August 6-7, 2016

Minutes of the ESA Governing Board August 6-7, 2016 and August 12, 2016 Fort Lauderdale, FL

Members Present

Monica Turner – President
David Lodge – President-Elect
David Inouye – Past-President
Evan DeLucia – VP for Finance
Frank Davis – VP for Public Affairs
Valerie Eviner – VP for Science
Nalini Nadkarni – VP for Education and Human Resources
Charles Canham – Secretary
Kathryn Cottingham – Member at Large

Members Absent

Leah Gerber (Member at Large)
Ana-Elisa Perez Quintero (Member at Large)

Staff Present

Katherine McCarter – Executive Director
Elizabeth Biggs – Directory of Finance
Teresa Mourad – Director, Education and Diversity
Sue Silver – Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers
Alison Mize – Director, Public Affairs
Steve Sayre – Associate Director of Publications
Cliff Duke – Director, Science Office
Christi Nam – Convention and Meetings Manager


Winslow Hansen – Chair, Student Section
Sarah Supp – Chair, Early Career Ecologists Section
Jessica Gurevitch – Incoming Secretary, Governing Board
Emily Cloyd – Incoming Member at Large, Governing Board

Additional Visitors – Sunday

Debra Peters – Editor-in-Chief, Ecosphere
Ed Johnson – Editor-in-Chief, Bulletin
Don Strong – Editor-in-Chief, Ecology
Kiyoko Mianishi – Chair, Meetings Committee
Lee Frehlich – Program Chair
Aimee Classen – Editor-in-Chief, Ecological Monographs
Dave Schimel – Editor-in-Chief, Ecological Applications
Yonglong Lu – Editor-in-Chief, Ecosystem Health and Sustainability
Rich Pouyat – Incoming President-Elect

8:30 am, August 6, 2016, meeting called to order by President Monica Turner

I. Roll Call, Agenda, and Ratification of Votes

President Monica Turner called the meeting to order. The agenda was approved, all aye, and minutes of the May 2016 meeting were approved, all aye. The board also ratified the e-mail vote to approve the recommendation that the environmental offsets for the 2016 meeting be awarded to the Archbold Biological Station. All aye.

II. Reports

A. Report of the President

Monica Turner thanked staff for all of their help with her work during the year, and then provided an update on implementation of recommendations from the May 2016 strategic planning process. The most general goals focus on enhancing membership services, including hiring a new staff member dedicated to membership services. Specific goals included developing a comprehensive communications strategy, improving programs for non-academic ecologists, and increasing services for academic ecologists at all career stages. The goals will be reviewed at the fall 2016 governing board meeting. She also gave an update on Society interactions with NEON, particularly given recent changes in the management of NEON.

B. Report of the Executive Director and Staff

Executive Director McCarter noted that there were 2,402 pre-registrants for the meeting. It was expected that this would not be a large meeting. She gave an update on the publication transition to Wiley, and noted that the search for a Director of Member Services is underway and going well.

Alison Mize gave a brief update on activities in the Public Affairs office. It was a quiet year for new legislation at the federal level, but the office organized over 60 meetings with congressional staff. The press room will be open throughout the meeting in Ft. Lauderdale.

Cliff Duke reviewed several projects of the Science Office, including coordinating a review of a Northwest Forest Science Synthesis. The office continues to work to support the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

Steve Sayre reported on the transition of ESA journals to Wiley. The transition of the publishing workflow to ScholarOne is complete, but there are still issues to be resolved. There are plans for a strategic planning/visioning process with the Editors-in-Chief this fall. Impact factors for all journals are up this year. Revenue projections from the journals are on track to be met or exceeded this year. ESA staff will continue to work with Wiley to improve time to publication at all of the journals.

Teresa Mourad noted that SEEDS is celebrating its 20th anniversary, with a celebration at the Diversity Luncheon. They are partnering with the Doris Duke Conservation Interns program during the Ft. Lauderdale meetings. She also reported on efforts to strengthen faculty mentoring networks.

Sue Silver gave an update on Frontiers. In contrast to the other ESA journals, all of the editing, including copy-editing, for Frontiers is done in-house at ESA, rather than at Wiley.

Elizabeth Biggs provided a brief update on finances. Subscription revenue and total numbers of subscriptions from ESA journals are up over previous years, reflecting the marketing strength of Wiley. The lease on the DC offices has been renewed, with considerable savings over the previous lease.

III. Discussion/Action Items

A. Financial Update

1. Fourth Quarter Financials

Elizabeth Biggs reviewed fourth quarter 2015-2016 fiscal year finances. Katherine McCarter noted that half of the past fiscal year included the transition to publishing with Wiley. The budget expected a small loss during the past fiscal year, in part because of one-time expenses associated with the publishing transition, however annual (unaudited) actual expenses of ~ $5,998,000 exceeded revenue by only slightly over $8,000. Both subscription and annual meeting revenue were significantly higher than budgeted, and salaries and benefits were slightly lower.

2. Investments (DeLucia)

Evan DeLucia reviewed performance of society investments. Unrestricted net assets exceed $3 million. Those assets are conservatively invested with two management firms. The long-term goal is to reach $5 million before beginning to draw on those funds for annual income.

B. FY 2016-2017 ESA Budget

1. Proposed ESA FY 2016-2017 Budget

Katherine McCarter reviewed the budget presented to the Governing Board at the May 2016 meeting. The budget will be presented to the Council for approval at the Council meeting held during the Ft. Lauderdale meeting.

2. Long Range Planning Grant Subcommittee

Governing Board Members-at-Large serve as the subcommittee to review long range planning grant proposals from sections, chapters, and ESA committees. New guidelines for the grants were approved in 2015.

3. Discussion of Council Presentation

There was a brief discussion of the agenda for the Council meeting. Kathryn Cottingham noted that it will be useful to review for the Council the financial implications of the transition to Wiley as the society’s publisher.

C. Review of Yonglong Lu & Review of Ecosystem Health and Sustainability

Josh Schimel assembled a review committee consisting of members from both ESA and the Ecological Society of China. The committee noted the challenges of starting a new journal, including defining a clear niche for the publication and building a flow of submissions. Dr. Lu has been very energetic in assembling both an advisory board and an editorial board, and in soliciting initial submissions and special issues for the journal. The committee and Dr. Lu identified a number of further steps that need to be taken to clarify the marketing vision, to develop a strong and successful identity, and to develop an effective editorial board.

David Lodge moved and Charles Canham seconded a motion to accept the recommendations of the review committee and to re-appoint Dr. Lu. All aye.

NOTE: the decision to reappoint the editor-in chief was rendered moot by a later Governing Board decision to end ESA’s participation in the journal. The later decision is recorded in the minutes for the September 2, 2016 meeting of the Governing Board

D. Editor-in-Chief Review: David Schimel

Tim Essington, Erik Nelson, and Elizabeth Borer were appointed by the Publications Committee to conduct the review of David Schimel as Editor-in-Chief of Ecological Applications. They consulted a large group of subject matter editors, publication staff, and Dave Schimel. They presented their review to the Governing Board, and concluded that the journal is doing extremely well and that Dave Schimel has been an integral part of that success.

David Lodge moved and Frank Davis seconded a motion to reappoint David Schimel as Editor-in-Chief of Ecological Applications. All aye.

E. Editor-in-Chief Review: Debra Peters

The Editor-in-Chief review for Debra Peters was prepared by the Publications Committee chaired by Josh Schimel. Debra has been Editor-in-Chief since the inception of Ecosphere in 2010, and has overseen its explosive growth over the past 6 years. The review noted the need to continue to increase staffing for the journal in response to the enormous growth in submissions. There was consensus among the many contributors to the review that Dr. Peters has been a committed, effective and well-respected Editor-in-Chief.

Charles Canham moved and Nalini Nadkarni seconded a motion to reappoint Debra Peters as Editor-in-Chief of Ecosphere. All aye.

F. Sexual Harassment Policy

During the May 2016 Governing Board meeting the Board reviewed a draft document prepared by ESA members as a result of a workshop at the ESA Annual Meeting in 2015 on the subject of “Recommendations for Reducing Sexual Violence and Harassment in the Field.” The group submitted a summary of recommendations to the Governing Board. Several board members noted that the recommendations conflict with guidelines specific to their home academic institutions. The Board referred the matter to the Professional Ethics and Appeals Committee for recommendations for ways that ESA can respond to these issues and also asked them to review the ESA Code of Ethics to see if it needs updating.

Currently ESA has a Meetings Code of Conduct which defines expected behavior, unacceptable behavior and outlines a reporting process and actions that ESA may take for unacceptable behavior at its meetings.

The Professional Ethics and Appeals Committee chaired by Pat Flebbe presented a written report summarizing their recommended actions. They noted that the current ESA Code of Ethics is strong and complete with respect to harassment in any form in any professional context, and did not recommend any formal changes to the Code. They did, however, present a number of suggestions for ways to make the Meetings Code of Conduct more effective, including making it more visible at ESA meetings and to appoint a committee to develop a formal best practices document on the subject of sexual harassment. They included a number of specific suggestions for the charge to the committee.

David Lodge moved and Kathryn Cottingham seconded a motion to appoint a committee to consider development of a best practices document on sexual harassment focused on field conditions. All aye.

G. Emeritus Ecologist Proposal

The Board of Professional Certification is proposing to create a new level for professional certification, Emeritus Ecologist, to begin with the 2017 applications. They have noted that distinguished and productive ecologists in the latter stages of their careers or retired have difficulty meeting the standard review of professional activities within the past five years. Often they are involved in non-traditional ways.

The BPC recommended creating a lifetime designation of Emeritus Ecologist and outlined the criteria for eligibility and suggested a reduced fee. The term “emeritus ecologist” conflicts, however, with an existing general membership category. The Governing Board was generally supportive of the proposal, but would like more clarification about the criteria to be used in conferring this status. There was also concern about conferring a certification status for a level of activity somewhere between full-time and retired status.

David Lodge moved and Kathryn Cottingham seconded a motion to reject the proposal as presented and ask the BPC to revise the proposal subject to input from the board. All aye.

H. Report of the Audit Committee

Charles Canham summarized the report of the Audit Committee. The auditors issued a clean unmodified opinion of the fiscal statements for the 2015 fiscal year. They encountered no difficulties in performing the audit, and thanked ESA staff for their support during the audit.

Val Eviner moved and David Inouye seconded accepting the Audit Committee report. All aye.

The Governing Board went into executive session at 3:00.

Meeting called to order, 9:00 am, Sunday, August 7, 2016

III. Discussion/Action Items (Continued)

I. 2016 Annual Meeting

Lee Frelich, Program Chair for the 2016 Annual Meetings, gave an update on preparation for the meetings. He complimented staff for their superb work on the program. The meeting will be smaller than many recent meetings, with 2218 abstracts in the program compared to > 3000 in Baltimore. Organized sessions continue to increase in popularity. The travel ban for federal employees continues to influence attendance. He expressed concern over competition with attendance at AGU meetings. He also suggested that news coverage in ecology could be strengthened by providing key environmental reporters with complimentary subscriptions to Frontiers.

Monica Turner thanked Lee Frelich and Kiyoko Mianishi, Meetings Committee Chair, for all of their efforts.

J. Meetings with Editors in Chief and Publications Chair

1. Ecology – Don Strong

Don Strong summarized the status of Ecology. Submissions and acceptances have been roughly constant for the past 4 years, while the editorial board has grown over time. The transition to Wiley has not been without complaints, but the number is small and generally related to issues in copy editing of highly technical papers. He complimented peer-review staff in Ithaca. There were early issues with university e-mail systems blocking messages to subject matter editors from ScholarOne.

2. Ecological Applications – Dave Schimel

Submissions to Applications have been stable at ~ 800/yr over the past 5 years. The distribution of submissions across disciplines has also been roughly stable over that period, although submissions with a human dimensions/social science focus have been increasing, as have climate-change related manuscripts. He noted that there were two instances of allegations of misconduct associated with submitted manuscripts, and suggested that the editors develop a standard set of procedures for responding to these cases. Guidelines from COPE are routinely used, and he proposed that this practice be formalized. In contrast to Ecology, the editorial board is somewhat smaller, with fewer highly specialized subject matter editors who only handle 1-2 manuscripts per year. He noted that no issues had been raised by authors with respect to the transition to Wiley, but members of the editorial board have a number of frustrations with the software infrastructure. But he expressed satisfaction with progress working with Wiley staff.

3. Ecological Monographs – Aimee Classen

Aimee Classen began her tenure as Editor-in-Chief in January 2016, joined by Brian Inouye as Associate Editor-in-Chief. Submissions are up 20%, and fewer and fewer papers don’t fit the scope of the journal. Roughly 40% of papers are rejected without external review. She noted that journal impact factors don’t capture the distribution of numbers of citations among individual papers and suggested compiling and presenting the distributions to authors and readers. Initial hiccups with ScholarOne are being ironed out. The journal uses the editorial boards of both Ecology and Ecological Applications.

4. Frontiers in Ecology & the Environment – Sue Silver

Submissions have dropped slightly at Frontiers, but manuscript flow has stabilized. Wiley staff have been responsive in dealing with early problems with the transition. She is seeking to increase the number of international members of the editorial board.

5. Ecosphere – Deb Peters

Ecosphere’s first six years have been marked by exponential growth, with over 1200 published papers. This resulted in some growing pains, including issues with backlogs in the publication process. This issue is largely outside the control of the editor and editorial board, and is being addressed via the workflow with Wiley. A new ESA staff member is being hired for the journal, but there remain challenges in speeding up the time to publication following acceptance.

6. Ecosystem Health and Sustainability-Yonglong Lu

Dr. Lu reported on status of the journal since its launch last year. The journal is too new to be indexed or have an impact factor. Most of the papers to date have been commissioned or in special features.

7. Bulletin – Ed Johnson

The Bulletin has been incorporated in ScholarOne, but with a set of work-arounds that fit the unique nature of the often solicited or regular content. He mentioned several topics that he would like to see addressed by contributions to the Bulletin, including the pros and cons of posting of preprints (pre-submission or acceptance), and the question of how much core ecological content manuscripts should contain in order to appear in an ESA journal.

8. Publications Committee – Josh Schimel

Josh Schimel summarized the work of the Publications Committee during the past year, focusing on the reviews of three Editors-in-Chief. This was followed by a more general discussion of publication issues.

Meeting adjourned at 12:00, August 7, 2016. –Submitted by Charles Canham, Secretary

Friday, August 12, 2016: Meeting of the 2016-2017 Governing Board called to order at 8:30 am by President David Lodge

Governing Board Members:

David Lodge –President, presiding
Rich Pouyat –President Elect
Monica Turner –Past President
Nalini Nadkarni –Vice President for Education and Diversity
Jayne Belnap –Vice-President for Science
Jessica Gurevitch –Secretary
Kathryn Cottingham –Member at Large
Emily Cloyd –Member at Large


Rob Salguero-Gomez, Early Career Ecologist Section Chair

ESA Staff

Cliff Duke, Director of Science
Katherine McCarter, Executive Director
Alison Mize, Director of Public Affairs
Steven Sayre, Associate Director, Publications
Sue Silver, Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers

I Information

A. 2016-2017 Governing Board
  1. Incoming President David Lodge welcomed the new GB members, and offered kudos to Past-President Monica Turner and the ESA Staff for organizing a great meeting. He commented that ESA is in great shape.
  2. President Lodge recommended that by end of 2016, the staff and GB members should develop a document of Procedures and Processes put together by GB members and ESA office staff, to clarify responsibilities and smooth transitions.
  3. Upcoming Meeting dates were announced: Fall, Nov. 7, 2016 orientation for new members starting at Noon, Nov 8-9 Governing Board meeting (adjourn at noon on 9 Nov.) followed by a meeting in the afternoon for the Vice Presidents for Science, Education and Diversity, and Public Affairs. Spring, May 3-4, 2017 (full day 3 May, half day 4 May). Both meetings will take place in Washington DC @ ESA HQ.

II Discussion/Action Items

A. Audit Committee

New members Jayne Belnap and Monica Turner were appointed to fill two openings and join current member Frank Davis who will serve as Chair.

B. Current issues

  1. Sexual harassment issues: The GB expressed the views that ESA can do more to raise visibility and address these issues. Kathryn Cottingham will convene a committee and a charge for the committee will be developed. An NSF-funded workshop organized by AGU to discuss sexual harassment in the field will be held on Sept. 9, 2016, and Katherine McCarter and Emily Cloyd will attend to represent ESA.
  2. Membership services and Communications strategy: A search is underway for a Membership Services Director as a permanent ESA staff member, and is being led by Katherine McCarter. ESA also anticipates recruiting an external communications specialist (as a consultant with a limited term). Goals for the Membership Services Director are being developed and elaborated. The communications specialist can also help to update the website design and develop a longer-term plan for website design and strategy.
  3. Journal issues:

    EHS: Discussion continued on the challenges facing this new journal, and President Lodge has followed up with conversations with relevant parties during the week. He indicated that the Board may be asked to continue this discussion after the Florida annual meeting.

    Ecosphere: Success of this journal has been very rapid, but more support may be needed. Steve Sayre has put together an 8-point plan with ESA publications staff and Deb Peters to move back to fast publication and work effectively with Wiley on this. Resolving these issues is an immediate and high priority for ESA and resources will be allocated to address these issues.

C. Usefulness of final Friday meeting: The value of having an 8:30 am meeting on the Friday at the Annual Meeting conclusion was raised and will be revisited at the Fall meeting in DC. While it is recognized that a GB meeting at the end of the Annual Meeting has value, there is also considerable support for changing the scheduling of this meeting.

III Other

  • Future meetings: A suggestion was made by Jessica Gurevitch to meet with Mexican Ecological Society. This will be discussed at the November GB meeting.
  • AV volunteers: Jessica Gurevitch and Rob Salguero-Gomez noted that better training for AV volunteers is needed at meetings.
  • NEON/Battelle informal update by DL: The ESA leadership met with the NEON team during the week; In addition to a meeting with the current Battelle/NEON leaders earlier in the week, five ESA Presidents/Past Presidents met with Jim Olds, Assistant Director for the BIO Directorate at NSF, to facilitate better ESA input to NEON via the ESA leadership. There is a reconstituted group called STEAC that will provide scientific input to NEON and ESA is invited to name a representative to this group. NEON is conceived of as a 30 year instrument (starting in 2019) to foster research using this new infrastructure. The ESA community is perceived as the central users of this instrument. The infrastructure will be evolving over this 30 year period, with input from ESA. ESA can lead in leveraging existing networks with NEON.

9:30 AM Adjourn

–Submitted by Jessica Gurevitch, Secretary

Meeting convened September 2, 2016 – Conference Call

Governing Board Members Present

David M. Lodge, President
Richard Pouyat
Monica G Turner
Jayne Belnap
Evan DeLucia
Frank Davis
Jessica Gurevitch
Kathryn L. Cottingham
Emily Therese Cloyd
Sharon Hall

Governing Board Members Absent

Nalini Nadkarni

Staff Members Present

Katherine McCarter
Steven Sayre

Community Review of Ecosystem Health ant Sustainability

The ESA Governing Board met by conference call on Friday, September 2, 2016 to continue a discussion about the journal Ecosystem Health and Sustainability (EHS) which was started during the Governing Board meeting in Fort Lauderdale and informed by additional information and discussions during and after the annual meeting.

The Board arrived at a decision to terminate the publishing agreement with the Ecological Society of China after much discussion and reflection. The Board concluded that ESA misjudged the potential for success for this open-access journal, particularly in the crowded ecology market. The small stream of submissions to EHS is not increasing and, therefore, EHS relies on commissioned articles or manuscripts transferred from other ESA journals to fill each issue. The current publication rate of three articles per month is not sufficient to sustain a journal. This was a difficult but necessary decision in the opinion of all present.

A motion was made and seconded that ESA will terminate the EHS publishing agreement with the Ecological Society of China

The Governing Board voted unanimously to approve this motion.