November 7-8, 2013

Minutes of the ESA Governing Board,
November 7-8, 2013
Washington, DC

Members Present
ill Baron                     President
Scott Collins               Past-President
David Inouye              President-Elect
Leslie Real                  VP for Finance
Sharon Collinge          VP for Public Affairs
Valerie Eviner             VP for Science
Charles Canham          Secretary
Michelle Mack            Member at Large

Staff Present
Katherine McCarter    Executive Director
Elizabeth Biggs           Chief Financial Officer
Cliff Duke                   Director, Science
Michelle Horton          Director, Administration and Meetings
Teresa Mourad            Director, Education and Diversity
David Baldwin           Managing Editor
Sue Silver                    Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers 

Kika Tarsi                    Chair, Student Section

Members Absent
Julie Reynolds             VP for Education and Human Resources
Carmen Cid                 Member at Large
Stephen Jackson          Member at Large

9:00 am, November 7, 2013:  meeting called to order by President Jill Baron


I. Agenda and Approval of Minutes

A. Adopt Agenda

Sharon Collinge moved and Les Real seconded adopting the agenda.  All aye.

B. Approval of the Minutes of the August 2013 Governing Board Meetings.

Scott Collins moved and Sharon Collinge seconded approval of the August 2013 minutes.   All aye.

II. Reports 

A. Report of the President

Jill Baron reported on activities related to the Earth Stewardship Initiative, including the project entitled “Integrating Ecological Science into Landscape and Urban Design” to be conducted during the 2014 meetings in Sacramento.  There is also continued effort on strengthening ties to the business community.   The issue of automatically signing members up for section membership will be discussed at the May meeting.

B. Report of the Executive Director and Staff

Katherine McCarter summarized the report from the Executive Director and staff, and reminded the Board of the scheduled conference call with the newly appointed Editor-in-Chief of the ESC/ESA journal.  Long-range planning grant proposals have been received.  Guidelines for the grants were revised at the August meeting, and far fewer proposals were submitted than in the past.  The search for a new Director of Public Affairs is underway.

Michelle Horton gave an update on the past Minneapolis meeting and the upcoming Sacramento meeting.  She also reported that there is a new online process for applying for status as a Certified Ecologist.  Membership renewal efforts are underway.  An ad hoc committee has been meeting regularly to devise ways to increase renewal rates.   This stimulated a lot of discussion of the challenges and opportunities for increasing overall membership.

David Baldwin summarized the report from the Publication Office.  One highlight was that Ecosphere has been accepted for inclusion in Web of Science.

Teresa Mourad reported on the SEEDS evaluation process that is underway.  She also summarized efforts to connect with faculty at minority-serving institutions.

Elizabeth Biggs reported that the auditors completed their site visit recently, and that the Audit Committee should be receiving the report soon.

C. Financial Updates

1. First Quarter Financials

Katherine McCarter and Elizabeth Biggs reviewed first quarter financials.  First quarter FY 2014 revenue was below first quarter FY 2013 because the revenue from the Minneapolis meeting was below revenue from the Portland meeting.  Membership dues and subscription income have declined in the past year, but year-end expenses and revenues are still expected to be close to budgeted.

2. Investment Updates

Les Real summarized performance of the Society’s investment portfolio.  There was discussion of the process of reviewing the investment policy, including the challenges of socially responsible investing.  There was a suggestion that there should be a regularly scheduled review of the investment policy, timed with the election of new Vice Presidents for Finance.

III. Discussion/Action Items

A. New Disease Ecology Section

Katherine McCarter summarized a proposal submitted by Jason Rohr for formation of a Disease Ecology section.  Staff have confirmed that the petition contains the required signatures of 50 ESA members.  The proposal included draft bylaws.  Scott Collins moved and David Inouye seconded a motion to recommend to the Council the formation of the Disease Ecology section.  All aye.

The recommendation will be sent to Council members for an e-mail vote.

B. Conversation with EiC of Joint ESA/ESC Journal (Dr. Yonglong Lu, EiC and Jing Duan, ESC.)

There was a conference call with Dr. Yonglong Lu, the newly appointed Editor-in-Chief of the joint ESA/ESC journal.  He summarized his vision and goals for the new journal, which will focus on “applying principles and concepts of ecology to support sustainable development, especially in regions undergoing rapid human change”.

C. Dryad Payment Plans

Dryad instituted charges for archiving data in September, 2013.  Ecological Monographs requires authors to deposit their data in Dryad prior to publication, and the Editorial Board of Ecological Applications voted at its August 2013 meeting to do the same with that journal.  David Baldwin summarized options for payments, ranging from requiring individual authors to handle the payments without involvement of the Publication Office, to a subscription plan whereby the Society pays a flat annual fee per journal based on the total number of papers published by the journal in a year.  Under the subscription plan entered into for Monographs, the Publications Office proposes to charge authors a $50 fee to cover costs of the subscription and the overhead associated with administering the program.  The publication office has paid a subscription fee for the next two years to cover the existing archiving requirement with Monographs.

There was considerable discussion of issues related to data archiving in general and ways to cover the costs with Dryad in particular for the other ESA journals.  Some authors will either already have their data archived under a different system, or will chose one of the alternative data portals, and no conclusion was reached on the appropriateness of charging a flat fee of all authors to cover a Dryad subscription for ESA’s other journals.  The Board agreed that Ecological Applications would mandate data deposits starting in January 2014. They decided that ESA will not enter into a Dryad subscription plan for Ecological Applications and that authors will be free to deposit their data in any repository of their choice,

D. Program Review – Science Programs

VP for Science Valerie Eviner introduced the program review for the science program.  Cliff Duke reviewed the history, goals and functioning of the Science program.  The Science Office depends heavily on outside funding for both a portion of staff salaries and other program expenses.  The board books contained details of specific program activities.  Cliff described several programs in detail, including the ongoing vegetation classification work and a June 2013 workshop on scaling up population and community ecology to continental scale for early career scientists.  The Science Program organizes periodic Emerging Issues conferences.  The next topic will be on “Integrated Landscape Science for Agriculture, Biodiversity Conservation, and Poverty Alleviation”, pending successful fundraising.  The office also coordinates the Issues In Ecology series.  Eighteen issues have been published to date, and several more are currently in progress.

Topics considered for future directions in the Science Office include (1) environmental change and natural disasters, (2) management responses to environmental change, (3) ecosystem services monitoring, and (4) linking science, policy and management to tackle ecological challenges.  Activities are being planned in each of these areas in conjunction with the 2014 Annual Meeting in Sacramento.

E. Editor-in-Chief Reviews

The Publications Committee submitted reviews of two Editors-in-Chief, and a request from Aaron Ellison, Editor-in-Chief of Ecological Monographs.   The reviews of both Dave Schimel and Deb Peters were overwhelmingly positive.  David Inouye moved and Charles Canham seconded a motion to appoint both Dave Schimel and Deb Peters to new 3-year terms effective January 1, 2014.  All aye.

The Governing Board expressed its deep appreciation for all of their efforts on behalf of the Society.  The Board also expressed its thanks to the Publications Committee and the editorial board members who contributed to the reviews.

David Inouye moved and Scott Collins seconded a motion to approve Aaron Ellison’s request to extend his current term as Editor-in-Chief of Monographs by 1 year (to December 31, 2015).  All aye.

The governing board will ask the Publications Committee to submit nominations for the new Editor-in-Chief by December 31, 2014, so that a new editor can be chosen before Aaron completes his term.

F. Mid Term Program Review – Publications

David Baldwin kicked-off the mid-term program review of the publications program.  Acceptance rates across the journals are back up to pre-2011 levels after the low rates of 2012.  Ecosphere has been approved by Thompson-Reuters for inclusion in Web of Science.  Ads are now included with Issue Alerts, providing a modest new source of potential revenue.   He reviewed goals and needs in the next few years, including implementation of the new ESA/ESC journal, and a new production module to replace outdated DOS-based software.  Concerns include erosion of subscriptions, impacts of data and open access mandates, and how to pay for innovations.

Sue Silver provided the mid-term review for Frontiers.  The number of manuscripts received by the journal continues to increase, necessitating a continuing decline in acceptance rate (to ~ 12% currently).  There have been 3 recent special issues, including an online-only issue on fire ecology. The journal is now in its 11th year.   She reviewed data from a number of sources assessing the impact and use of the journal, and the nature of both the authors and audience for the journal.  She described the use of a new system  – altmetrics – for assessing the social media buzz associated with individual publications.

G. Board Fundraising Update

Charles Canham provided an update on the effort to involve GB members in personalizing appeals for support of the Fund for the Future.   The personalized e-mails will be sent to lists of individuals identified by each GB member once the overall appeal letters have gone out from Katherine McCarter.   David Inouye will approach a contact in the University of Maryland development office about meeting with select staff and board members to get advice on development strategies.

H. Board Strategic Funds

Julie Reynolds and Teresa Mourad submitted a budget to support fundraising efforts related to SEEDS.  The Governing Board at the August 2013 meeting approved use of the funds for this purpose.  The Board would like to make sure that these efforts are coordinated with Society-wide development efforts and also requested more detail about the proposed plan.

I. National Park Service Science Sites

Jill Baron described an effort by the National Park Service and other organizations to identify and protect sites of important scientific discoveries.  ESA has been asked to participate in the nomination process for identifying sites once criteria are developed.

New Business

David Inouye suggested including information on meeting registration badges that recognizes how long individuals have been members of the Society.

Meeting adjourned at 5:15 pm, Thursday, November 7

Meeting called to order 11:15 am, Friday, November 8

III. Discussion and Action Items (Continued)

 J. Student Section Requests

Kika Tarsi, Chair of the Student Section, presented three proposals related to section and membership and funding: (1) automatic membership in the Student Section, (2) providing stable annual funding for the section, and (3) routine Section budget updates.  Over the past 10 years Section membership has ranged from 14-24% of student members.  The issue of folding a section membership in overall society membership (for all members) will be considered at the May 2014 Governing Board meeting.  This would still leave open the question of whether all student members were automatically enrolled in the Student Section.  Elizabeth Biggs pointed out that she provides budget details on demand whenever Section Chairs request it, and that the Society used to provide these details on a routine schedule but that Section Chairs still routinely asked for updates at other times.

The Governing Board strongly supports the recent initiatives of the Student Section.  A variety of proposals were advanced to provide funding for those activities.

Charles Canham moved and Sharon Collinge seconded a motion to recommend to the Council  increasing the Student Membership by $2, with the additional funding dedicated to Student Section activities.  All aye.


Meeting Adjourned at 12:00.