May 2009

DRAFT Minutes of the ESA Governing Board
May 21-22, 2009
Washington , DC

Members Present: Sunny Power (President), Mary Power (President-Elect), Norm Christensen (Past-President), Laura Huenneke (VP for Public Affairs), Bill Parton (VP for Finance), David Inouye (Secretary), Josh Schimel (Member-at-Large), Emily Stanley (Member-at-Large), Ann Kinzig (Member-at-Large), Rob Jackson (VP for Science), Meg Lowman (VP for Education and Human Resources; present just Tuesday morning)
Staff Present:
Katherine McCarter (Executive Director), Elizabeth Biggs (Director of Finance), Sue Silver (Editor), Teresa Mourad (Director of Education), Nadine Lymn (Director of Public Affairs), David Baldwin (Publications).

Board and staff met all day 20 May for a long-range planning session facilitated by Myriam Springuel.

Tuesday 21 May 2009. 9:02 AM, meeting is called to order by President Power.

I. Roll Call & Agenda

  • The Governing Board unanimously adopted the proposed agenda.
  • Ratification of votes taken since the November 2008 meeting.
    • The minutes from November 2008 Board meeting were unanimously adopted.
    • Approval of Senator Tom Udall (NM) as the 2009 Regional Policy Award winner, ratified unanimously.

II. Reports

  • Report of President Power
  • More business than usual has been conducted by e-mail since the last meeting (e.g., the statement on economic growth)
  • President Sunny Power, President Elect Mary Power, VP Lowman, and ED McCarter attended the Howard Hughes/AAAS sponsored meeting about changes that need to take place in undergraduate biology education. Lowman’s talk about ESA activities was “a barn-burner”. ESA will continue to participate in these programs.
  • President Power attended a meeting of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents
  • She also attended the SEEDS field trip to the Sevilleta LTER site, and was very impressed with the students and the alumni who participated.
  • Report of Executive Director McCarter and the staff
  • See the 10-page report in the Board meeting notebook
  • McCarter and Elizabeth Biggs have been keeping a close eye on how ESA finances are doing (reasonably well)
  • The past several months have been a very active time for the staff.


  • SEEDS has been renamed so that ‘D’ stands for diversity (not development)
  • Three Fellows were supported this year, and 5 supplemental REU Fellows, all from groups underrepresented in science.
  • SEEDS welcomed some new chapters (now up to 52).
  • President Power’s talk at the Sevilleta field trip was very well received.
  • David Inouye will be one of the speakers at next month’s field trip to the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory; it’s good to have Board members participate in these field trips.
  • Education program is working with four ESA sections to help build EcoEd Digital Library Teaching Showcases featuring cutting edge scientific findings in Applied Ecology, Aquatic Ecology, Paleoecology, and Urban Ecology.
  • Another issue of TIEE was published.
  • Discussion is underway on how much involvement to have with K-12 programs.
  • Conversation is underway with Student Conservation Association (which has a special strength in high school ages) about possible partnership.
  • Fundraising – Teresa is working on corporate opportunities (not many focus on undergraduate programs). The Mellon Foundation grant is coming to an end.
  • Teresa will go to the LTER All Scientists meeting in September to advertise SEEDS opportunities.

Frontiers is getting the opportunity to publish “cool stuff”; e.g., a paper coming out soon on the science behind the analysis of feathers from birds that flew into the airliner that crashed recently in the Hudson River. Another is about how much panda habitat was lost during the May 2008 earthquake in China. 

  • Membership is down about 2% over last year. Institutional subscriptions are about flat or up slightly. Government of Brazil is now paying for a site license for institutions in that country. It’s unclear still how the international economic situation will affect meeting attendance, although abstracts are up over last year.


  • Communication Officer Christine Buckley is doing a very good job, and has reinvigorated the ESA Blog (EcoTone; now has about 500 hits/day).
  • Press releases have gone out regularly for papers in all the journals.
  • An evening session organized by Buckley at the annual meeting will be an opportunity for “slam pitches” by researchers presenting ideas to the press and getting immediate responses about the work’s newsworthiness.
  • Science Policy Analyst Piper Corp has done a good job with preparation of the economic growth statement, and keeping members informed about key legislative developments.
  • The graduate student policy award program has been very successful and recently allowed for four ESA graduate students to participate in a two-day Hill event..
  • A recent ESA/NEON field trip for congressional staffers showcased the Smithsonian’s Conservation and Research Center (a candidate NEON site).
  • A congressional briefing is being prepared for this summer to look at western water issues and climate change.


  • A major concern is the size of the (growing) backlog of papers accepted for publication. It’s not affecting the fast track papers, but papers accepted now won’t appear until 2010.
  • The Forum format has been used three times in the past year, a significant increase in its use.
  • A new type of paper for Ecological Monographs (new EIC Ellison’s idea), a synthetic review, will appear for the first time in November.
  • Statistics on downloads and site hits are strong for the Bulletin (18,000 downloads in 2009), but it’s unclear who is reading it (most of the Board does not).
  • Journal style was changed in January (for the first time in 90 years) in response to Inouye’s request to facilitate downloading of citation information for bibliographic databases (titles are no longer all capitals, which necessitated retyping them to create the required format for citing articles for ESA journals).
  • All back issues of the Bulletin will be available on JSTOR soon.
  • Science Committee (represented by VP Jackson; Duke is out sick)
  • The committee met earlier this week.
  • See Duke’s report in the Board notebook.


  • Report of Vice President for Finance Parton 10:55 AM
  • Third Quarter Financials (McCarter)

We currently have about $100,000 of revenue over expense (about half of what we had this time last year), but the expectation is that this figure will be close to 0 by the end of the fiscal year (first time in many years that we haven’t had a fairly healthy operating surplus).

Board members asked several questions about revenue and expenses, and were satisfied with the explanations (and very pleased at the relatively strong financial situation compared to that of many other non-profits and academic institutions).

  • Investment Update (Parton)

The most recent minimum in our investment portfolio was 2 months ago; we made some money last month. Balance of restricted funds is now about $860,000 (previous high was about $1,050,000, so we were down about 20% at most, thanks to our relatively conservative investment strategy).

III. Discussion / Action Items 10:37 AM

  • Report of the Audit Committee (Jackson)
  • The Committee had a conference call with the auditors. The bottom line is that all the changes recommended last year have now been implemented. A minor change in asset calculation has been recommended; a policy proposal will be presented at the August meeting.
  • There will be some new accounting rule changes that will affect the coming year. E.g., we will need a policy on what to do if income from funds designated for awards is insufficient to fund the awards (in which case we’d need to not give the award that year, reduce the amount, or make up the difference from other funds).
  • A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board accepts the results of the 2008 audit.


  • Proposed 2009-2010 ESA Budget (Parton/McCarter/Biggs)
      • Discussion of Budget

A proposed budget is presented. From 2003-2007 membership grew significantly and the Society benefitted from larger than anticipated budget surpluses (institutional subscription revenue increased, meetings generated surpluses, etc.). Member subscriptions are now decreasing 10-15%/yr, as anticipated, and institutional subscription rates can’t be increased much. Library subscriptions are anticipated to drop 10% in 2010. We project membership to drop by 5% in 2010. Revenue is projected to drop slightly over this year, and expenses are budgeted to decline slightly as well.

      • Proposed Board Strategic Initiatives

K-12 teacher travel to the ESA annual, graduate student travel, and an ecology education summit are suggested. Also funding for four additional graduate student policy awards. The PAC suggests a guidebook for how ESA members can get involved in policy at levels ranging from local to national. It would be nice to bring the new president of the Mexican Ecological Society to an ESA annual meeting (Ken Oyama, nuevo presidente de la Sociedad Científica Mexicana de Ecología AC). A list of ideas will be compiled for consideration at the August meeting.

  • Development Committee Update (Christensen/McCarter)

The Committee met recently. One idea raised there was to provide additional training in the development area for staff (e.g., Duke, Mourad, McCarter). Some additional refinement of ESA’s goals for development would be appropriate if ESA were to re-establish a development program in the future. There may be opportunities among the membership, e.g., aging ecologists with no heirs, who could be in a position to make significant bequests. ED McCarter is probably best placed to continue to contact senior ESA members about giving to the Millennium Fund; we should make sure she is able to devote the time needed for this activity. Likely new members for the Development Committee (5-6 members would be good) could include people in administrative positions who have development experience, or people particularly interested in philanthropy. 
The SEEDS program will initiate a few different projects aimed at fund raising, including soliciting leadership gifts from previous donors, and a “give $5, bring 5 (friends to do the same)” program at the annual meeting. This is part of a year-long “Growing the Future of Ecology” fundraising campaign.
We need to make sure we know what the priorities are for fundraising, and not have too much of a smorgasbord of giving opportunities that would confuse the membership. We should revisit (maybe update) the draft case statement for presentation to potential donors.

Lunch speaker – Kei Koizumi, Assistant Director for Federal Research and Development, Office of Science Technology and Policy, gave a talk about the status and future of R&D funding in the Obama administration (which look promising for the ecological community).

  • Publications Program Review – one of the regular 3-year reviews, but the first with explicit instruction to address integration with long-range planning goals.


David Baldwin led off with the legacy of the ESA publications, then recent innovations and accomplishments, goals and ongoing projects, concerns, and opportunities on the horizon. (Focusing now on the publications handled by the office in Ithaca, and not those coming, for example, from the Science Program.)

ESA publications are a central part of the ESA’s mission, explicitly mentioned in the mission statement. David displayed a quote from 1920 from the President of the ESA shortly after its inception, about the need for a journal. Plant World Association turned its journal (Plant World) over to the ESA to become the official organ of the society; Ecology was established as a quarterly journal in 1920. Ecological Monographs began in 1931, Ecological Applications in 1991. A computerized manuscript tracking system (still used, in part) was instituted in 1986. The first Special Issue was issued in 1998 (7 more to date, 3 of them in 2008). In 1982, ESPS was established for “supplemental publications”; this was the predecessor for Ecological Archives.

1995: ESA joined JSTOR, and Conservation Ecology was launched as an online journal. 1996: SGML coding began in preparation for online publishing. 1998: Ecological Archives was initiated. 1999: journals went online. 2000: Ecology became a monthly publication; Ecological Applications went to bi-monthly

2002: The Bulletin became digital only. 2003: First issue of Frontiers. 2006: totally digital processing of manuscripts. 2007: adoption of XML standards. 2008: moved to Atypon online platform.

Metrics for the ESA journals are good (High impact factors, citations, Eigenfactor score, etc.). Submissions are increasing about 10%/yr (since 2000). Length of papers has declined a little (the Strong effect, as EIC Strong pushes for shorter papers), and number of pages published each year has gone up over the past few years. Since 2005-06, submissions to EM have gone up 9%, to EA 16%. Some 30-40% of submissions are now returned without review.

Bids are being solicited for composition, print, and online presentation to make sure we’re using the best vendor. A Web-based preprint option upon acceptance will be implemented soon. Synthetic Reviews will begin to appear in EM this year. A policy on data archiving may be implemented soon (depending on what the Board decides), as Dryad ( is implemented by a variety of biological societies.

On the horizon: open access (threat or promise?), the future of print (when will ESA journals become digital only?), publication of “issues and volumes” or just individual articles, and who’s responsibility is archiving (libraries or the ESA). Open access fee would have to be $3,000 to cover costs, $4,000 to replace current revenue from print, and even more to cover the current policy of grants to authors without funding to pay page charges.

Ideas for long-range planning: faster publication, data archiving, higher media visibility (links from articles to press releases), increased open access, all electronic publication. These are a few of the one-page list of potential topics to explore more fully.

Concerns: the growing backlog and decline in speed of publication, potential impact of open access, declining subscriptions, and covering the costs of innovations such as Ecological Archives and the proposed Data Registry/Archive. Our publications could be faster, better, and cheaper, but only two of these three variables may be feasible for now; which two should we choose?

Financial overview: A part-time intern’s job is to call librarians about subscribing to Frontiers, and now, to all journals. Permissions, copyrights, subscriptions, news releases, and podcasts for publications are all handled by the D.C. office. 41% of income comes from journals (about 39% of unrestricted revenue). The single most important source of income to the Society is institutional subscriptions, which are dropping since 2006 (down from 2043 in 2003 to 1981 now, for Ecology).

Sue Silver reports on Frontiers: launched in February 2003 after 3.5 years of planning. E-View began in August 2007, in part to address the issue of a growing backlog (which continues to grow). Audience and purposes: to help keep readers up-to-date through accessible, reader-friendly papers, encourage cross-disciplinary reading, serve as a platform for discussion of impacts, and provide a tangible link with members (it’s provided free to all members). Other goals are to help ESA reach out to federal scientists and decision makers, raise ESA’s profile among the interested public and internationally, and help to grow ESA membership.

About 200 manuscripts were received per year in 2007-2008. Staff have stopped soliciting papers, which may have dropped submissions a bit. Acceptance rate has dropped from 63% in the first year to 38% last year. It takes about 32 days from receipt to first decision. Almost 50% of authors are now international. There have been Special Issues each year since 2005 (two in 2007 and 2009).

Outreach: Sue has led workshops in China in 2007, 2008, and 2009, about how to publish papers in high-impact western journals. She participated in Allen Press “lunch and learn seminars” about how to publish responsibly (green), in Chicago, DC, and Lawrence, KS, and did presentations at the Council of Scientific Editors, and Society for Scholarly Publishers.

In the pipeline: Ecoliteracy (organized by EHRC Committee) is the next feature series to be scheduled to replace Fresh Perspectives in the journal. International reportage is another possible series under consideration. Online letters with a blog-style response option may be added. Online-only, themed special issues would be a way to reduce the backlog.

Concerns from the Editor include: the backlog of paper and letters, future funding, library cutbacks, open access, versioning between online and print (e.g., a pre-print in 2008, but paper version in 2009). Funding options include: marketing efforts to libraries, bundling with other ESA journals, seeking agency and NGO support for special issues, seeking corporate sponsorship, instituting page charges, and cost-cutting in terms of postage to students and overseas members. However 82% of student members surveyed read Frontiers in paper, 13% online; 56% prefer to get both online and print versions.

Financials: At current rate of use, the Publication Fund that has covered the gap between income and expenses for Frontiers will last about 5 years (projecting a $95,000 shortfall next year; it was $89,000 this year.

  • TIEE

The Board asked the Publications Committee to consider questions about how submissions have been handled to date, whether the current vision is appropriate if ESA were to take it on, and who the closest competitors are. The Committee’s recommendation is that we take the journal on for a year, making few changes in how it’s being handled, and use that time to address issues regarding the focus, growth and vision of TIEE. Total yearly cost is estimated at $25,730, and Editor D’Avanzo has about $10,000 remaining in support for the next issue.

There is no business plan at present, but it seems unlikely that the journal would ever generate significant income. Several ideas were discussed, including reducing costs, and publishing in the Bulletin. The Board conducted a straw vote about options for support of TIEE, and decided to postpone a final decision until the future of TIEE can be evaluated in the context of the long-range planning process (that will be reported on in August).

  • Certification Appeal

A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board accepts the recommendation of the Professional Ethics and Appeals Committee concerning an appeal of a decision by the Board of Professional Certification. The Board will ask the Board of Professional Certification to clarify the potentially ambiguous language that was identified in the wording of requirements for certification by the Professional Ethics and Appeals Committee.

  • Awards Recommendations

A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board accepts the recommendations of the Awards Committee for awards to be presented at the 2009 annual meeting.

  • Corporate Award

A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board approves changing the Corporate Award from an annual to an occasional award.

  • AAAS Human Rights Coalition (McCarter)

ESA is now an affiliated organization of the coalition but has not yet decided to join as a full voting member.

  • Ecology Education Summit (Mourad)

This idea pre-dates Teresa’s arrival at ESA; it is one of the three major strategic initiatives in the EHRC strategic plan presented to the Board three years ago. A conference is being planned for fall of 2010 to consider issue such as:
What are best practices in ecology education? What ecological principles should one know to be ecologically literate? What should ecological education look like in the future? The conference would be for three days, with perhaps about 200 attendees. A planning committee has been formed (Meg Lowman – chair, Carol Brewer, Chris Beck, Wendy Gram, John Moore, Teresa Mourad (staff), D. C. Randle, Paul Risser, and Sonia Ortega. NSF has indicated that they might provide financial support.

A Board member pointed out that the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences(AESS) was founded in 2008 and should be contacted.

Friday 22 May

8:00 AM Executive session. Jackson and Lowman absent.

The Board urges the Awards Committee to send its request for nominations via e-mail to each member, in addition to publishing the call for nominations in the Bulletin.

III. Discussion/Action Items (continued)

  • Economic Growth Statement (Huenneke/Lymn; Piper Corp joined the meeting)

A group of ESA members has urged the Board for the past few years to join the other scientific societies that have issued statements about economic growth. We should both decide whether the Board should issue a statement (in the face of some disagreements among Board members about the content of such a statement), and make clear to the membership the process that the Board adopted in soliciting a draft statement from the Public Affairs Committee. 59 ESA members responded to the call for feedback on the draft statement; 47% expressed support for the statement, 24% objected to it, and 29% provided suggestions without expressing support or objection.

A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: There is consensus that the Board should adopt a statement on economic growth, that the draft statement is an excellent start, but that there are still some concerns that should be addressed in a revision.

Board members identified several places in the draft statement where they would like to add emphasis, clarify points, delete sentences, or insert additional material. A Board member volunteered to make a first pass at incorporating these suggestions before a new draft is circulated to the Board and then to Nadine Lymn and Piper Corp for final polishing in about two weeks. 
Kinzig departs.

  • Annual Meeting Issues

The $5 per registrant for the Annual Meeting for environmental offsets will probably generate about $16,000 this year. The Local Host Committee originally recommended three organizations for the half of this amount that is designated for local programs: Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust, NM Solar Energy Association education and outreach projects, and Green Energy New Mexico, to purchase renewable energy credits. After discovering that the other half of the amount will go to purchase of carbon offsets (Bonneville Environmental Foundation), the chair of the local committee has recommended dropping Green Energy New Mexico from choices for local funding. 
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board supports the choice of Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust and NM Solar Energy Association to receive funding from the environmental offset fund from the annual meeting.

The Meetings Committee Co-Chairs (Kiyoko Miyanishi and Lou Gross) have presented a proposal to increase the Annual Meeting Environmental Offset Allocation, given that on-line offset calculators suggest that a more appropriate amount would be closer to $35 to registrant. 
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board supports the idea of making it easier for registrants to increase voluntary contribution to environmental offsets, but will leave the built-in contribution at $5 for the coming year.

A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board supports the recommendation from the Meetings Committee to approve Mitch Cruzan and Todd Rosenstiel (Department of Biology, Portland State University) as Co-Local Hosts of the 2012 Annual Meeting in Portland, OR.

We are still trying to recruit a Program Chair for the 2011 Annual Meeting. Ideas were discussed for how to make the job more attractive, such as a contribution to a research fund to hire a part-time student assistant, or preference in a future symposium proposal. The Meetings Committee is asked to suggest incentives at their next meeting.

  • Millennium Conference Series ((McCarter)

Planning is going smoothly for the upcoming conference. Eleven case studies have been chosen for presentation. Many of the invited speakers are now confirmed and some poster proposals have been submitted (deadline is 28 May). It has been more difficult than expected to raise funding, particularly from federal agencies (whose budgets have been uncertain until recently). A proposal to support speaker travel is pending at NSF. A proposal will be brought by the staff to the Board in August with suggestions for the planning and funding of future meetings in the series.

  • Presidential Centennial Committee (Christensen)

Baltimore is now set as the venue for the 2015 meeting. A variety of ESA committees need to be involved, including Meetings, Historical Records, Program, Publications, and the Governing Board (perhaps President-Elect and Past-President); the committees have been asked to put this item on their agendas for the upcoming Annual Meeting. There is support for asking Alan Covich and Bob Peet to take lead roles.

  • ESA Nominations (Christensen)

The slate of nominees is almost complete, and will be announced in the Bulletin in July.

A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board supports the choices of the Nominating Committee for the open Board positions.

President-Elect: Steward Pickett and Dennis Ojima
Vice-President for Science: Deborah Peters and Tony Janetos
Secretary: Charles Canham and Jim Raich
Members at Large (2): Lisa Graumlich, John Foley, Andrea Lloyd, and Robert “Buck” Sanford
Board of Professional Certification (2): Steve Archer, Judi Durda, Douglas Halford, and Steven Handel

  • Establishment of Sections & Chapters

The Board reviewed the process for establishing new Sections (now 23 of them) and Chapters (now 6), and decides it will ask the Council to consider changing the current requirement that “Any group of ten or more members of the Society may petition for the establishment of a Section or Chapter..” to require 100 or more members to petition.

  • New Business

Teresa Mourad announced that the Education program will meet with some corporate members on Wednesday at the Annual Meeting, and Board members will be invited to join the discussion.

11:30 AM – meeting adjourned.

Submitted by David W. Inouye, Secretary