July 31 – August 1, 2010

ESA Governing Board
July 31 – August 1, 2010
Pittsburgh, PA


Members Present
Mary Power                President
Alison Power              Past-President
Terry Chapin               President-Elect
Laura Huenneke          VP for Public Affairs
Bill Parton                   VP for Finance
Rob Jackson                VP for Science
Meg Lowman              VP for Education and Human Resources (Sunday)
Debra Peters                Member-at-Large
Emily Stanley              Member-at-Large

Staff Present:
Katherine McCarter    Executive Director 
Cliff  Duke                  Director, Science 
Elizabeth Biggs           Director, Finance
Sue Silver                    Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers
Nadine Lymn              Director, Public Affairs
David Baldwin           Managing Editor
Teresa Mourad            Director, Education and Diversity

Charles Canham          Secretary-Elect
David Gooding           Publications Office
Rob Salgueero-Gomez                           Chair – Student Section
Don Strong                 Editor in Chief – Ecology  (Sunday)_
Frank Gilliam              Program Chair (Sunday)
Bill Michener              Dryad (Sunday)
Aaron Ellison              Associate Editor-in-Chief, Ecology and Ecological Monographs (Sunday)
Scott Collins               Chair, Publication Committee (Sunday)
Dave Schimel              Editor-in-Chief, Ecological Applications (Sunday)
Ed Johnson                 Editor, Bulletin  (Sunday)
Todd Vision                National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (Sunday)

Saturday, July 31 2010.  9:00 meeting is called to order.

I. Roll Call & Agenda

  • The Governing Board unanimously adopted the proposed agenda.
  • The electronic vote to approve the minutes of the May 2010 Governing Board meeting in Washington was unanimously ratified.
  • The electronic vote to approve the report of the Nominations Committee was unanimously ratified.

II. Reports

A.  Report of the President

Mary Power began with comments on her admiration for the staff and the board, and her pleasure in serving as President.   She described experience with stewardship of an 8,000 acre preserve in California.  She met Frank Lake, a steward at a preserve on the Klamath River, who told her that an article he published in the Bulletin had had a large impact on his career.  This suggests that we find a means to provide some form of peer-review for selected articles in the Bulletin.  Ed Johnson is interested in assisting.

B.  Report of the Executive Director and Staff

Katherine McCarter began with reminders of meetings during the week, and encouragement to consider a contribution to the Fund for the Future.  She then reviewed highlights of Society activities during the past year, including the launch of Ecosphere, the first Millennium Conference, and the society’s response to the Gulf oil spill.

Liz Biggs provided an update on Society finances, membership, and administration.  Finances for the year have been very close to budgeted, despite the difficult economic climate.  Attendance for the Pittsburgh meeting has been very good.  Library subscription revenue has been level – a very good sign given pressures on library budgets. Society membership is down slightly (5-10%), and she reviewed efforts to slow that trend.

Cliff Duke reported on activities in the Science Office. He called attention to activities related to last year’s Millennium Conference, including students from that conference who are attending this year’s meeting with support from the Conference budget.   The Vegetation Classification Panel received kudos for its continued hard work, in part with support from the US Forest Service.  He provided an update on an upcoming workshop on sustainability of biological infrastructure.

Teresa Mourad provided an update on the upcoming Ecology Education Summit in October.  Fundraising will be covered later in agenda.  The NEON Education initiative is going well, and a new K-12 program is off the ground in partnership with The Nature Conservancy.  An NSF proposal is moving forward in partnership with 3 other societies to support the Eco-Ed Digital library.  The SEEDS program continues to grow.  There was discussion of whether the program is overstretched.  Fundraising has been strong (30-50k/yr) but needs to be sustainable.   Mary Powers encouraged staff to develop relations with Howard Hughes Foundation

Sue Silver reviewed the status of Frontiers.  The publication backlog has been reduced dramatically – from 13 months to roughly 6 months.  As a result, acceptance rates have been allowed to rise slightly.  Page charges have been instituted to contribute to the financial support of the journal.  The journal ranking is currently in second place in environmental science and fourth in the Ecology categories of JCR.

David Baldwin reported on activities in the Publication Office.  The backlog at Ecology has been reduced, largely because of higher rejection rates, resulting in a roughly 5-6 month backlog.  The backlog at Applications is longer (roughly 8 months).  Innovations in the past year include (1) preprints available online (complete with doi) and (2) Aaron Ellison has instituted a new review category in Monographs.  The startup of the new journal Ecosphere is on schedule – a remarkable achievement given the short time involved.  David credited a strong effort from staff at Allen Press.  The first papers in the new journal have already been published.   

Submission rates to existing journals are up slightly over 2008 to ~ 2350 manuscripts a year.  Acceptance rates have leveled off at roughly 25% (14% at Monographs).   The Publication Office doesn’t anticipate any supplemental issues in 2010, but expect 2 in 2011.

Nadine Lymn reviewed the activities of the Public Affairs Office, beginning with media expected to attend the meeting in Pittsburgh, and those expected to cover the meeting remotely.  She will be blogging from the meeting, and encouraged Board members to contribute.  At the encouragement of President Mary Power and President Elect Terry Chapin, the office organized a workshop on getting engaged in local/regional issues.  Staff are preparing a Policy Handbook to assist members who want to be more engaged in policy issues.  There was considerable discussion of how to get regional sections more engaged in policy issues.

C.  Report of the Vice President for Finance

Bill Parton and Katherine McCarter reviewed 4th quarter financials.   Bill reviewed the status of endowment funds (close to $1M currently).  There was discussion of both the strength of the finances and the diligent efforts to rebuild the endowment and build the unrestricted fund.

D. Planetary Stewardship

Mary Power and Terry Chapin led a discussion of the Planetary Stewardship initiative.  There are a number of Society activities related to the initiative, involving both annual meetings and activities of sections.   Terry led a discussion of the psychology of climate change and human perceptions of risk.  Mary mentioned the importance of interfacing with communication efforts by Society staff.  Partnerships with other societies working on environmental change are also important.  Sections could play an important role in this, through their disciplinary ties to other societies.  There was discussion of tradeoffs between influencing management at a local scale versus influencing macro policy at the federal level.  There was also discussion of the impact of societal investments in physical infrastructure.   How can we be engaged at both local and national levels in decisions about the built environment (and its impacts on sustainability of ecosystems)?  Terry mentioned the potential impact of introducing ecological courses in the curricula for undergraduate students in K-12 education programs.   There is need to identify specific audiences for our messages, and to target audiences appropriately.    There was discussion of ways to expand the reach of Frontiers to resource managers (expanding the subscription base).


E.  Emerging Issues Conference

The topic of the next Emerging Issues Conference will be “Developing Ecologically-based Conservation Targets Under Global Change”.  There are regular conference calls involving conference organizers and ESA staff.  A preliminary budget is being prepared.  Fundraising efforts will begin this fall.    

F.  Ecology Education Summit

Teresa Mourad reviewed the status of pending proposals to support the 2010 Ecology and Education Summit.  The event will be held October 14-15, 2010 at the NEA headquarters in Washington.  One of the major goals of the summit is the formulation of a decadal plan for ecology education nationally.  The theme of the summit is “Environmental Literacy for a Sustainable World”.   Keynote speakers include Will Seeger (arctic explorer).

G.  EcoSummit 2012  

Mary Power gave an update on discussions with Bill Mitch about an ESA role as a co-sponsor of the 2012 EcoSummit.  There has not yet been a formal letter of commitment from ESA to serve as primary US host.  Cliff Duke will be the staff representative on the Scientific Planning Committee.  An academic representative will also be named.

III. Discussion and Action Items

A.  New Policy Section Proposal

Laura Huenneke reviewed the proposal to establish a Policy Section.  A Statement of Purpose, Bylaws, and a list of names from a petition in support of the new chapter were distributed in the Board packet.  Actual approval requires action of the Council, after a 60 day review period.  Alison Power moved and Laura Huenneke seconded a motion to recommend establishment of the new section.  The motion was approved unanimously.

B.  FY 2010-2011 ESA Budget  

1.  Approval of Budget (recommendation to Council)

Elizabeth Biggs and Katherine McCarter led a discussion of the budget presented to the Board at the May 2010 meeting.   Bill Parton moved and Rob Jackson seconded a motion to recommend approval of the budget to the Council meeting on Aug. 1, 2010.  The motion carried unanimously.

2.  Long Range Planning Grants

Each year the budget normally includes $10,000 for long-range planning grants.  Members at Large typically serve as a review committee for proposals from sections, chapters and committees to use these funds.  Alison Power moved and Emily Stanley seconded a motion to appoint the Members at Large as the review committee for the coming year.  That motion carried unanimously.  Mary Power then moved and Emily Stanley seconded a motion to make this appointment permanent.  That motion carried unanimously.

3.  Board Strategic Initiatives

The proposed FY 2010-2011 budget includes $10,000 for Board Strategic Initiatives.  The Board reviewed a list – generated during the May, 2010 meeting – of potential uses of those funds.  There was also discussion of a new proposal to use the funds for a member survey.  Governing Board should have input in the focus of the survey.    

Alison Power moved and Laura Huenneke seconded a motion that funds for travel by the President of the Mexican Ecological Society to the 2011 meeting in Austin be included in the budget for that meeting.

The Board also considered a request for support for a meeting by the Historical Records Committee, and will ask the committee for further information, with a recommendation that they apply for a Long Range Planning Grant.  The issue was tabled pending further discussion.

Laura Huenneke moved and Terry Chapin seconded a motion to approve use of Board Strategic Initiative Funds for a member survey, with details of the survey and the nature of the involvement of the Governing Board to be determined.  The motion carried unanimously.  Terry Chapin (volunteer) and Josh Schimel (recommended in absentia) were proposed as the Governing Board members to provide input to this process.

4.  Discussion of Council Presentation
There was a brief discussion of issues to be highlighted in the presentation of the budget to the full Council.  Issues included drawing attention to planning for the Centennial meeting in 2015.

C.  Board of Professional Certification Recommendations

The Board of Professional Certification has made five recommendations for changes to the certification process.  The 5 proposals were:

  • Require that all applicants for the Senior Ecologist certification level have a graduate degree
  • Require that all applicants be ESA members at the time of application
  • Require that all non-streamlined applications include a transcript (unofficial transcript accepted)
  • Establish a streamlined process for Recertification for applicants holding a Master’s degree who have been previously certified as a Senior Ecologist at least once.
  • Require that applicants clearly identify which courses fulfill the certification-required introduction to population, community and ecosystem areas of ecological inquiry for all coursework.

There was concern with the proposed requirement that applicants for Senior Ecologist have a graduate degree.  The board feels that extensive experience in the field is a reasonable way to achieve the desired comprehensive training required for Senior Ecologist certification.

There was also concern expressed about the requirement that all applicants be ESA members at the time of application.

The Governing Board would like additional information from the Board of Professional Certification about the first two proposals before voting on them.

Mary Power moved and Laura Huenneke seconded a motion that the Governing Board approves proposals #3, #4, and #5 above.  The motion carried unanimously.

D.  Membership Data

Elizabeth Biggs presented an analysis prepared by staff of trends in membership from 2003 -2009, broken down in various categories.   This led to a wide-ranging discussion of the causes and implications of the patterns, particularly in the membership trends within Sections.  The Student Section has shown particularly strong growth in recent years, and there was discussion encouraging more student participation in other sections. 

E.  Nominations / Underrepresented Groups

The difficulties faced this year in finding female applicants for ESA board positions prompted a discussion of efforts to attract under-represented groups to Board service.   There was a suggestion that this could be done by encouraging involvement in Society activities and committees at early stages in career development, including service on standing committees.  Another suggestion was to raise this issue at the SEEDS leadership meetings.  Yet another suggestion was to contact officers in Sections for nominations based on experience in Section leadership.

F.  Yearly Policy Priorities 

The Public Affairs Office, in consultation with the Public Affairs Committee, has submitted a set of recommended public policy priorities for the coming year.  These priorities are intended to guide the staff and Society, but they are not intended to preclude action on other items.  The policy priorities fall in 6 broad areas:  (1) Gulf of Mexico oil accident, (2) climate change and adaptation, (3) energy, (4) infrastructure impacts on ecosystems, (5) water quality and quantity, and (6) science education.

Laura Huenneke moved and Terry Chapin seconded a motion to approve the list of priorities.  The motion carried unanimously.


G. Carbon / Environmental Offsets

The Board reviewed the process for selecting organizations that receive contributions from the carbon/environmental offset funds.  Discussion focused on the balance of the split between local and national programs, and procedures for recommending specific programs to receive the funds.

Mary Power moved and Emily Stanley seconded a motion that all the funds be used for local programs recommended by the Local Host and Meeting Committee.  Their recommendations should highlight ways that the proposed recipients will offset environmental impacts specific to our location.  The motion passed unanimously.   

H.  EiC for Ecosphere (Executive Session with D. Strong and Staff)

A motion was made and seconded to appoint Debra Peters to a 3 year term as Editor-in-Chief of Ecosphere.

I.  New Business

There was discussion of a proposal that the President’s address to the Annual Meeting come at the beginning rather than the end of their term.  

Motion was made and seconded to appoint Rob Jackson to a 1-year term as Vice-President for Science from 2010 – 2011.   This appointment will fill the position being vacated by Debra Peters’ appointment to a term as Editor-in-Chief of Ecosphere until a new Vice-President for Science can be elected to fill out the remaining two years of the term.

J. 2010 Annual Meeting

Frank Gilliam gave an update on the 2010 meeting.   He began by acknowledging the efforts of ESA staff.  Abstract submission has been higher than last-year’s meeting in Albuquerque, and registration has also been strong.  A new feature this year is grouping posters into Organized Poster Sessions.

K.  Dryad

Bill Michener gave a presentation on Dryad, a repository for data associated with publications in the biological sciences.  Archiving of data in Dryad is designed to be implemented in conjunction with article publication, and potentially as a requirement for publication.  Under a proposed Joint Data Archiving Policy, authors may elect to embargo access to the data for a period up to a year after publication.   Dryad has three different subscription plans with different costs to the member journals (including one plan where all costs are borne by the authors).  The issue will be discussed further at the November 2010 Governing Board meeting.

L.  Ecosphere Update

David Baldwin gave an update on the launch of Ecosphere.  The launch took place on schedule, thanks to enormous effort by staff at both ESA and Allen Press.  The first article has already appeared online.  He emphasized the focus on rapid publication.  There was extensive discussion of ways to ensure this.

M. Publications Meetings

1.  Publications Committee

Scott Collins congratulated the staff and Governing Board for going from the idea for Ecosphere to the first published paper in essentially 1 year.   He also reviewed their interactions with Dryad over the past year. 

2.  Ecology

Don Strong reviewed efforts during the past year to bring down the publication backlog.  The efforts have been successful at reducing the backlog from over 1 year to less than 6 months. 

3.  Ecological Monographs

Aaron Ellison summarized trends in submissions at Monographs over the past year.  Paper lengths are up slightly, and reviews are now being published.   He emphasized the need to continue to prepare for transition to paperless publications.

4.  Ecological Applications

Dave Schimel noted that Applications has also faced the issues associated with very high submission rates.  He mentioned his desire to see more synthesis papers rather than sets of articles in special features.  He also noted significant expansion of particular subject areas, particularly in marine sciences.   Another area of rapid expansion has been the application of theory to the design of conservation systems.

5.  ESA Bulletin

Ed Johnson mentioned efforts to use the Bulletin to facilitate preparation for the Society’s Centennial in 2015.

6.  Frontiers in Ecology and Environment

Sue Silver reviewed highlights from the past year at Frontiers.  As with the other journals, there was a successful effort to reduce the publication backlog.  In contrast to the other journals, Frontiers is quite interested in appropriate special features.   One challenge has been the requirement that the contributors raise the funding for a special issue.  There was discussion of ongoing efforts to increase the number of library subscriptions to Frontiers.

Meeting adjourned at 11:35 am, August 1, 2010

Minutes respectfully submitted,
Charles D. Canham, Secretary