November 4, 2010

ESA Governing Board
November 04, 2010
Washington, DC

Members Present
Terry Chapin               President
Steward Pickett          President-Elect
Laura Huenneke          VP for Public Affairs
Rob Jackson                VP for Science
Bill Parton                   VP for Finance
Meg Lowman              VP for Education and Human Resources
Charles Canham          Secretary
Andrea Lloyd             Member-at-Large
Josh Schimel               Member-at-Large

Members Absent:  Lisa Graumlich (Member-at-Large), Mary Power (Past President)

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

Thursday, November 4, 2010.  9:00 meeting was called to order.

I. Agenda, Minutes, and Ratification of Votes
Josh Schimel moved and Laura Huenneke seconded a motion to ratify the vote for nominations for Vice President for Science.  The vote was ratified unanimously. 

Steward Pickett moved and Laura Huenneke seconded a motion to approve the minutes as amended.  The motion passed unanimously.

II. Reports

A.  Report of the President, Terry Chapin

Terry Chapin and Cliff Duke reviewed efforts to involve early career scientists in NEON.  Meg Lowman explained some of the history of ESA’s involvement in encouraging participation of small schools and underrepresented groups in NEON, and the potential need for additional ESA staff support for this effort.

Terry also reviewed efforts related to the Earth Stewardship initiative at next year’s annual meeting. Zoe Cardon is organizing a music event related to this theme, and the student section is planning another bioblitz. He also outlined activities of the Sections related to the initiative.  A large number of the Sections have been involved.  He summarized two meetings on Nov. 3, 2010 with members of social science groups and religious organizations.  The meetings were to inform the groups of the goals of the initiative, and to find out whether they have related efforts.  There was discussion of the formation of an informal coalition, with activities that might involve proposals to fund participation by outside speakers at meetings of the different groups.  One discovery was that the language of stewardship and sustainability can vary significantly, particularly among the religious groups.

Finally, he reviewed planned presentations on stewardship at upcoming meetings, including AGU.

B. Reports of the Executive Director and Staff

Katherine welcomed new members of the Board.  She requested that all board members sign and return conflict of interest forms and distributed board orientation books to all members.  Meg Lowman noted that the COI forms should be available for review by all board members.

Katherine noted that the Policy Section is now an official section, and announced that the Society launched its Planned Giving website in the past week.  The site contains much useful information related to planned giving in general.

David Baldwin summarized highlights from the Publication Office report.  Submission rates to Ecosphere have been high, and acceptance rates have been low.  Several new manuscripts (since the rollout in August) have already been published.  The print journals have been on schedule.  More detail will follow during the mid-term review this afternoon.

Cliff Duke reviewed Science Office activities.  He described an upcoming Emerging Issues conference on “Developing Ecologically-based Conservation Targets under Global Change.”   At the end of this month, the Office will be holding a workshop on the NSF-funded project on the sustainability of biological infrastructure (databases, field stations, etc.). 

Nadine Lymn’s report from the Public Affairs Office highlighted interest in the Society’s blog Ecotone, which offers fresh posts nearly daily.  Maintaining this has required a significant allocation of staff time.  A preprint of an Ecological Monographs paper on mountain pine beetle and fire risk attracted a great deal of public interest.  A Frontiers paper on bat mortality and wind turbines also attracted considerable media interest.  She also reported on an ESA-sponsored field trip to the Baltimore LTER study, and noted that work continues on the Policy Handbook. 

Teresa Mourad reviewed efforts related to the upcoming NEON education workshop. She also reported that the Packard Foundation has provided another grant of $150,000 for efforts in the western US.  

Elizabeth Biggs reviewed statistics on membership and subscriptions.  Both have continued to decline slightly, but these have been factored into budgets.  Institutional subscriptions to Ecology have been the most important source of revenue to the Society in the past, and this funding stream has been slowly declining.  This is a significant challenge going forward.  The decline has been happening over a number of years, not just since 2008.   David Baldwin noted that the decline has been relatively small, and Katherine noted that this is due, in part, to efforts to add new subscribers, particularly in other countries. 

Sue Silver gave a report on Frontiers. The publication backlog is gone, and publication times are on target. She noted that authors seem keen to use Frontiers as an outlet for research with clear policy implications. 

C. Financial Updates

Katherine reviewed the first quarter financial report.  There was discussion of the size of the membership and overall program.  Bill Parton reported on investments.  Recent gains in the stock market have helped the endowment, while the reserve funds (unrestricted net assets) are in revolving fixed-income instruments (primarily CDs).

III. Discussion/Action Items

A.  Earth Stewardship Updates

Steward Picket distributed an update on the Earth Stewardship initiative.  Current efforts have focused on outreach to social, economic and political sciences, with a goal to get them involved in participating in the 2011 annual meeting.  Steward’s efforts next year will focus on dialog, outreach and engagement with the planning and design professions.  The initiative will focus on the science of stewardship – including the social contexts that influence how that science is implemented.  There was an open discussion of how to make the initiative successful, including identifying important partners, and changing the academic culture to better support the development of science needed for effective stewardship.  There was also discussion of ways that current activities of the Society could be adapted to promote the initiative.

B. Education Issues

1.  Meg provided a report on the Women and Minorities in Ecology (WAMIE) survey of ESA members.  The response rate was reasonable (~ 15%), but the respondents were overwhelmingly female.  Additional analyses and/or additional survey efforts are being considered.

2.  Teresa reported on the Ecology Education Summit held last month.  Over 200 participants attended.  Action items that came out of the summit included (1) creating a foundation for common environmental literacy principles and concepts, (2) a comprehensive green schools program, (3) activities to harness technology for a green society, and (4) an inventory of environmental literacy standards in different states, and (5) developing new language and purpose including connecting to jobs, health, and security to ensure environmental literacy for all.

Teresa and Meg profusely thanked the Governing Board for their support of the Education Summit, because the event was truly ground-breaking and exceeded the expectations of the Society and the participants.

C. Program Review – Science

Cliff Duke and Rob Jackson presented the mid-term review of the Science Office.  Cliff began by reviewing the history of the establishment of the office – dating to the Sustainable Biosphere Initiative in 1991.  In 1997 it was formally designated the Science Programs Office.  Its structure and mission are defined in the Society’s by-laws. 

Current projects fall into 3 categories: (1) advancing ecological science, (2) ecology for community (to link the ecological research and management communities), and (3) solutions for sustainability.

Projects focused on advancing ecological science include the new Emerging Issues conferences (formerly called the Millennium Conference).  The next conference will be in 2012, with the topic “Developing Ecologically-Based Conservation Targets Under Global Change”.  A special feature issue in Frontiers is being planned in conjunction with the conference.

The ESA Panel on Vegetation is a permanent standing committee that began work in 1995.  It has been very active in recent years in developing national vegetation classification standards and supporting databases like VegBank.

Cliff reviewed 3 projects under the “ecology for community” program area:
1. The 2008 biofuels conference and related activities.  A number of products from the conference are in progress.   
2. The Issues in Ecology publication series.  There have been 13 issues to date.  The most recent was “A Synthesis of the Science on Forests and Carbon for U.S. Forests”. 
3. A workshop on strategies for sustainability of biological infrastructure to be held this year.

There was discussion of reasons for the success of the Office in attracting external funding.  The credibility and reputation of the Society were considered significant factors.

Rob Jackson gave an overview of future directions for the Office.  First on his list of general goals was a focus on ESA-initiated, longer-term projects.  Sustainability has been a theme in the Society for decades, and finding opportunities for new support and activities in this area should be a priority.  Linkages between the Science Office and other programs within ESA (particularly Public Affairs) are also a priority.  Finally, Rob and Cliff would like to see the Science Office play a stronger role in international outreach.

Specific examples of new initiatives that address these priorities include the Emerging Issues conferences, a planned workshop on the science of vegetation change and classification, and a project under development to measure the contributions of ecoinformatics to environmental protection. 

Rob reviewed future activities related to the 2011 and 2012 annual meetings.  Josh Schimel suggested a focus on ecological dimensions of national security.  Rob and Cliff pointed out a number of current topics that are related to this (biofuels, warfare ecology, etc.)

The final section of the discussion focused on activities related to the 2015 Centennial and the Earth Stewardship initiative. Rob suggested starting with a retrospective analysis, beginning with an analysis of the Sustainable Biosphere Initiative of the early 1990’s.  Another opportunity would be to generate case studies of how ESA has influenced science and policy in its first 100 years.

Rob then presented a series of forward-looking activities.  He outlined several proposals, including:

  1. Crafting a document envisioning where ecological science should go in its second century,
  2. Hosting a small workshop to more clearly define the Earth Stewardship initiative
  3. Generate a set of future scenarios
    1. Based in part on IPCC stabilization scenarios
    2. Including different ecosystem services, and
    3. Influencing what a world with proper stewardship would look like in 2050 or 2100.
    4. Recognizing the importance of urbanization
  4. Developing new metrics for stewardship (status and trends in resources)
  5. Improving teaching of and academic support for stewardship science
  6. Identifying the funding opportunities for these activities

D. Mid-term Program Report of the Publications Office

Sue Silver reviewed trends in submissions and acceptance rates at Frontiers.  The fairly long backlog of recent years between acceptance and appearance in print has been resolved, partly as a result of a high rejection rate (including a very high rate of rejection without review).  This has been credited with slowing the rate of increase in submissions.  The timelag between acceptance and appearance in print is currently on target.  There is hope that the acceptance rate can be allowed to increase.

She reviewed new developments at the journal, including: (a) the introduction of page charges, and (b) a new back page columnist.  A number of special issues are being considered, and a large biogeochemistry special feature will be published in early 2011. 

Elizabeth Biggs summarized the long-term financial planning and budgets for Frontiers.  There has been a long-term plan for the ESA contribution to increase over time.  Institutional subscriptions remain the largest single source of revenue, and are increasing, although not as rapidly as hoped in long-term planning. The publication of two externally funded special issues a year would make them the second largest source of revenue.  The shortfall between revenue and expenses is currently covered by draws on the Publication Fund, but the shortfall has been falling over time, and there is hope to have revenue exceed expenses by FY 2013.

David Baldwin gave the report from the Publications Office.  He began with a list of recent innovations and accomplishments.  Issues are on schedule, and the publication backlog at Ecology has “nearly evaporated”.  There has been a strong growth in use of Ecological Archives.  Data papers have also become a consistent feature of Ecology.  There are a number of new features in the Bulletin.  David summarized statistics on submissions to EcologyEcological Applications, and Ecological Monographs (up ~ 5% from last year).  Acceptance rates have ranged from 16% at Ecology to ~ 25% at Applications and Monographs.  Rates of rejection without review remain high.  Impact factors have declined slightly.  149 papers have been submitted to Ecosphere since August, with an acceptance rate of 14%.

Plans for the coming year include implementation of data archiving (if approved by the Governing Board), and automation of keywords for manuscripts.

Concerns include (a) declines in impact factors, (b) declining subscriptions, (c) staffing needs for data archiving, and (d) confusion about the distinction between Ecosphere and the other journals. 

The bulk of the subsequent discussion focused on the distinctions between Ecosphere and the print journals.  David distributed a draft of a new table that will be posted on the website, describing the differences between the various ESA journals.

E. Awards Committee Requests

The Awards Committee has requested several changes to the awards process.  These include a conflict of interest provision, and issues related to funding for travel by award recipients.  Some of the awards have endowments that specify support for travel.

The Board approved the recommended process for avoiding potential conflicts of interest involving members of award subcommittees.

Josh Schimel moved and Andrea Lloyd seconded a motion to increase the travel support from $700 to $800.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Josh Schimel also moved and Rob Jackson seconded a motion that the travel support be offered, but recipients can choose to decline.  The motion passed unanimously.

Rob Jackson moved and Laura Huenneke seconded a motion that all members of the Awards subcommittees must be members of the ESA.  The motion passed unanimously.

There was discussion of the proposal to increase the frequency of the MacArthur award to annually (rather than biennially).  This has implications for the scheduling of keynote speakers at the annual meeting.  There was support for increasing the frequency of the award, but the issue was tabled to allow time for input from the Meetings Committee. 

The request for an increase in the number of honorary members was tabled, and returned to the Awards Committee with a request for further justification of the request to increase the maximum number of honorary members from 20 to 30.  It was noted that there is no endowment for this award, and that it is relatively expensive (all travel expenses, and a lifetime subscription to ESA journals), and that apparently, according to the ESA History Page, not all 20 slots are currently filled.

Meg Lowman moved and Josh Schimel seconded a motion that Section and Chapter awards be recognized during the Awards ceremony with a single slide listing all winners of Section and Chapter awards.  The motion passed unanimously.

F. Diversity Award

The Education and Human Resources Committee forwarded a request that the Diversity Award given by that Committee be acknowledged at the Society-wide awards ceremony.

Josh Schimel moved and Andrea Lloyd seconded that this award be recognized briefly (as with the Section awards) at the general Awards Ceremony, but that the presentation of the award continue to be done at the Diversity Luncheon.  The motion passed unanimously. 

G. Membership Survey

Katherine reported on the planned survey of ESA members.  

Meeting adjourned at 5:19 pm, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010

Friday, November 05, 2010

Meeting Reconvened

8:30 am  Executive Session

Governing Board Members Present:
Terry Chapin, Josh Schimel, Steward Pickett, Charlie Canham, Rob Jackson, Bill Parton, Andrea Lloyd, and  Laura Huenneke (until 9:30 am)

9:00 AM
Staff joined the meeting:
Sue Silver, Nadine Lymn, David Baldwin, Katherine McCarter, Cliff Duke, Elizabeth Biggs

III. Discussion/Action Items (continued)

H. Dryad

David Baldwin summarized the discussion from the August Board meeting.  The technology and process for implementing a requirement for data deposition does not appear to be a significant hurdle, but there are concerns about both cost and whether the requirement will steer some authors away from Society journals.  Discussion focused on a proposal from the August Board meeting that participation in Dryad be tested for a year, and just in Ecological Monographs.  

Rob Jackson moved and Andrea Lloyd seconded that the Board approve participation in Dryad by Ecological Monographs for a year, under Cost Plan A, and ask Editor-in-Chief Aaron Ellison to report back to the full Board in one year.

The Board will also ask the Publications Committee to address the broader issue of criteria that would qualify as an acceptable data archive, and lists of approved existing data archives.  The issue of the relation between Dryad and Ecological Archives needs to be considered. 

I. 2012 Annual Meeting Theme

Brian McCarthy, program chair for the 2012 Annual Meeting, has recommended the theme “Life on Earth: Preserving, Utilizing, and Sustaining our Ecosystems”.  A description of the theme was included in the board book.   Andrea Lloyd moved and Steward Pickett seconded a motion to approve the meeting theme.  The motion passed unanimously.

J. Historical Records / Centennial Committee Requests

The Historical Records Committee (HRC) has requested a multi-year grant of funds for a series of activities related to the ESA Archives and the Centennial in 2015.   Part of the request is to fund a joint meeting of the HRC and Centennial Committee in Athens, GA to discuss the status and future of the ESA Archives maintained at the University of Georgia.  They are also requesting a significant amount of staff time to work on these projects.

Rob Jackson suggested exploring funding sources that might support the Centennial and analyses of the history of the Society.

The largest component of the request was for 10 small grants of $5000 each to support use of the archives by historians. The general goal of this request was viewed positively, but the amount was problematic.

Josh Schimel moved and Andrea Lloyd seconded that we approve funding for the meeting in Athens and the first year of supplies (a total of $4500).  The motion passed unanimously. 

The Board also encourages the Committees to work with ESA staff to develop proposals to fund the activities (including potentially the requested small-grant program). 

K.  Centennial Committee

Alan Covich, Chair of the Centennial Committee, submitted a report that outlines planning for ESA’s Centennial in 2015.   A key request was for input on the appointment of the full committee, and funding for a meeting of the committee during the current fiscal year.   There was discussion about the potential make-up of the committee, and the need to balance retrospective and forward-looking perspectives.

Terry Chapin solicited input from the Board on both the make-up of the committee and potential names.  He will confer with Alan Covich and appoint the members of the committee.  He will also confer with Katherine McCarter and Charles Canham on a draft of the charge for the committee. Once the committee is named, the Board encourages it to hold a conference call meeting to organize and to meet face to face at the annual meeting in 2011.

L. EiC Review – Dave Schimel

The Board received a very positive report from the committee appointed to review Ecological Applications Editor-in-Chief Dave Schimel.  The continued growth in the workload at all of the journals led to discussion of ways to share the editing duties, potentially making greater use of Associate Editors or Assigning Editors.  Rob Jackson moved and Terry Chapin seconded a motion to re-appoint Dave Schimel to a new 3-year term as Editor-in-Chief for the period from January 2011 to December 2013.

M. EiC Review – Ed Johnson

The Publications Committee was unable to complete reviews of all of the Editors-in-Chief in time for action by the Board.  Ed Johnson was re-appointed EiC of the Bulletin for a year to allow a formal review next year.  The Board recognized Ed’s strong commitment and contributions to the Bulletin.

N.  EiC Review – Jill Baron

The Board received a report from the Publications Committee that both reviewed Editor-in-Chief Jill Barron and summarized the history, current status, and recommendations for the Issues in Ecology series. There are a number of challenges, including securing funding for each issue.  There was an almost 6 year hiatus in the publication series, but a new Issue has just been published, 4 more are in development, and others are in discussion.

The Board is very pleased with Jill’s efforts and leadership with Issues. EiC Baron’s first 3-year term (January 2007 – December 2009) was extended last year for 1 year.  Rob Jackson moved and Andrea Lloyd seconded a motion to appoint Jill Baron Editor-in-Chief of Issues in Ecology for the remaining two years of the current 3-year term (January 2011 – December 2012).

The Board would also like to continue discussion about the niche for Issues (particularly vis a vis Frontiers) at the board meeting in May 2011.

Meeting Adjourned at 11:50 am, Nov. 5, 2010