May, 2018

ESA Governing Board

Spring 2018 Meeting

Tuesday, May 8 and Wednesday, May 9, 2018


Ecological Society of America

Conference Room

1990 M Street NW, Suite 700

Washington, DC 20036


Rich Pouyat, Presiding

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Ecological Society of America

Conference Room

Members Present

Rich Pouyat                       President

David Lodge                      Past-President

Laura Huenneke              President-Elect

Frank Davis                       VP for Public Affairs

Jayne Belnap                     VP for Science

Evan DeLucia                   VP for Finance

Jessica Gurevitch            Secretary

Emily Cloyd                      Member-at-Large

Sharon Hall                        Member-at-Large

Gillian Bowser                  Member at Large


Members Absent

Nalini Nadkarni               VP for Education & Human Resources


Staff Present:

Catherine O’Riordan      Executive Director

Elizabeth Biggs                Chief Financial Officer

Cliff Duke                           Director, Science

Teresa Mourad                 Director, Education and Diversity

Sue Silver                            Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers

Steven Sayre                     Director, Publishing and Member Services

Alison Mize                        Director, Public Affairs

Christi Nam                       Meetings (for meetings discussion)


Guest Present

Greg Chorak                      Student Section representative


Guest for Specific Agenda Items

Scott Franklin                   Standing Committee Chair, Vegetation Classification committee

Kathy Cottingham          NSF, Code of Conduct discussion (by phone)

Sharon Collinge                NEON Director (by phone)



9:00       I.             Roll Call and call to order by President Rich Pouyat, Presiding

President Pouyat welcomed the Governing Board and the new Executive Director, Catherine O’Riordan, to the meeting.

  1. Adopt Agenda

Cloyd moved, seconded by Huenneke, all aye

  1. Ratification of Votes
    1. Approve award nominations

Huenneke moved, Belnap seconded, all aye

  1. Approve change to bylaws

Davis moved, Hall seconded, all aye

  1. Approve minutes from Fall 2017 GB meeting

Huenneke moved, Hall seconded, all aye

  1. Reports


  1. Report of the President (Pouyat)

President Pouyat thanked Liz Biggs for serving as Interim Executive Director and the entire ESA staff for their efforts during the transition between Executive Directors, to enthusiastic and appreciative applause from the Governing Board (GB). Efforts to develop and launch the Extending the Tent initiative being developed by an ad-hoc committee are underway with brainstorming and exploring ideas and suggestions, and development of unified strategies, including the consideration of financial and staff commitments. Pouyat also reported on the Policy Training that was sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of ESA held at Bowie State University, Nov 2-3, which was very successful, and on the meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter held at Rutgers University-Newark. The Katherine McCarter Policy Awards were presented at an all-day event that included information on communication with Congress, and a visit to the Hill to meet with Congressional Representatives and Senators.

  1.     Report of the Executive Director and Staff (O’Riordan and staff)

Catherine O’Riordan described some of the experiences of her first few weeks as Executive Director. She spoke with all of the GB members by phone as she came on board to listen to their ideas. The staff has been discussing how to raise the profile of ESA and to attract new members. Communication with and engaging the public is one of the cross-cutting themes staff members are working on together. O’Riordan is also beginning to put together development/fund-raising initiatives.

Cliff Duke: The Nagoya Protocol workshop brought together about 25 representatives of various societies; this affects any research involving international genetic research. An article was published in the April Bulletin summarizing the results of this workshop. The Science Office is developing a protocol and resource for Data Repository guidelines, supported by NSF. The Vegetation Classification Panel has been supported as an ESA standing committee and has been in operation for several decades. The IPBES is the biodiversity equivalent of the IPCC.  With funding from a NSF grant, ESA supports a committee to review applicants for IPBES expert contributors. The GB discussed the nature and implementation of the ECOLOG listserve in light of ESA’s communication strategies (it has ESA’s name on it but is not managed or controlled by ESA).

Alison Mize: The ESA Policy Awards, were granted with supplemental funding by Wiley (as designated by the GB).  The expanded number of awardees conducted successful visits on Capitol Hill. The Public Affairs office published a blog on one awardee’s experience of meeting with her Congressional representatives. The Public Affairs staff has turned over, with people moving on and new staff members hired. There was an online platform set up by the Public Affairs office to support ESA members’ relief and recovery efforts after the two hurricanes in Puerto Rico, and scientists helping scientists were effective in reaching out to ecologists affected by this natural disaster.

Teresa Mourad: SEEDS is in the final year of NSF funding and Mourad is reaching out to see what the opportunities for extended funding might be. ESA now has an endowment named for Henry L. Gholz to support SEEDS national field trips. Gurevitch asked in the May meeting for data on how many SEEDS current participants and alumni are ESA members. ESA does not currently track SEEDS alumni; there was a survey from 2013 that indicated that about 30% are ESA members. The limitations of funding and staff time make it difficult to track SEEDS alumni. The GB will discuss the goals of the SEEDS program in light of the overall goals and priorities of ESA, and what the metrics are for assessing its progress in meeting these goals, in the October GB meeting.  Mourad also reported on supporting non-academic careers through the certification program, and in setting up a Career Fair at the annual meeting in the Exhibit Hall as a regular annual event. There will be a diversity forum at the annual meeting open to all members.

Bowser requested that we have a list of all NSF and other grants to ESA for future GB meetings [Action item – it will be provided to the GB when they review the budget].

Steve Sayre: A more complete report will be provided in the afternoon and is available in the Board Book. We are at 6240 members currently; more are expected as the deadline for registration approaches. Registration is going well. We anticipate about 3500 registrants at the meeting this year, which should be a strong showing.

Liz Biggs: The ongoing work on the website is continuing; the Society website is being completely redesigned.

Sue Silver: Silver mentioned that Frontiers fits well within the Extending the Tent initiative, as a benefit of membership.

  1. Information items (Rich Pouyat): There have been requests from a section and from the awards chair. The Communication Section wants to revise their award to send some of their leaders to the Annual Meeting who don’t have other funding; Hall reported that this section requested a Leadership Award to provide such funding to increase the diversity of leaders that attend the Annual Meeting.  Pouyat has referred the request to the Extending the Tent committee. O’Riordan responded to a request by Jonathan Levine (Awards Chair) for member demographics including career stage, time since degree, and gender demographics.  While we have information on self-disclosed gender, over 17% of members have not disclosed their gender. ESA also has limited information on ethnic identity due to substantial numbers choosing not to disclose this information. O’Riordan has provided demographics that are currently available to Levine.  Huenneke explained that the Task Force is working to get better information and estimates to use in planning strategy.
  2. Financial update (DeLucia/Biggs): DeLucia reported that ESA has two major investments (managed professionally by two different companies), restricted and unrestricted funds. Our target is to reach $5M in unrestricted funds before moneys are expended generated by this investment. The investments are growing; there is a goal to achieve a balance between conservative investments (fixed income) and those with growth potential (equity investments) in asset allocation (moving toward 70/30 equity/fixed). The Governing Board has agreed to begin planning on how the income from the investments in unrestricted funds will be allocated to programs in the future. Sayre asked about market volatility; there is a recommendation from the professional managers that this strategy remains prudent right now. Biggs presented a balance sheet for the year-to-date of budget and actual money expended, and GB members discussed the details. DeLucia brought up the point that we need to be very mindful of making sure that revenue exceeds expenditures. Gurevitch mentioned that it would be helpful to know what program investments are; Bowser mentioned that it would also be important to know where the grants and other support is coming from (and long vs. short term) and the expenses for each program. Biggs replied that more information will be provided in the afternoon Budget report.
  3. Report of the nominations committee (Lodge): Lodge thanked the members of this committee for their excellent participation. Lodge invited the President-Elect to be part of the committee to increase continuity. The nominations are listed in the Board Book. There was a discussion of the goals for the choices made in the nominations process, including diversity (career stage, gender, different career paths, and others), management and leadership experience, and commitment to the Society.  Those elected to the GB are also expected to have ESA fiduciary and legal responsibilities including the Duties of Care (use care and prudence in operation of the business), Loyalty (put organizations interests ahead of one’s own), and Obedience (be faithful to the mission and obey internal rules and external laws). Hall mentioned that a regular list of past nominees be kept in a more regular manner, with this made available to the President and nominations committees in the future. Lodge concurred and has been working to regularize these records. Biggs said the information is available and can be compiled, stored and be made more accessible. Huenneke moved that we endorse the slate, Belnap seconded, all aye. Gurevitch, as Secretary, will communicate the with the candidates as the election approaches.
  4. Report of the Audit Committee (Davis)

The committee met with the auditing firm to review the audit; the independent auditing firm agreed that the statements were fair and accurate and appropriate.

Gurevitch moved, Lodge seconded, that upon recommendation of the Audit Committee, the audit of ESA finances ending 30 June 2017 is approved. All aye.

  1. Extending the Tent, update (Huenneke)

There is a nine-member ad-hoc committee that is working on developing the initiatives.  Electronic meetings have been conducted and an electronic space for communication and archiving has been developed. (The members of the task force are on page 38 of the Board Book.) There was a request for responses to the online petition to the letter from the 500 Women Scientists letter and a response was composed and sent. Many of the initiatives that ESA is already carrying out are not well communicated to the membership and that needs to be done better in the future. Most of what has been done so far is brainstorming ideas. They have focused on four areas: academic ecologists (including contingent faculty as well as tenured and tenure-track faculty), people in non-academic careers (industry, government, science communication, and other areas), transitional individuals (people moving from being students to future careers), and personal identification and human diversity as a focus. Expanding and solidifying membership as well as pursuing the broader goals of ESA will be considered for all of these efforts. Pouyat and Huenneke will be conducting a Town Hall at the Annual Meeting on Extending the Tent to get member feedback on a preliminary report expected to be ready by August, 2018. The task force will continue after the Annual Meeting with Pouyat acting as Chair of the committee. A goal of the next phase is to come up with a list of prioritized initiatives to bring to the GB at the next annual meeting in Louisville. There will be a piece in Frontiers highlighting these initiatives in the future. Ideas for greater outreach from the Annual Meeting for members who are not able to attend are being developed.

                        III.  Discussion/Action Items

  1. Proposed FY 2018-2019 Budget (DeLucia/Biggs)

The GB went over the budget and asked questions to clarify the sources of revenue and expense items. Hall brought up that we discussed the issues of prioritization/realignment of the various programs at the Fall meeting, but this was set aside until the new Executive Director was on board. This topic will be addressed in the future as part of strategic planning.

Lodge moved, Davis seconded, upon recommendation by Treasurer DeLucia, the proposed 2018-19 budget is accepted and will be recommended to the Council for adoption at the Annual Meeting. One abstention, remainder aye.

  1. Vegetation Classification Committee update (Franklin)

Franklin presented an overview of the Standing Panel on the National Vegetation Classification Panel. There was a great amount of classification information nationally before this panel began its work, but it was being used in different ways by different federal agencies, state agencies and non-governmental entities. The goal was to come up with a standard approach to be used nationally for environmental management and conservation purposes. An important issue is that ecological systems change over time due to changes in land use, climate change, exotic species invasions, and other forcing functions. The committee began in 1995 (and as an ESA standing committee in 2009) with many milestones along the way to the present, with standards developed and revised (major revision in 2008). Three groups have responsibilities for the Classification system: the Federal agencies are one group (representing 9 agencies); Nature Serve; and the ESA Vegetation Classification Panel is the third. Education and outreach, peer review, and VegBank are components of the mission. ESA staff work to coordinate and facilitate meetings of this Panel and with archiving the Proceedings. (USNVC has been published in AVS 2015 18:543-560). This is being used, for example, by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Communities, by state Heritage Programs, with LandFire (a program that provides geo-spatial layers (e.g. vegetation, fuel, disturbance, etc.), databases, and ecological models), and by managers. Efforts are being made to coordinate with European researchers who largely use Braun-Blanquet approaches.


  1. Publications Program Review (Silver, Sayre)

 Metrics have been circulated to the GB to assess the success of each of the publications. Ecosphere is growing rapidly, other journals are stable. The Impact Factors (IFs) are steady and slowly increasing. Frontiers and Monographs have more variable IFs because fewer articles are published (so each one influences the IF more). They are maintaining their rankings, however. There has been 30% increase in download growth, which is a huge increase, particularly in institutional access, which is due largely to Wiley. Submissions are healthy but relatively flat, time to first decision is also pretty much flat. The total number of citations per journal is vastly higher for Ecology than for any of its “competitors.” There was an Editor in Chief (EiC) strategy meeting in Scottsdale several months ago with Wiley, to formulate strategies and discuss best practices. An extended discussion among the EiCs was conducted to evaluate double blinding reviews, and they decided after deliberation that it would be difficult, involve considerable effort, and would not be a true double blinding due to the specificity of expertise, systems and locations in a fairly small research field. It has other limitations including taking out information on prior research, use of field sites, and other issues, so it will not be adopted at the present time.  A study of gender identity and publication in ESA journals is underway (carried out by ESA publications staff). Open review was also considered but thought to be unnecessary by the EiCs. TOP guidelines are being incorporated, although pre-registration has met considerable resistance. Sayre asked the GB if term limits for EiCs should be considered. Davis, Lodge, Belnap and others supported evaluation of practices for editor terms of other organizations that publish scientific journals. (The issue of term limits for EiCs was considered in the past and rejected by the Council.)

  1. Public Affairs Office Updates:
  2. Committee Update (Davis)

The Public Affairs committee advises the Public Affairs office and carries out other responsibilities relevant to bringing science to policy outreach. There are 7 members and they meet in the winter and again at the Annual Meeting. The GB was informed about the many different activities and talks at the Annual Meeting carried out by this committee.

  1. Regional Policy Award Approval (Davis, Mize)

Lodge moved, Belnap seconded to approve, upon recommendation by Frank Davis, naming Walter J. Leger III, Speaker pro tempore of the Louisiana House of Representatives and the representative for District 91, as 2018 Regional Policy Award Recipient. All aye.

It was recommended that the committee reconsider its Regional Policy Award Criteria and bring this back to the GB for discussion (e.g. whether they required to be current local office holders).

  1. Questions for Fall 2018 PAO Program Review (Davis, Mize)

Mize informed the GB that there will be a 2018 Fall meeting review of the Public Affairs Office, and solicited questions from the GB for that review. Belnap asked, how are Public Affairs items identified? Huenneke asked about how membership have engaged with the issues? Cloyd asked, how is connection with relevant sections carried out? Bowser asked how international issues are being addressed and how is membership being engaged on international issues? Can membership be engaged to do more on these or other issues? Mize explained that they have expanded the Rapid Response Team and they are considering opening this up to broader membership participation after an application process. There is a feature article on Policy News on the new science recommendation of EPA for “open science” reporting of any science used in EPA rules; this is a huge problem because it requires publication of confidential data, long term studies are not reproducible, reporting on unique events (e.g. Deepwater Horizon leak) are not reproducible, and other limitations. This new ruling is potentially very dangerous, and there is a very short window of time for public comments (a few weeks) and represents a large intrusion of politics into science.

  1. Distinguished Service Citation Committee Request for Input (O’Riordan)

Jill Baron asked for recommendations for nominations for this Award. GB members suggested several names and suggested that the Section and Committee Chairs can suggest people who may be quieter contributors who may not have held major office, but are still essential to the long term function of the ESA.

  1.     Student Section Podcast Proposal (Chorak)

Chorak, representing the Student Section, presented a proposal for the Section to create a podcast series. The primary motivation is that this would be a way to keep students engaged throughout the year by listening to relevant podcasts of informal research presentations, experiences serving as TAs, etc. It would be useful for reaching out to students who may be members but may not be members of the student section. DeLucia asked, how will they be branded? How will they be produced and archived? Will there be quality control for content? He emphasized that they should be consistent with other ESA materials. There are already several podcasts produced by Student Section members published online (searchable under ESA Students Science in Progress but not on the ESA website at this time). There was a discussion of whether all students should be made members of the Student Section without cost as an automatic enrollment.  O’Riordan will work with staff to consider all of the issues involved, and report back to the GB


5:10                                       RECESSED until May 9


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Ecological Society of America

Conference Room

8:00–10:00                        EXECUTIVE SESSION

10:15  Regular meeting convened

  1. Discussion/Action Items, Con’t.

NEON Activities and ESA Membership (Pouyat/Collinge, by phone)

Various opportunities for interactions between NEON and ESA were outlined and discussed, and ways in which the ESA membership can access NEON data were provided. NEON is eager to provide an inspiring platform for interaction with ESA including workshops and networking platforms at the Annual Meeting, and a symposium Monday afternoon focusing on early career scientists’ work and accomplishments. Theresa Mourad and Frank Davis have contributed to some of the interactive activities between ESA and NEON. Sue Silver invited representatives of NEON to propose an article in Frontiers to make ESA members more aware of NEON outputs and activities.

  1. Sexual Harassment Ad Hoc Committee Update (Cloyd/Cottingham, by phone)

A three-page document prepared by AGU outlines principles for dealing with sexual harassment (included in the Board Book). The committee recommends adopting these principles for ESA.

Huenneke moved to adopt these principles, Cloyd seconded, all aye.

The committee proposes a more streamlined Code of Conduct for ESA Events, based on the existing Meeting Code of Conduct (included in the Board Book). There was a discussion of wording to identify and distinguish true physical threats from feeling uncomfortable in consideration of issues related to inclusion and discrimination. Wording changes were suggested and the document will be revised. A vote will be conducted by email on the revised document.

  1. Annual Meeting Issues (Pouyat)
  2. Local Host 2020 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting

Belnap moved, DeLucia seconded, upon recommendation by Kiyoko Miyanishi and the Meetings Committee, that Diane Pataki be approved as local host for the 2020 Annual meeting at Salt Lake City. All aye.

  1. Program Chair 2020 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting

Huenneke moved, Cloyd seconded, upon recommendation by Kiyoko Miyanishi and the Meetings Committee, that Kiona Ogle be approved as Program Chair for the 2020 Annual meeting at Salt Lake City. All aye.

  1. Theme 2019 Louisville Annual Meeting

The theme for the 2019 Annual meeting at Louisville was proposed to be: Bridging communities and ecosystems: Inclusion as an ecological imperative. There was a discussion with suggestions for revising the wording. Cloyd volunteered to help with revising the wording, to make suggestions to the meeting organizers. Lodge, Pouyat and Bowser will review and approve the changes.

  1. Environmental Offsets 2018 Meeting

ESA contributes $5 for each meeting attendee for environmental offsets.

Huenneke moved, DeLucia seconded the motion as recommended by the local host chair to contribute the money for environmental offsets to the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana to be awarded the ESA’s environmental offsets. All aye.

  1. Mexican Society Activities in New Orleans

There will be an INSPIRE session on Tuesday morning sponsored by the Mexican Scientific Society for Ecology. The MSSE President and Vice President will attend the ESA meeting.  Members of this society will be extended ESA member rates for registration.

  1. Selection of Portland for 2023 Annual Meeting

DeLucia moved, Cloyd seconded, upon recommendation by the Meetings Committee, that the 2023 Annual Meeting be held in Portland, OR. All aye.

  1. Rotation of Annual Meeting to Certain Locations

Nam explained the issues at stake for annual meetings: dates, expense and location. ESA’s economic impact is over $12M for a meeting, but there is very high variance in that impact. Cities bid for the contract depending on their expectations for that impact. Having members book accommodation through the ESA website for the ESA reserved hotel block is important for keeping the cost of the meeting as low as possible.  One issue for getting on a regular rotation (as had been discussed at an earlier GB meeting) is that the conference landscape is constantly changing and ESA needs to have flexibility to respond.  The meetings committee will come up with a plan for upcoming meetings and will bring it to the GB.

  1. Political Issues Louisville and How to Mitigate

The GB discussed, with respect to addressing LGBTQ issues, the welcoming spirit of the city of Louisville in contrast to the less-welcoming atmosphere of Kentucky. Bowser pointed out that LGBTQ concerns are not the only basis for potential member concerns about Louisville – we should be attentive to concerns based on racial identity and Louisville’s history. GB members were asked to answer member questions and advocate for the Louisville meeting to make it successful.

Meetings Committee Informational item: A new Meetings Committee Chair will need to be named when the current Chair steps down. An interim plan for the next 6 months will be developed by Belnap (report back at the August GB meeting).  

  1. Certification Program:

A new certification program and model was discussed. One possible model would require ESA membership, with a new Application and Exam which may include an Application and Exam fee. Renewals could require 8 hours per year of continuing education units, of which 4 hours will require ESA activities.

Assumptions are being made that we can deliver content relevant for certification, have a robust marketing plan, and have considered immediate and continuing annual financial and staff commitments. There will be some need for investment up front – especially for market research and program development. Bids for a market analysis and a business plan – roughly $25K, proposed to come out of opportunity funds (which the GB approved yesterday for up to $30K, as part of the budget). The ESA Staff has developed a first draft of a business model and the GB saw a possible path toward a revenue neutral or revenue-generating program. President-Elect Huenneke expressed appreciation for the work done on this program, and recommended that market research is the appropriate next step.

DeLucia moved, Lodge second to approve spending up to $25K from the opportunity fund to complete market research on a new certification program.

Vote: One abstention, all others in favor.

  1. International Sustainability (Bowser)

Bowser attends the meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) every year. Last year Colorado State Univ. hosted a meeting for students interested in getting engaged in international activities (most were there sponsored by AGU and AMS). The UNFCCC meeting focuses on many ecological and environmental issues, and badging students or other members to attend would be good. Cost for society to badge attendees is $0, but it does take time to assemble delegation authority.  The sections could help nominate and select sponsored delegates. Students generally find funding to attend on their own, or received small grants (even $100) from their schools or scientific societies. O’Riordan has researched what it would take for ESA to get observer status – it will take about a year. Pouyat reported on two other international opportunities have come across recently:  INTECOL in Geneva (they have reached out to see if ESA can participate); and IUFRO (have already talked about ways to cross-fertilize, coming up soon). O’Riordan reported that the Rangeland Section has some long-range planning grant funds to work on collaborations for the International Rangeland Congress.  Mize noted that tracking these partnerships also falls under Public Affairs, so suggest that VP for Public Affairs be involved in whatever conversations take place moving forward.  Management will prepare a report for the President and VP on these activities. The report will be shared with the Extending the Tent ad-hoc committee.

12:45    ADJOURNED