August 4, 2007

Minutes of the ESA Governing Board 
August 4-5, 2007 
San Jose, CA

Members Present: Alan Covich (President), Nancy Grimm (Past-President), Norm Christensen (President-Elect), Gus Shaver (Vice President for Science), Meg Lowman (Vice President for Education and Human Resources), Bill Parton (VP for Finance), David Inouye (Secretary), Dennis Ojima (Member at Large), Juan Armesto (Member at Large), Jayne Belnap (Member at Large), Rob Jackson (incoming VP for Science). Richard Pouyat (VP for Public Affairs) arrived mid-morning Saturday.

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 (Development), David Baldwin (Publications), David Gooding (Publications)

I. Roll Call, 9:00 AM

A.  The Governing Board unanimously adopted the proposed agenda.

B.  Minutes from the May, 2007 Governing Board meeting were ratified with three minor corrections.

II. Reports

A.  Report of the President (Covich)

Society is on track and making good progress on a number of fronts. NEON and ESA’s collaborations with it are proceeding well. There is excitement among the membership about the upcoming 100 th anniversary in 2015; we still need to decide on a venue for that meeting.

International activities.

Co-sponsorship of the EcoSummit in Beijing went very well in May, with 1400 representatives from 70 countries; the decision to co-sponsor was based on an invitation from Larry Li (UC Riverside), the US co-organizer. Covich gave a plenary talk as ESA President, Jim Collins gave a plenary talk on NSF’s interests in global ecology and NEON. A declaration issued by the attendees is posted on the ESA website. There was enthusiasm for holding a fourth Ecosummit perhaps in 2010 or 2011 in Africa. A proposal was approved to rotate meetings of INTECOL with those of future EcoSummits to provide more frequent opportunities for international exchanges among ecologists. ESA will continue to plan ways to participate in these international programs. The next INTECOL meeting is planned for August 16 to 21, 2009 in Brisbane, Australia on the theme “Ecology in a Changing Climate: Two Hemispheres- One Globe.” ESA is invited to serve on the Scientific Planning Committee to help develop the program. ESA’s assistance will continue in developing the Federation of the Americas, which was initiated at the annual meeting in Savannah in 2004. The Federation was further discussed at the Merida, Yucatan meeting in 2006 with presidents of ecological societies from Latin America. The new Ecological Society of Mexico was formed in 2006 and includes a group of ESA members. More discussion is needed to help keep this initiative moving ahead and to provide assistance to ecological societies throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. We’ve been invited to contribute to the British Ecological Society’s centennial in 2013 to be held in London. We will propose co-sponsoring some symposia as the planning develops with BES.

National Activities

ESA participated in several NEON-related plans. We will continue to seek opportunities for additional webcasts, surveys and workshops to assist NSF and NEON, Inc. in creating this continental scale research program. ESA will emphasize ecological education, data-archiving methodology and outreach to help prepare researchers for use of the technology and modeling that is being developed. A special session on NEON progress is scheduled for Monday morning and a meeting with students on Tuesday morning (Bagels with the Board).

ESA followed up with a letter of support to NSF for the Integrative Science for Society and environment: A strategic Research Plan (ISSE) that was discussed at previous meetings of the Governing Board. That effort seeks support for research related to integrating social and natural sciences in ecological studies across multiple scales.

Impacts of ESA publications continue to be a major concern as we track library subscriptions, impact factors and experiments with partial open access to journal articles. Development of workshops on biofuels and their associated environmental impacts is a high priority. Environmental footprints of ESA meetings are another topic of on-going discussion as more members become actively involved in the “low-carbon economy” and as ESA continues to seek ways to “green” our annual meetings and other activities.

The recently approved Millennium Conference Series will be a self-supporting operation, with about 100 participants each year as suggested by Past President Nancy Grimm. ESA will seek co-sponsors (other societies, institutions, foundations, etc.). A conference organizing committee will develop the agenda, identify speakers, review abstracts, and oversee production of publications resulting from the conference. Millennium Funds will be used to plan an initial conference. ESA will issue a call in September for proposals for conference topics and will pick the initial topic. The new Millennium Conference Series provides ESA members the opportunity to organize special conferences highlighting emerging ideas in ecology.

Regional Activities

Plans for ESA’s Southeast Knowledge Partnerships, initiated by Past President Jerry Mellilo, continue to develop with assistance from ESA staff and a Steering Committee. A strong effort is now underway to seek funding from several regional foundations. Regional Rapid Response Teams would be developed to assist in transfer of ecological information to a broad array of stakeholders. A discussion of topics for inclusion in this series of workshops and related activities will include the Southeast Chapter during their business meeting at noon on Wednesday and other meeting is scheduled for Wednesday evening. The April meeting of the Southeastern Biologists in South Carolina will include some additional discussion of topics for regional rapid response teams. The focus for these meetings will emphasize the linkages among ecological changes in landuse and water resources that relate to several ecological issues of concern in the southeast such as drought and fire ecology. A planning workshop is anticipated for 2008 in Atlanta.

President Covich has enjoyed learning about all of the Society’s many activities during his tenure this year.

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

The new website and blog are going smoothly. ESA joined Portico, a service that provides a permanent archive of electronic scholarly journals, and OARE (Online Access to Research in the Environment), a way to provide access to underdeveloped countries for our journals. Membership is strong, may reach 10,000 at this meeting or this year; this could be the largest annual meeting so far. Katherine is an officer (on track to become President) in the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives.

David Baldwin – all features for the journals website that were demonstrated in May are now implemented. Access to articles is now being purchased by individuals both through the publications website and JSTOR.

Liz Biggs: There are currently 3,700 registrants for the meeting, and there will probably be a few hundred walk-ins.

Sue Silver: August issue of Frontiers has an editorial about the potential future of Ecosummit. She and two others led two workshops after the EcoSummit about how to get published in international journals, with very receptive audiences. They’ve been invited to go back for more presentations (probably next year). Submissions to Frontiers have been increasing, and there is now a 6-month lag between acceptance and publication. As of next Monday the new pre-publication e-view site will go live.

Nadine Lymn: attendance by registered press may hit a record high (about 20 so far, including Nature, Science, Irish Times, San Jose Mercury News, Wired, etc.). Harold Upton (senior analyst for Congressional Research Service), a senior policy person, has been invited to the meeting. Rapid Response Team luncheon will feature Nancy Baron (SeaWeb) and Chad English to talk about pushback and how to cope with it, and regional policy efforts. A recent NY Times article about biological invasions linked to the recent ESA paper about this topic.

Ramona Crawford: continuing work on last year’s development plan, working on the Southeast Regional Knowledge Partnership, and developing corporate opportunities (which may be quicker to respond than foundations).

Teresa Mourad: has been on staff for a month now (has a degree in environmental education, came from North American Association for Environmental Education). Four SEEDS fellowships have been awarded (a fifth is deferring for now). There are now 42 chapters. 31 SEEDS students are attending this annual meeting. Volume 5 of TIEE has been published and CDs will be available soon. The new EcoEdNet site was launched last week.

Cliff Duke: Aleta Wiley (recent graduate of the program in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology that David Inouye directs at the University of Maryland ) is a new staff member as of two weeks ago, while Devon is remaining part-time. There will be a meeting here for editors of scientific journals. Some SEEDS students will be blogging about this meeting. There is an announcement in the program about the ESA Millennium Conference Series.

C. Report of the Vice President for Finance (Parton/McCarter)

The quarterly (unaudited) statement of revenue and expenses was presented and the budget is in good shape, with a significant contribution to the goal of $5 million of unrestricted reserves (now about $1.6 million).

Parton: we’re at about $1.1 or $1.2 million in the managed fund, getting about 10%/year return. About 40% in bonds, balance in stocks (mutual funds), being managed conservatively.

III. Discussion/Action Items

A.  Fiscal Year 2007-2008 ESA Budget (McCarter)

  1. Approval of Proposed Budget: Approved unanimously for presentation to the Council.
  2. Long Range Planning Grants: we need a Board sub-committee to review proposals; Members-at-Large have usually constituted that sub-committee and are asked to do so again. The quality of proposals was a problem last year, and it is suggested that we let the Council know that there are guidelines on the ESA website.
  3. Committee funds: traditionally, education, public affairs, and science committees have been allocated funds, with funds for one other committee that needs to meet The Board agreed to fund a meeting of the Publications Committee as the fourth committee. We may need to increase the travel funds for these activities, and use Board initiative funds for the fifth committee.
  4. Board initiative funds:. The Board agreed to use these funds to support a survey by the Ad Hoc Publications Subcommittee ($2000), a third meeting of the Ad Hoc Publications Subcommittee ($5600), an extra funded meeting of EHRC on site at the 2008 annual meeting ($5600), to hire an intern for a 2010 summit on environmental education ($6,000) and to support a sabbatical position for an ESA member to work on policy by paying for the AAAS orientation ($2500-3000).
  5. Discussion of council presentation – the context for the proposed budget.

B. Biofuels conference and workshop (Parton, Pouyat, Ojima, Duke)
This has become a bigger issue in recent years, and has the potential for massive changes in land use; what will be the ecological consequences? Biofuels are also increasingly an international issue. A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board supports the idea of sponsoring a conference and workshop on biofuels in early 2008 in the Washington D.C. area, as proposed by the committee

C. Southeast Knowledge Partnership (Covich, Crawford, Lymn)
There will be two meetings about this on Wednesday. Work is proceeding on a case statement for presentation to potential funders. We hope this regional model will be extended to other regions, by using chapters in particular as building blocks (some of these need to be expanded or reinvigorated).

D. Proposed economic growth policy statement
The proposed statement does not relate to SBI, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, or some other activities that ESA has already endorsed. It’s a pedagogical statement, and not very policy oriented. A session (workshop) at the next annual meeting could be devoted to this topic. It would be good to incorporate the perspective of ESA members from developing countries. A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board asks the Public Affairs committee to work with interested ESA members to identify ways for the Society to consider the issue of economic growth, which could include a symposium and workshop at the next annual meeting, and developing a policy statement and policy paper.

E. Owens Valley science based conflict resolution (Christensen, Jackson, Duke)
About 100 years ago the city of Los Angeles engineered a project to move water to the city. About 1960-70 the city installed pumps to move water from the shallow aquifer in the valley to augment water for the city. The process for monitoring water by using vegetation status and using this information to make decisions about use of the pumps has gone on for a couple of decades. The committee met recently with the Inyo county water department and city of Los Angeles water officials, who are interested in having ESA contribute to a review of the monitoring program or other ecological aspects of the water use issue. Another possibility would be to sponsor a workshop to identify what is known and what needs to be known about the issue. A third possibility could be a symposium on land and water use and its impact on vegetation change. The Inyo county and LA officials might also come up with other suggestions for how ESA might be able to help. We may have a concrete proposal by the November meeting. LA city covered the costs for the initial meeting and would do so for future activities.

F. Public Policy priorities (Pouyat, Lymn)
Each year the Public Affairs committee and office try to come up with a list of priorities guide activities for the coming year’s activities. The proposed list includes science education, climate change, energy development, invasive species, the Endangered Species Act, and a new one since last year, environmental monitoring. How can we anticipate hot new topics that are coming down the line? Ocean acidification might be an example. ECOLOG-L and the ESA blog might be good ways to solicit ideas.

G. INTECOL proposal (McCarter)
The ESA could propose to serve as the Secretariat of INTECOL for an initial period of four years, providing services such as collection of dues, financial statements, organizing Board meetings, coordinating communications with members, assisting with long-range planning, hosting the web site, etc. ESA would negotiate a yearly fee with ITECOL to help cover expenses. Serving as Secretariat would be a way to help INTECOL achieve its goals and to expand our involvement with international ecological societies. A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board supports the idea of making a proposal to INTECOL for ESA to serve as Secretariat.

H. ESA HQ office move (McCarter)
The building in which ESA’s office is currently housed is slated to be demolished for redevelopmen and tenants are being asked to relocate before their leases terminate. The landlord would be expected to cover costs (estimated about $200,000) for moving. A search is going on now for a new location in DC, which would be within our current budget, with about 7,000 square feet (combining the offices now in DC and Silver Spring ).

I. ESA/SER joint statement (Lymn)
SER contacted ESA a few months ago about the idea of issuing a joint statement to release during the annual meeting. They took the lead in developing a statement, which was reviewed by the Public Affairs committee. Both Boards are now considering the joint statement with the goal of issuing a press release on Monday 6 August. A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The ESA Board approves of and endorses the SER position statement “Global Strategy for Mitigating Climate Change”.

J. Environmental Justice section proposal
Although it is too late for the Council to vote on this proposal at this meeting (insufficient prior notice), we can approve the proposal and notify the Council about it tomorrow (with a following vote by mail after the appropriate period of notice). The proposers will be asked to incorporate a five-year review into the by-laws. A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: the ESA Board recommends approval of the proposal for a new Environmental Justice section.

Executive session, followed by adjournment.

5 August resumption of meeting

K. Meetings issues

  1. San Jose meeting (Kerry Woods, guest)
    We’re trying a few new things this year: an invited speaker to summarize the state of the art, and a new process for sorting contributions into sessions (including an element of self-selection by authors, using pull-down lists of keywords culled from last year’s set of keywords used by authors). One challenge was Devon ‘s departure at an awkward time, and the other was the size of the meeting (having to convert a large number of talks to posters). 163 oral sessions, 810 presentations were submitted as posters, some others were changed from talks to posters. It seems that many graduate students feel strongly about preferring to give oral presentations (a larger audience).
  2. Future meetings (Steve Chaplin, guest)
    This is Steve’s last year; Kiyoko Miyanishi will be replacing him as Chair. The committee is bringing recommendations for both 2012 and 2014 this week (2012 will be formally recommended on Friday)

     i. 2014 annual meeting site
    2014 recommendation is Sacramento, CA. West coast meetings seem to draw large numbers (e.g., Davis, Portland ). Cost of the convention center rental is a good deal (probably about $21,000). The area around the convention center has been developed nicely in recent years. Meeting would have to be the second week of August, and dorm space is not a very low-cost alternative, so one option is to use low-cost hotels rather than dorms. A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: the ESA Board approves the proposal for Sacramento for the 2014 meeting.

     ii. 2012 annual meeting site
    The proposal for 2012 will probably be Portland (2004 was a popular meeting there). Milwaukee, Pittsburg and Portland have teamed up with an offer of free use of the convention center for us in Portland because of our use of Pittsburg in 2009. Dorm situation wasn’t great (10 miles to Lewis and Clark dorms, which is a problem at rush hour), but this time we could use dorms at Portland State (on the light trail line). There is no hotel attached to the convention center, but there is a contract going out for one that might be available by 2012.

     iii. 2015 100 th anniversary options
    2015 (centennial) meeting. 1914 AAAS meeting in Philadelphia included 20 ecologists who talked about forming a society, and they decided that in 1915 they would put out a call for ecologists to come to the next AAAS meeting. 40-50 ecologists attended the AAAS meeting in Columbus, OH in 1915, and a constitution was approved. There was a field meeting the next spring/summer (4 papers presented and a field trip), and then the first meeting was in New York City in 1916. Do we want to go to NYC in 2015, which would cost a lot more? Or go to a second-tier city (perhaps Columbus )? The Board asked the Meeting Committee to bring at least two 2015 options for consideration. 

  3. carbon offsets (Lymn)
    Clean Air-Cool Planet has issued a consumer guide to carbon offset providers, and the top-ranked providers include the organization (Sustainable Travel) that we will support. As of recently, 368 members have made carbon offset contributions for travel to this meeting. It was suggested that a group be named to review options for the best science based offset programs.

    Additional discussion focused on how to provide additional travel support for graduate student travel to the annual meeting. Approximately 40 students are currently given travel awards, mostly through efforts of individual sections or chapters.

L. Publications Subcommittee update (Belnap; guests Don Strong, Dave Schimel)

Larger issues discussed by the Subcommittee include:

  1. developing a long-term vision and image for the publications portfolio. Ecology for mainstream ecology articles, Ecological Monographs for synthesis, review, and monographic articles, Frontiers to reach other disciplines and the interested public, and perhaps a new journal for fast-track, hot topic papers (although Ecology Letters may have occupied this niche). Many people think of Ecology as rather stodgy, slow turnaround, although this is not the current situation.
  2. For Ecology and Ecological Applications : maybe have a journal within the journal – make the Reports and Communications section as distinct as possible from the rest of the journal, make them as distinct as possible from other parts of the journal, elevate their visibility by posting them on the Web, adding color to figures, make them open access, invite leading names to write for these sections, offer pre-prints. Additional articles could be made open access if the author pays (but perhaps with a ceiling of 50% of articles to be made open access). Don Strong and Dave Schimel offer support for all of these ideas, particularly a Web presence and pre-prints; Allen Press hasn’t been as responsive as they want in this regard.

    The reviewing process is now almost as fast as Science or Nature in some cases, but it takes 10-12 months to get the papers on-line (vs. 3 months for Oecologia ). Although this turnaround is not bad compared to other society journals. We are very highly selective (around 30% acceptance) compared to many other society journals, and our citations reflect this.

    A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: the ESA Board supports efforts by the Publications office to accelerate posting of page proofs of Rapid Reports and Communications sections of Ecology and Ecological Applications on the journal web sites, to make these articles open access, to include color versions of on-line figures, and to promote these changes. Information on the cost of the change in color and of additional staff to speed up editorial work will be presented at the November meeting. 

  3. Ideas for promoting and improving readership of the Bulletin include advertising the table of contents, using Frontiers to help advertise the Bulletin , having Board members help to draw attention to it.
  4. The importance of and ideas for increasing subscriptions to Frontiers were discussed by the Subcommittee. 
  5. The Subcommittee recommended that supervision and review of Editors-in-Chief remain as currently structured, and that all ESA journals be formally connected to and reviewed by the Publications Committee. 
  6. David Baldwin will contact JSTOR about the possibility of scanning back issues of the Bulletin in order to provide an on-line historical record. 
  7. The Subcommittee thinks there should be a survey of the membership about issues related to publications. A draft will be presented to the Board before the November meeting. 
  8. The data registry is difficult to use, needs to be more user-friendly, and there should be some incentive for people to use it. 
  9. Ecological Monographs – syntheses, and monographic articles are appropriate for it; don’t necessarily have to be long articles; nature of the papers rather than length could be the defining character of the journal. At present, reviews are not considered appropriate. There seems to be a perception issue with regard to how potential authors consider the journal. A crisper description of appropriate papers on the Web page might help.

M.  New Business

In May we approved establishment of a new competitive invitation-only Millennium Conference Series, probably to start in 2009. There’s an announcement of this in the program supplement at this meeting.

The Board supports the idea of having tap water rather than bottled water at future meetings.

Meeting adjourned at 12:00, 5 August 2007

David Inouye, Secretary