScientificWorld. Other SBI meetings planned include “Effects of fishing Activities on Benthic Habitats: Linking Geology, Biology, Socioeconomics, and Management for November 12-14, 2002 in Tampa FL; “Ecological Science and Invasiveness of Weeds,” planned jointly between the Weed Science Society of America and ESA for November 2003. The second report from the ESA/Union of Concerned Scientists project on regional ecological effects of climate change has been released: Confronting Climate Change in the Gulf Coast Region: Prospects for Sustaining our Ecological Heritage. A third report is underway for the Great Lakes Region. ESA has agreed to undertake a review of reports on the historic range of habitat variability in the intermountain west for the USDA Forest Service. 
    4. Director for Public Affairs Lymn reported that ESA submitted a letter for the public record on the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. A number of other activities and meetings conveyed ecological information to ESA members and policy makers. Annual meeting press activities hosted about 20 reporters, and outlets covering the meeting included National Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Radio, Isthmus, BioMedNet, Science, Science Now, Environment News Service, The Capitol Times and perhaps others.

      Education and Outreach activities included submission of a 6-month interim proposal for SEEDS to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. An expanded proposal is under construction for submission in April. The BEN (BioscieEdNet) collaborative has made progress in developing a website for biological education materials, with ESA’s help,, and educational materials are nearly ready for beta-testing.

    5. Managing Editor Baldwin reported that PaperPath, the software company with whom ESA had contracted for inline manuscript submission, went out of business. This has not affected the manuscript stream, as PaperPath was not yet operational, and alternative online submission options are being explored. All journals are on schedule. Important news: the lag in publishing manuscripts is down to eight months after acceptance, and continuing progress is expected. 
  3. Vice-President for Finance Schlesinger reported that the recent downturn in the US economy has not been kind to restricted funds managed by ESA; the finance committee will explore and recommend different financial strategies, if any. First quarter finances presented by Executive Director McCarter showed that the Society budget is sound and on target with budget projections.

III. Discussion and Action Items

  1. Renewal of the Vegetation Classification Panel. Bob Peet and Michael Jennings presented a proposal to the Governing Board to make the Vegetation Classification Panel a permanent entity within ESA. The Vegetation Classification Panel has worked with other organizations since 1995 to develop a standardized, scientifically credible vegetation classification system for the United States. After discussion, a motion was written by Member-at-Large Julie Denslow:

    The motion is to renew the Panel on Vegetation Classification under the oversight of the Vice-President for Science and with staff support from the SBI, contingent on the availability of funds. The charter for the panel will be for five years renewable at the discretion of the Governing Board. 
    The objectives of the panel are to 1) facilitate and support the development, implementation, and use of a standardized vegetation classification for the United States; 2) guide professional ecologists in defining and adopting standards for vegetation sampling and analysis in support of the classification; 3) collaborate with partner organizations to maintain scientific credibility of the classification system through oversight of a peer review system; and 4) promote and facilitate international collaboration in development of vegetation classifications and associated standards. 
    Panel members (8-15) and chair will be appointed by the Vice-President for Science, who will receive nominations from the Vegetation Section and the Panel on Vegetation Classification. 

    The motion was seconded and unanimously accepted.

  2. The Board refreshed the Long Range Plan for ESA for the next three-year planning cycle. It determined the focus for the coming year, in addition to supporting the new ESA magazine, will be to enable and support the sections, chapters and committees as they move the Society forward toward its goals and objectives. The board discussed several ways that the sections, chapters, and committees can be more fully engaged in meeting ESA goals and objectives, including soliciting their feedback on the new journal content, soliciting membership suggestions from them for position paper committees and other committees, and providing an orientation and social event to precede the annual Council meeting, during which they will be briefed on current ESA objectives and efforts to meet them.

  3. The Governing Board received the report of the Search Committee for the Editor in Chief of ESA’s new publication, and discussed the establishment of an Advisory Committee for the new publication. Several excellent candidates were interviewed and a final candidate was selected. Subject to comments from referees, the President will make an offer. The name of the new publication remains elusive, as searches found that Ecos is the current name for an Australian journal. Past President Carpenter has accumulated a list of potential members for an Advisory Committee to the Editor-in-Chief. 

  4. Governing Board discussed ways of reaching out to student ESA members. Activities suggested were to keep close contact with Student Section Chair, and continue to facilitate communications during the annual meeting (similar to current Bagels with the Board). 

  5. ESA Position Papers

    1. General guidelines were refined for ESA Position Papers, including establishment of a review process for content and style. A motion was made by Vice-President Schowalter that the Governing Board ask the Editor-in-Chief of Ecological Applications to name a member of the Editorial Board to serve as editorial reviewer at the time a position paper goes to the Governing Board for technical review. The motion was seconded, and accepted unanimously. The editorial board member will report back to the Position Paper Monitor Position paper issues were discussed, including an editorial review process to ensure style and clarity. The ESA Headquarters Office will maintain a running list of Position Papers and monitors, notifying Governing Board when monitors of unfinished manuscripts rotate off the Board.

      Because Position Papers are meant to reflect the views of the entire Society, reviewer names will be sought from sections, and draft papers will be made available for review by the general membership by placing them on the member-only ESA website. The Biodiversity position paper will be the first to go through the general review process.

    2. President-Elect Bartuska moved to accept the proposal for a position paper on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) submitted by committee chair Allison Snow. The motion was seconded and unanimously approved. Member-at-Large Collinge was appointed monitor

    3. Vice President for Public Affairs Schowalter moved that the Governing Board approve the Position Paper titled “Balancing Societal and Ecological Needs for Freshwater” that was chaired by Jill Baron. Secretary Baron recused herself from the discussion. The motion was seconded and unanimously approved. The Governing Board asked that the paper be submitted to Ecological Applications.


  6. Vice-President Schowalter presented, and moved that the Governing Board accept, the following statement to address potential conflicts of interest for individuals asked to serve on position paper committees:

    ESA Position Paper committee members shall disclose any potential conflict of interest (COI). Examples include research funding from an organization with an interest in the conclusions of the position paper, or ownership of stocks in such organizations. Notification must be made in writing to the Executive Director of ESA. Issues related to the COI will be resolved by the Ethics and Appeals Committee, and if necessary, by the ESA Governing Board. A committee member may be permitted to participate by majority vote of the Governing Board. All communications will be held in confidence.

    The motion was seconded and unanimously approved.

  7. Awards issues

    1. The Governing Board agreed with a suggestion from the Awards Committee for a mechanism to pre-screen applications for the Buell and Braun Awards. Applicants are to submit a 250-word statement addressing the importance of their research when requesting consideration for Buell or Braun awards. The Awards Committee and the Vice President for Education and Human Affairs are to monitor this new process to see if it works.
    2. The Governing Board encourages the Program Chair to schedule awards early during the week of the Annual Meeting. 
  8. Program Chair Zedler presented a written report on status of planning for the annual meeting in Tucson in 2002. ESA is meeting jointly with the Society for Ecological Restoration, and several combined symposia are under consideration. E.O. Wilson will give a plenary address.

  9. A proposal is under development to renew the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program. The second round of funding will be sought from the Packard Foundation, and is being prepared by Diana Wall, who will serve as Principal Investigator. While the program will be administered through Colorado State University, the Ecological Society of America anticipates increased involvement, including helping to plan training workshops for ESA members at annual meetings, and facilitating training workshops for chapters.

IV. New Business

  1. Past President Carpenter requested names for the Nominating Committee.
  2. Vice President for Science Clark announced a meeting of the Science Committee in February and asked for ideas for research initiatives
  3. Member-at-Large Denslow brought up a newly-enforced Department of Justice ruling on federal scientist participation in professional societies. President-Elect Bartuska, who represents ESA to the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, will bring up the issue to this larger body.

Respectfully Submitted,

Jill Baron, Secretary