Laura Huenneke selected to lead as President of the Ecological Society of America for 2018-2019 term

Friday, 10 August 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Alison Mize, 202-833-8773 ext. 205; cell, 703-625-3628, Alison@esa.org

 

Laura Huenneke, an ecologist and conservation scientist who has also served in university and nonprofit leadership positions, became President of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) during the Society’s annual meeting in New Orleans, LA. Elected by the members of ESA for a one-year term, Huenneke presides over the world’s largest professional society of ecologists. Its membership is composed of 9,000 researchers, educators, natural resource managers, and students, reflecting the diverse interests and activities of the Society. As President, Huenneke now chairs ESA’s governing board that establishes the Society’s vision, goals, and objectives.

Laura Huenneke is a Professor Emeritus and researcher in the School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, Northern Arizona University.

“We live in an increasingly complicated and interconnected world that requires sound ecological science to improve management of the human and natural environment. ESA’s members provide that scientific understanding of the world around us, and we need their expertise more than ever to understand how changes in nature are affecting all of us,” said Huenneke.

ESA publishes a membership bulletin and five journals of leading-edge ecological research, which often lead to discoveries to address societal challenges. Every year, ecologists gather in August to present research results at the Society’s annual meeting. In addition to research, the Society is committed to diversity and inclusiveness among its membership and to fostering ecologists’ career development in academia, government, and the private sector. Increasingly, ecologists are needed to apply their knowledge outside of the lab to inform sound ecological decisions made by local, state, and federally elected officials, nongovernmental organizations, and the business sector. For the past six months, Huenneke has been chairing a task force of ESA members charged with exploring ways of expanding and better supporting membership in the Society.

“Huenneke’s prestigious career achievements encompass a rare combination of scientific expertise and organizational experience. Under her leadership, ESA is poised to continue and expand its influence in the ecological field and other sectors,” said Catherine O’Riordan, ESA executive director.

Dr. Huenneke currently is Professor Emeritus on the faculty at Northern Arizona University’s’ (NAU) School of Earth and Sustainability. At NAU she also served as dean, vice president for research, and vice president for academic affairs (provost). As its founding dean, she led the formation and successful early years of a new interdisciplinary College of Engineering & Natural Sciences. For 10 years she served as lead investigator for the NIH-funded Partnership for Native American Cancer Prevention, a program of research and training aimed at reducing the cancer burden for Arizona tribal communities while increasing the number of Native Americans in health-related professions. She also guided the development of several interdisciplinary research programs and centers while sustaining the university’s commitment to collaborations such as the Biennial Conference for Research and Management on the Colorado Plateau.

Laura Huenneke’s research interests include plant population and community ecology, conservation science, and long-term ecological patterns in arid and semi-arid ecosystems.

Prior to her positions with NAU, Huenneke spent 16 years at New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces, where she became Regents’ Professor and department chair in Biology. While at NMSU she directed research focused on both rare and invasive plants, and on plant community dynamics in semi-arid ecosystems. She served as a principal investigator and as Project Director for the National Science Foundation-funded Jornada Basin Long-Term Ecological Research site.

“Even in the largest cities, people are fully embedded in – and affected by – the ecosystems around them. Ecologists work to understand the impacts we are having on natural and managed systems, and they are helping craft solutions that will allow both people and nature to thrive,” said Huenneke.

After a distinguished career in academia, Huenneke recently joined the board of directors of SWCA, Inc., a large environmental consulting firm; she is a member of the Hopi Education Endowment Fund board, the board of trustees for the Museum of Northern Arizona, and the Board of Flagstaff STEM City. ESA members have elected her three times to its governing board, and she is also a certified Senior Ecologist recognized by the Society’s Board of Professional Certification.

“ESA has long been my professional home, and being elected as President is a tremendous honor. I’m looking forward to working with the Governing Board, the members, and the staff to advance ecology and to make the Society an even more welcoming and supportive organization,” said Huenneke.

After receiving an undergraduate degree from the Univerity of Missouri, Huenneke earned her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University. She has numerous professional honors and recognition, has published more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, and has served on the editorial boards and as a reviewer for numerous scientific journals.

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The Ecological Society of America, founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in ecological science. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.

The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana receives environmental offsets from the Ecological Society of America

103rd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America: 
Extreme events, ecosystem resilience and human well-being
5–10 August 2018

August 7, 2018
For Immediate Release

Contact: Zoe Gentes, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, zgentes@esa.org
New Orleans on-site press room: 504-670-6402

 

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) will donate over $17,500 to the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) to offset the environmental costs of the Society’s 103rd Annual Meeting, held this year in New Orleans, LA. More than 3,500 attendees convene from across the globe this week to impart, discuss, and share the latest in essential ecological research and discovery.

Student volunteers participate in a CRCL fall tree planting. Since 2000, CRCL’s Habitat Restoration Program has planted more than four million native plants throughout the Louisiana coast. Credit: CRCL

With so many in attendance, the environmental footprint left behind is not small, nor is it overlooked by ESA members. The energy required to transport, house, and host these environmentally-minded participants exacts a toll on the very ecosystems that conference participants have come together to discuss.

CRCL Restorations Programs Director Dr. Deb Abibou and volunteers plant CRCL’s 30,000th tree. The tree marked end of CRCL’s third “10,000 Trees for Louisiana” campaign. Credit: CRCL

Caz Taylor, a spatial ecologist at Tulane University and the meeting’s Local Host, stated that the wetland loss in the Gulf Coast region is of huge concern. She emphasized that the destruction of wetlands, which constitutes 40-45 percent of coastal wetlands in the lower continental United States, is “already having enormous environmental and economic consequences, and I think it is one of the most serious environmental issues facing the US.”

By the year 2040, it is estimated that one-third of coastal wetlands will be destroyed by urban development. CRCL uses a multifaceted restoration, outreach, and advocacy approach to achieve its mission of driving bold, science-based action to rebuild coastal Louisiana.

“Here in Louisiana we are losing wetlands at an incredible rate—one football field every 100 minutes and New Orleans is inching closer to the Gulf of Mexico every day,” said CRCL Executive Director Kimberly Davis Reyher. “We are thankful for ESA’s commitment to give back to Louisiana’s coast during their annual meeting. Few groups think about offsetting their environmental impact.”

CRCL is a boots-on-the-ground restoration organization that has engaged more than 13,000 volunteers through its Habitat Restoration Program. Volunteers have planted more than 3.5 million native trees and plants throughout coastal Louisiana. CRCL also administers the state’s only Oyster Shell Recycling Program which collects oyster shells from participating New Orleans restaurants and uses them to build living shoreline oyster reefs. These reefs encourage oyster settlement, provide fish and wildlife habitat and most importantly act as a breakwall to stabilize the Louisiana coastline. CRCL is also engaging the local fishing industry in its restoration work. Louisiana produces 30 percent of the fish consumed in the US.

CRCL Volunteers bagging Oyster Shells in Buras, Louisiana. The bagged shell is used to build living shorelines to rebuild oyster habitat and protect the coast from erosion and store surge. Credit: CRCL

As the oldest statewide coastal restoration organization in Louisiana, CRCL also advocates for coastal policy at the local, state and national levels and works to promote Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan, which is the state’s blueprint for restoring its coast. This 50-year plan calls for the construction of over a hundred projects including hydrologic restoration, marsh creation, and sediment diversions.

Community and science-based restoration efforts are at the core of the work accomplished by the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. These are values mirrored by the Ecological Society of America and its members. This funding will allow the CRCL to further its commitment to coastal restoration.

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2018 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana
Extreme events, ecosystem resilience and human well-being
5–10 August 2018

Ecologists from 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories, and countries around the world will converge on New Orleans, Louisiana this August for the 103rd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Up to 4,000 attendees are expected to gather for thousands of scientific presentations on breaking research and new ecological concepts at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on August 5 – 10, 2018.

ESA invites press and institutional public information officers to attend for free. To apply, please contact ESA Public Information Manager Zoe Gentes directly at zgentes@esa.org. Walk-in registration will be available during the meeting.

###

The Ecological Society of America (ESA), founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in the science of ecology. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.

Trees travelling west: how climate is changing our forests

103rd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America: 
Extreme events, ecosystem resilience and human well-being
5–10 August 2018

August 1, 2018
For Immediate Release

Contact: Zoe Gentes, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, zgentes@esa.org
New Orleans on-site press room: 504-670-6402

 

Many studies on the impacts of global temperature rise have suggested that the range of trees will migrate poleward and upward. However, research that will be presented at the 2018 ESA Annual Meeting in August suggests that more tree species have shifted westward than poleward.

The effects of climate change on trees can be complicated – different combinations of changes in temperature and precipitation can result in different impacts, and different species can have different responses. As such, resource managers lack a comprehensive understanding of large-scale climate change impacts on forest ecosystems.

Songlin Fei, Associate Professor at the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University, sought to provide some understanding to this problem. Using field data across the eastern US, he analyzed 86 tree species and groups to investigate the magnitude and direction of their responses to climate change over the last three decades and to provide an understanding of any changes.

Many tree species are expanding their range westward due to climate change, a shift caused by changes in precipitation and observed among species sharing similar traits. Photo courtesy of Songlin Fei.

He found that 73 percent of tree species have experienced a westward shift while 62 percent have experienced a poleward shift. It appears that the shifts are largely associated with changes in moisture availability. The shifts are also associated with species that have similar traits (drought tolerance, wood density, and seed weight) and evolutionary histories, such as deciduous vs. evergreen species. The results suggest that changes in moisture availability have stronger near-term impacts on forest dynamics than do changes in temperature.

Fei’s talk is part of a session that will discuss research on other large-scale climate change impacts on important forests in the eastern US, such as upland oak forests which provide a wealth of ecological and economic services including wildlife habitat, timber, and water resources. These forests have adapted to persist in fire-prone areas; human-induced fire control may change this by allowing tree species that are fire-intolerant and shade-tolerant (mesophytes) to outcompete the oaks in the absence of fire. Without fires, these mesophytes may foster their own proliferation through a variety of poorly-understood mechanisms, while increasing vulnerability of the upland oak forests.

This session includes the following selections:


OOS 28-1Divergence of species response to climate change

  • Thursday, August 9, 2018: 8:00 AM
  • 344, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
  • Songlin Fei, Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University
  • Presentation abstract
  • Contact: sfei@purdue.edu

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2018 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana
Extreme events, ecosystem resilience and human well-being
5–10 August 2018

Ecologists from 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories, and countries around the world will converge on New Orleans, Louisiana this August for the 103rd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Up to 4,000 attendees are expected to gather for thousands of scientific presentations on breaking research and new ecological concepts at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on August 5 – 10, 2018.

The Opening Plenary features Robert Twilley, executive director of the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program and distinguished professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science at Louisiana State University, who will speak about, “Ecosystem design approaches in a highly engineered landscape of the Mississippi River Delta.” The event is free and open to the general public and will be live-streamed – watch it here on Sunday, August 5 at 5:00 PM CDT.

ESA invites press and institutional public information officers to attend for free. To apply, please contact ESA Public Information Manager Zoe Gentes directly at zgentes@esa.org. Walk-in registration will be available during the meeting.

###

The Ecological Society of America (ESA), founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in the science of ecology. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.

Coldwater streams may provide refuge against changing climate

103rd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America: 
Extreme events, ecosystem resilience and human well-being
5–10 August 2018

July 24, 2018
For Immediate Release

 

Contact: Zoe Gentes, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, zgentes@esa.org

New Orleans on-site press room: 504-670-6402

 

Coldwater stream habitats are vulnerable to effects of climate change, particularly to changes in precipitation and air temperatures that alter their hydrology. Some of these streams are expected to diminish in size, permanently transition to warmer habitats, or possibly go dry. However, streams in deep canyons, poleward-facing slopes, thick canopy cover, groundwater-fed areas, and with fewer anthropogenic impacts are more likely to resist these changing conditions. Such areas may act as coldwater refugia — areas buffered from climate change that enable persistence of the ecosystem and its resources – and may provide long-term habitat to ecologically and economically important species.

These coldwater researchers study streams to evaluate them for traits that buffer against the effects of climate change, acting as climate refugia for important species and resources. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Quiñones.

The efficacy of conservation strategies to protect coldwater streams and the species that rely on them will depend upon understanding the potential persistence of these habitats. Such understanding may help with management practices including prioritization of dam removal, instream flow protection, vegetation management, and trout stocking. The first step is to identify locations that are relatively buffered from physical processes such as warming temperatures, hydrologic changes, or extreme disturbances like fire, drought, pests, and pathogens.

A study by Rebecca M. Quiñones, a fisheries biologist for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and partners builds on existing models of watershed characteristics to map Massachusetts streams under different climate scenarios and time scales. Quiñones used the presence of coldwater species – for example, Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), Longnose Sucker (Catostomus catostomus) and Slimy Sculpin (Cottus cognatus) — to identify stream reaches most likely to be climate refugia. The goal of the study is to determine the probability of species occupancy before and after potential management actions and the influence of urban development, water demand, and other stressors on stream characteristics. She will present her findings at the 2018 ESA Annual Meeting in August.

Quiñones’s presentation is part of a session about the role of climate change refugia in adapting our management of ecosystems as a response to changing environmental conditions. This session consists of 10 presentations, including the selections below:


OOS 35-10 – Mapping coldwater refugia as a first step towards spatially-explicit aquatic conservation in Massachusetts

  • Thursday, August 9, 2018: 4:40 PM
  • 343, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
  • Rebecca M. Quiñones, Department of Fish and Game, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
  • Presentation abstract
  • Contact: rebecca.quinones@state.ma.us

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2018 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana
Extreme events, ecosystem resilience and human well-being
5–10 August 2018

Ecologists from 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories, and countries around the world will converge on New Orleans, Louisiana this August for the 103rd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Up to 4,000 attendees are expected to gather for thousands of scientific presentations on breaking research and new ecological concepts at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on August 5 – 10, 2018.

The Opening Plenary features Robert Twilley, executive director of the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program and distinguished professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science at Louisiana State University, who will speak about, “Ecosystem design approaches in a highly engineered landscape of the Mississippi River Delta.” The event is free and open to the general public and will be live-streamed – watch it here on Sunday, August 5 at 5:00 PM Central Time.

ESA invites press and institutional public information officers to attend for free. To apply, please contact ESA Public Information Manager Zoe Gentes directly at zgentes@esa.org. Walk-in registration will be available during the meeting.

###

The Ecological Society of America (ESA), founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in the science of ecology. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.

2018 ESA Regional Policy Award Recognizes Representative Walter J. Leger III for His Coastal Restoration Work

103rd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America: 
Extreme events, ecosystem resilience and human well-being
5–10 August 2018

Tuesday, July 17, 2018
For Immediate Release

Contact: Alison Mize, 202-833-8773 ext. 205 or mobile, 703-625-3628  alison@esa.org 

Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) will present its 11th annual Regional Policy Award to Representative Walter J. Leger III, speaker pro tempore of the Louisiana House of Representatives, during the Society’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. The ESA award recognizes an elected or appointed local policymaker who has an outstanding record of informing policy decisions with ecological science.

Representative Walter J. Leger III, speaker pro tempore of the Louisiana House of Representatives.

“The Society applauds Rep. Leger’s commitment to science-based restoration of the Gulf Coast,” said ESA President Rich Pouyat. “Louisiana is losing about 75-square kilometers of coastal wetlands and habitat a year. Rep. Leger has demonstrated a consistent interest in coastal issues and raising awareness among policy makers through briefings from ecologists and others about the underlying science of coastal restoration through an unofficial ‘coastal caucus’ in Louisiana’s House of Representatives.”

Leger was first elected as a state legislator in 2007 and represents the Louisiana’s 91st District, which includes parts of New Orleans. Among other priorities, he has championed coastal restoration and preservation. He has worked actively to ensure proper use of funds intended for coastal protection and restoration, including funds stemming from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Leger is an avid supporter of Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan that focuses on building and maintaining land and reducing flood risk through large-scale projects such as marsh creation and sediment diversions; structural protection and nonstructural risk reduction; and proactive resilience investments for flood prevention and protection.

“I am honored to receive this award from the Ecological Society of America,” said Rep. Leger. “Having partners like ESA to inform the policymaking process regarding coastal preservation and restoration is vital to the future of Louisiana. Our geography defines us, and we need to continue working towards evidence and science-based solutions to ensure that the story our coastline tells is one of perseverance and longevity.”

ESA President Pouyat will present the 2018 ESA Regional Policy Award at the beginning of the meeting’s Opening Plenary Sunday, Aug. 5 at 5:00 PM in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center La Nouvelle Orleans Ballroom.

 

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2018 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana
Extreme events, ecosystem resilience and human well-being
5–10 August 2018

Ecologists from 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories, and countries around the world will converge on New Orleans, Louisiana this August for the 103rd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Up to 4,000 attendees are expected to gather for thousands of scientific presentations on breaking research and new ecological concepts at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on August 5 – 10, 2018.

The Opening Plenary features Robert Twilley, executive director of the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program and distinguished professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science at Louisiana State University, who will speak about, “Ecosystem design approaches in a highly engineered landscape of the Mississippi River Delta.” The event is free and open to the general public and will be live-streamed – watch it here on Sunday, August 5 at 5:00 PM.

ESA invites press and institutional public information officers to attend for free. To apply, please contact ESA Public Information Manager Zoe Gentes directly at zgentes@esa.org. Walk-in registration will be available during the meeting.

###

The Ecological Society of America (ESA), founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in the science of ecology. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.

Mangroves to mudflats and not back again

103rd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America: 
Extreme events, ecosystem resilience and human well-being
5–10 August 2018

July 13, 2018
For Immediate Release

Contact: Zoe Gentes, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, zgentes@esa.org

Over one-third of Earth’s population lives with 100 km of a coastline and depend on the services that coastal ecosystems provide. With the intensity and impact of hurricanes expected to increase in the future, there is a need to understand how coastal ecosystems will be impacted by and recover from hurricanes, and how these changes will influence human well-being.

Coastal ecosystems such as mangrove forests are highly susceptible to effects from hurricanes. Hurricanes can provide valuable sediments and nutrients that promote plant growth and increase the stability of some coastal ecosystems. However, storm surge, saltwater intrusion, wind, and extreme rainfall can knock down forests, lead to erosion, and transform plant communities. This can lead to an abrupt and irreversible ecosystem transformation.

In a southwestern section of Everglades National Park, hurricanes may have contributed to the conversion of mangrove forests to lower-elevation mudflats. The mangrove forests offer some protection from storm surge and can provide habitat stability. Long-term transformation to mudflats would have serious effects on the ability of coastal wetlands to persist against hurricanes and rising sea levels.

Left: mangrove forests and mudflats at the study site. Right: the intricate root systems of mangroves help stabilize living shorelines against erosion and extreme weather events. Photos courtesy of Michael J. Osland, USGS.

United States Geological Survey (USGS) scientists have measured surface elevation changes in these mangroves and adjacent mudflats for nearly 20 years, including changes brought on by Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and Hurricane Irma in 2017. Michael J. Osland, a USGS research ecologist, will speak on this research at the 2018 ESA Annual Meeting in August.

They found that over the last two decades, rates of elevation change in the mangrove forests and the un-vegetated mudflats have been very different. While the soil elevation in the mangroves has been relatively stable, the mudflats have been losing elevation. The data highlight the ability of mangrove trees to reduce elevation loss and minimize erosion while promoting wetland stability through root production. Their findings also indicate that the effects of mangrove conversion to mudflats are long-lasting, with negative impacts on the resilience of these ecosystems against extreme events.

The talk is part of a session about hurricane effects on coastal ecosystems in the southeast US. This session consists of 10 presentations, including the selections below:


OOS 26-6 — A hurricane-induced ecological regime shift: mangrove conversion to mudflat in Everglades National Park

  • Thursday, August 9, 2018: 9:50 AM
  • 343, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
  • Michael J. Osland, U.S. Geological Survey Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
  • Presentation abstract

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2018 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana
Extreme events, ecosystem resilience and human well-being
5–10 August 2018

Ecologists from 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories, and countries around the world will converge on New Orleans, Louisiana this August for the 103rd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Up to 4,000 attendees are expected to gather for thousands of scientific presentations on breaking research and new ecological concepts at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on August 5 – 10, 2018.

ESA invites press and institutional public information officers to attend for free. To apply, please contact ESA Public Information Manager Zoe Gentes directly at zgentes@esa.org. Walk-in registration will be available during the meeting.

The opening plenary talk by Robert Twilley will be live-streamed – watch it here on Sunday, August 5 at 5 PM.

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The Ecological Society of America (ESA), founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in the science of ecology. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.

Rising seas put salinity stress on Hawaiian coastal plants

103rd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America: 
Extreme events, ecosystem resilience and human well-being
5–10 August 2018

July 5, 2018
For Immediate Release

Contact: Zoe Gentes, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, zgentes@esa.org

With the increased likelihood of extreme weather events and sea-level rise associated with climate change, flooding poses a major risk to coastal regions. Seawater flooding is not only a threat to many already-threatened ecosystems, but also can cause socio-economic costs to the many millions of people that live on the coastal fringes around the world.

This threat has traditionally been countered by the construction of ‘hard defenses’ such as concrete walls. This solution often proves to be expensive, inflexible, and of limited value to local biodiversity. Modern coastal management practices now recognize the need to integrate man-made engineering solutions with natural ecosystems, or ’soft-defenses.’ Consequently, across the world, many coastal (sand dunes, salt marshes, mangroves) habitats are now recognized for their important contribution to flood defense.

Only recently have ecologists begun to examine how these ecosystems will respond to and recover from prolonged seawater immersion. In light of their crucial role in soft infrastructure, it is imperative that scientists strive to understand how coastal plants and vegetation respond to the saltwater flood risk associated with rising sea levels and storm surges.

Tiffany D. Lum – a Masters student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI – will present her research on salinity tolerance in a coastal plant species and how it affects plant reproduction resilience. Because plant population persistence depends on successful seedling recruitment, seedling survival to maturity, and reproduction, it is important to know how increased salinity will influence each of these processes.

Jacquemontia sandwicensis (Convolvulaceae) – a widespread and abundant native coastal plant species in Hawaii. Photo courtesy of wikicommons.

Lum and her advisor Kasey E. Barton sought to quantify salinity tolerance in a widespread and abundant native coastal plant species: Jacquemontia sandwicensis (Convolvulaceae). They wanted to identify mechanisms underlying the overall tolerance across the plant’s lifecycle and through each developmental stage.

The plants were exposed to three weeks of salinity watering treatments at the seed, seedling, juvenile, and mature ontogenetic stages. Tolerance was quantified as the performance and fitness under salinity treatment; for example, higher photosynthetic rates and higher total mass in comparison to control groups. They found that the plants do exhibit some trait plasticity to avoid salinity stress in the short term, useful at early life stages. However, a delayed onset of flowering and fewer produced seeds suggest that salinity exposure at different life stages may threaten the resilience of this species in light of future sea level rise and storm surges.

The talk is part of a session about optimizing management of coastal ecosystems in the face of climate-driven threats. This session consists of 10 presentations, including the selections below:


OOS 21-3 – Ontogenetic shifts in salinity stress response in Hawaiian coastal species

  • Wednesday, August 8, 2018: 2:10 PM
  • 343, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
  • Tiffany D. Lum and Kasey E. Barton, University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • Presentation abstract

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2018 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana
Extreme events, ecosystem resilience and human well-being
5–10 August 2018

Ecologists from 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories, and countries around the world will converge on New Orleans, Louisiana this August for the 103nd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Up to 4,000 attendees are expected to gather for thousands of scientific presentations on breaking research and new ecological concepts at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on August 5 – 10, 2018.

ESA invites press and institutional public information officers to attend for free. To apply, please contact ESA Public Information Manager Zoe Gentes directly at zgentes@esa.org. Walk-in registration will be available during the meeting.

###

The Ecological Society of America (ESA), founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in the science of ecology. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.

Using tree-fall patterns to calculate tornado wind speed

103rd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America: 
Extreme events, ecosystem resilience and human well-being
5–10 August 2018

 

June 22, 2018
For Immediate Release

Contact: Zoe Gentes, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, zgentes@esa.org

Tornadoes, hurricanes, and other extreme windstorm events cause millions of dollars in structural damage and related losses each year. They can also significantly damage ecosystems systems, driving efforts to study resilience in the face of these events. For any resilience study involving severe wind storms, an accurate estimate of wind speed is an essential. The initial damage inflicted on trees (or any ecosystem) changes for different wind speeds. These are difficult to ascertain, both in-situ or by radar measurements, during a severe windstorm event. A promising method using tree-fall patterns (i.e., the falling direction of trees) has been developed to estimate these speeds.

Tornado wind speed can be estimated by simulating a tornado using the Rankine Vortex model. The trees are assumed to fall if the wind speed generated by the tornado is greater than the critical wind speed of tree-fall, which creates distinctive tree-fall pattern. The critical wind speed of the tree-fall correlates with the thickness and height of the trees. Researchers ultimately try to simulate a pattern that closely matches the real life tornado tree-fall pattern.

Daniel M. Rhee, a PhD student at University of Illinois specializing in Structures in Civil Engineering, focuses his research on modeling tornadoes and near-surface wind speeds using tree-fall and damage patterns. With this method, Rhee and his research advisor, Franklin T. Lombardo, estimated the near-surface wind speeds of an actual tornado event in Naplate, IL. Rhee will present this research at the Ecological Society of America’s 2018 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA.

Lombardo (left) and Rhee (right) investigating trees and residential debris after a tornado tore through central Illinois in February 2017. Photo credit: Justin Nevill.

Tornadoes are rated by their intensity and the damage they cause to vegetation and structures. The Enhanced Fujita scale (EF-Scale) is a tornado scale that was originally introduced in 1971 (and later updated) by Tetsuya Fujita and Allen Pearson. Fujita researched windstorm destruction and also used tree-fall patterns to estimate near-surface wind speeds.

In the Naplate event, a number of fallen and standing trees were sampled and their thickness and height were documented. Rhee then estimated a maximum wind speed corresponding to an EF-2 tornado (113-157 mph). The result was compared to wind speed estimated from residential houses and other damaged infrastructure such as street signs. He also applied other methods such as estimating EF rating based on the tree-fallen percentage for comparison. An EF-2 tornado inflicts “major damage” including blowing roofs off homes, damaging small structures, and snapping or uprooting large trees.

Scientists from the Wind Engineering Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois in Ottowa, Illinois, 2017. Photo credit: Justin Nevill.

Rhee has an MS and BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois. Rhee has also applied this tree-fall method to crops damaged in both residential and agricultural areas struck by tornadoes.

Rhee’s talk is part of a session on the Ecological Impacts of Tornados on Eastern Deciduous Forest: Short- and Long-Term Case Studies from the Eastern United States. This session consists of 10 presentations, including the selections below:


OOS 12-1 – Identification and characterization of wind storm events using tree-fall patterns

  • Tuesday, August 7, 2018: 1:30 PM
  • 343, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
  • Daniel Rhee, University of Illinois
  • Presentation abstract

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2018 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana

Extreme events, ecosystem resilience and human well-being

5–10 August 2018

 

Ecologists from 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories, and countries around the world will converge on New Orleans, Louisiana this August for the 103nd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Up to 4,000 attendees are expected to gather for thousands of scientific presentations on breaking research and new ecological concepts at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on August 5 – 10, 2018.

ESA invites press and institutional public information officers to attend for free. To apply, please contact ESA Public Information Manager Zoe Gentes directly at zgentes@esa.org. Walk-in registration will be available during the meeting.

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The Ecological Society of America (ESA), founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in the science of ecology. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.

ESA announces the recipients of the 2017 Student Awards

Awards recognize students for exceptional research and outstanding presentations at the 2017 Annual Meeting

June 19, 2018
For Immediate Release

Contact: Zoe Gentes, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, zgentes@esa.org

The Ecological Society of America recognizes Michael T. Kohl, Benjamin J. Wilson, and Emily E. Ernst for awards for outstanding student research. The Murray F. Buell and E. Lucy Braun awards are given for exceptional presentations at the 102nd Annual Meeting of the Society in Portland, Oregon in August 2017. The Forest Shreve Research Fund award supports graduate or undergraduate student ecological research in the hot deserts of North America. 

 

2017 Buell Award winner Michel T. Kohl. Photo courtesy of Kohl.

Murray F. Buell Award: Michel T. Kohl

Murray F. Buell had a long and distinguished record of service and accomplishment in the Ecological Society of America. Among other things, he ascribed great importance to the participation of students in meetings and to excellence in the presentation of papers. To honor his selfless dedication to the younger generation of ecologists, the Murray F. Buell Award for Excellence in Ecology is given to a student for the outstanding oral paper presented at the ESA Annual Meeting.

Award panel members honored Michel T. Kohl with the 2017 Murray F. Buell award. Kohl is now a postdoctoral fellow in the Jack H. Berryman Institute at Utah State University after receiving his PhD this past year. His oral paper investigated whether elk in Yellowstone National park selected their habitat based on the activity schedules and space use of their predators, cougars and wolves. He found that elk frequented open areas at night when wolves were not as active, but selected forested areas in the day when cougars were not as active. Together, this allowed elk to avoid both predators simultaneously while still providing access to high quality forage. Judges were impressed my Michel’s thorough background information, his compelling analyses, and great answers to post-presentation questions.

2017 Buell Honorable Mention Hayley R. Tumas. Photo courtesy of Tumas.

A Buell award honorable mention is awarded to Hayley R. Tumas, who received her PhD last month at the University of Georgia. Tumas used microsatellite markers to investigate genetic diversity and population connectivity in Juncus roemerianus, a dominant foundational plant species in Gulf coast salt marshes. Her results could inform coastal restoration and management to conserve natural levels of diversity in Juncus populations. Judges enjoyed her clear and engaging style, her careful pacing, and her thorough knowledge of the study ecosystem.

 

Lucy Braun Award: Benjamin J. Wilson

2017 Braun Award winner Benjamin J. Wilson in the wetland field. Photo courtesy of Wilson.

Lucy Braun, an eminent plant ecologist and one of the charter members of the Society, studied and mapped the deciduous forest regions of eastern North America and described them in her classic book, The Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America. To honor her, the E. Lucy Braun Award for Excellence in Ecology is given to a student for the outstanding poster presentation at the ESA Annual Meeting. Papers and posters are judged on the significance of ideas, creativity, quality of methodology, validity of conclusions drawn from results, and clarity of presentation.

The 2017 E. Lucy Braun award was won by Benjamin J. Wilson, a postdoctoral researcher at Florida International University, who recently defended his dissertation entitled, “Drivers and Mechanisms of Peat Collapse in Coastal Wetlands.” Wilson’s poster presented research findings centered around exploring if the negative impacts of saltwater intrusion in the Everglades could be offset by the increase in phosphorus load that accompanies such events. He found that gross and net ecosystem productivity both increased with saltwater influx, possibly due to the associated increases in phosphorus. However, salt negatively impacted root growth and led to an overall decrease in elevation. Judges were impressed by Benjamin’s clear explanations, great visualizations, and careful execution of his experiments.

 

2017 Forest Shreve Research Award winner Emily E. Ernst. Photo courtesy of Ernst.

Forest Shreve Research Award: Emily E. Ernst

Dr. Shreve was an internationally known American botanist devoted to the study of the distribution of vegetation as determined by soil and climate conditions, with a focus on desert vegetation. The Forest Shreve award supplies $1,000-2,000 to support ecological research by graduate or undergraduate student members of ESA in the hot deserts of North America (Sonora, Mohave, Chihuahua, and Vizcaino). 

ESA awards Emily E. Ernst with the Forest Shreve Research award. Ernst is a PhD candidate studying Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Iowa State University working under the mentorship of Dr. Kirk Moloney. She is studying two problematic exotic grasses of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, Schismus arabicus and Bromus rubens, and how the microhabitats beneath creosote bush may affect the distributions of these invaders. She is also investigating how their invasion may affect the pathways for potential desert fires to spread. She will use her award to better characterize microhabitat soil nutrient and water availability. 

 

2018 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana
5–10 August 2018

Ecologists from 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories, and countries around the world will converge on New Orleans, Louisiana this August for the 103nd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Up to 4,000 attendees are expected to gather for thousands of scientific presentations on breaking research and new ecological concepts at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on August 5th through 10th, 2018.

ESA invites press and institutional public information officers to attend for free. To apply, please contact ESA Public Information Manager Zoe Gentes directly at zgentes@esa.org. Walk-in registration will be available during the meeting.

 

 

 

 

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The Ecological Society of America (ESA), founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in ecological science. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.

103rd Annual Meeting: Preview and Highlights

Extreme Events, Ecosystem Resilience and Human Well-being

June 12, 2018
For Immediate Release

Contact: Zoe Gentes, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, zgentes@esa.org

Extreme events – such as heat waves, droughts, floods, fires and storms – are made worse by human activities. For example, past civilizations, such as the Maya and Mesopotamians, apparently exacerbated the droughts that caused their demise through deforestation and agricultural practices similar to our own. These events challenge populations, communities, and ecosystems, as well as our human health and living conditions. The ability of ecosystems to respond depends on how resilient they are, a characteristic also undermined by land-use practices that increase effects of extreme conditions. Clearly, the sustainability of ecosystem services – the benefits that people derive from nature and natural capital – and human well-being depends on ecosystem resilience to extreme events. The following selected sessions and events at the Annual Meeting delve into this year’s meeting theme.

 

Organized Oral Sessions

Pastoralism in the 21st Century: Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Adaptations (OOS 4)

Monday, August 6: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM; Room 344

Pastoralism (the practice of raising of livestock) occupies 30% of Earth’s land area and contributes to the livelihoods of 2 billion people. Pastoral systems typically exist on lands characterized by scarce and varying resources– conditions that are likely to be intensified by warmer temperatures and altered precipitation associated with climate change. The session will discuss climate change as the ‘breaking point’ for the pastoral lifestyle, fundamental plant resource responses to climate change, strategies that are being employed to adapt to climate change, and how previous pastoral activities have impacted current and future sustainability.

 

Ecophysiology of Drought Resilience and Recovery (OOS 16)

Wednesday, August 8: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM; Room 346-347

Drought events present opportunities to study how plants respond to and recover from climate extremes. A key to forecasting these dynamic effects on plant communities is understanding their mechanistic (physical) responses to both sustained and sudden or severe stressors. However, major uncertainties remain in how and when plants may experience reversible versus irreversible shifts in resilience. This session seeks a better understanding of drought constraints on future terrestrial ecosystems. Topics include technology and methods, drought ecophysiology, hydraulic safety, phloem transport, photosynthesis gain versus hydraulic risk, tree-ring based mortality warning signals, and plant water uptake.

 

Symposia

Exploring Links between Cities and Surrounding Landscapes: Can Cities Enhance Regional Resilience and Biodiversity in an Era of Climate Change and Extreme Events? (SYMP 6)

Tuesday, August 7: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM; Room 350-351

The ecological and evolutionary dynamics – as well as conservation, planning, and stewardship activities – that occur in cities can influence biodiversity in the surrounding ecosystems. This discussion will address how unique conditions in cities may bolster regional resilience and facilitate recovery from extreme events. It will address five main themes: urban evolutionary dynamics and adaptation, population dynamics, landscape heterogeneity, socio-ecological linkages, and ecological design and planning. Topics include biodiversity and ecological resilience in Silicon Valley, urban green spaces, gene flow in urban infrastructure and socioeconomics, environmental stewardship practices and networks, and modeling extreme event scenarios in US and Latin Cities.

 

Advancing Coastal Ecological Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation (SYMP 15)

Thursday, August 9: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM; Room 350-351

Coastal areas are increasingly vulnerable to climate change impacts of storm surge flooding, erosion, and sea level rise. There is demand for new strategies for greater climate resilience and coastal process management amidst new urban development in low-lying coastal areas. Advancing the resiliency and stewardship of these areas requires critical involvement from ecologists and extensive research into design and planning. Coastal cities and towns like New Orleans, with their heavily populated, low-lying waterfront settlements, are ideal sites for exploring climate change adaptation strategies that incorporate management for wetland hydrology, deposition, and erosion and other critical functions. This symposium brings together an interdisciplinary group of coastal and wetland ecologists, land planners, and landscape architectsto discuss the strategies and challenges of land development for climate change adaptation of coastal systems.

 

Field Trips

How is Ecological Understanding Informing Protected Area Management in the Rapidly Subsiding Freshwater Wetland Landscape of the Mississippi Delta? (FT 5)

Sunday, August 5: 8:00 AM-4:30 PM; Lobby E, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

Expert ecologists will provide an orientation to this New Orleans’ major river delta landscape, its geological and human management history, and the major challenges in protecting and conserving essential ecological and environmental values in these predominantly freshwater coastal wetland ecosystems. Following an introduction at the Barataria Preserve Visitor Center, the trip will visit the estuarine edge of the Preserve via swamp tour boat. Participants may be able to get out onto a floating peat marsh and (later) walk to the edge of a bald cypress swamp. After lunch at a picnic area on the natural levee ridge of the Mississippi River distributary, the trip will explore bottomland hardwood forests growing on higher elevation terrain and bald cypress swamps inhabiting natural levee backslopes. Ecologists with long-term research programs in the park will lead these trail walks. In addition to enjoying these lush wetland ecosystems and their abundant biota, the trip will visit one of the park’s elevation and hydrology dynamics monitoring stations, and will learn about other ongoing research and monitoring programs.

 

Green Infrastructure and Extreme Events in the New Orleans Urban Ecosystem (FT 6)

Monday, August 6: 8:35 AM-12:30 PM; Lobby E, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

Since its founding 300 years ago, New Orleans has constantly negotiated its relationship to water through the use of pumps, canals, and levees – grey and blue infrastructure that work to move rain and floodwater out of the city’s unique topography. Since the catastrophic flooding during 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, city officials have slowly begun designing and implementing large-scale green infrastructure projects. These initiatives are intended to capture precipitation during intense rainfall, relieving pressure on the city’s aging and problem-prone municipal drainage system. Retaining water on the landscape may also decrease soil subsidence, a critical problem for a city that is largely below sea level. Further, these interventions are slated for implementation on large tracts of vacant urban land, abandoned in Katrina’s aftermath. Public health concerns over mosquitos, rodents, and invasive vegetation represent serious challenges in the design and maintenance of the projects. This fieldtrip brings ESA members to multiple urban sites where major green infrastructure projects have been implemented or are under construction. Led by local urban ecologists engaged in the design and monitoring of the projects, participants will also meet with city officials and project designers working toward an understanding of the promise and limits of green infrastructure in a city known for its water management dilemmas.

 

Special Sessions

Two Sides of the Coin: Conversations on Resilience between Planners, Designers, and Ecologists in Louisiana (SS 20)

Monday, August 6: 10:15 AM-11:30 AM; Room 346-347

This Louisiana-centric special session will discuss the difficult questions about how ecosystem services can be delivered at the scales of the region/watershed, the city, and the site of the state’s coasts. Researchers and policy-makers or managers can sometimes talk past one another due to the different goals, timeframes, and terminology across practice and research. This session is designed to straddle these divides and provide a space to compare and contrast experiences working on urban development projects and to discuss potential integration. Examples from coastal Louisiana will not only serve as focal points of conversation but also demonstrate the national relevance of key challenges in this area at regional, city, and site scales.

 

Inspire Sessions

The Role of Ecologists in Disaster Management (INS 20)

Wednesday, August 8: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM; Room 244

Ecological communities are often structured by the variability and predictability of key environmental drivers. Although disturbance regimes (extreme events that disturb the ecosystem) are key subjects for nearly every ecological sub-discipline, ecologists tend to play an indirect role in the management of natural hazards and disasters. It is unsurprising that ecological study is of secondary priority in the immediate aftermath of life-threatening disasters; yet, failure to learn from exceptional events may subject communities to greater risks from future occurrences. This session explores the current and potential roles of ecological knowledge in response to a diversity of natural disturbances (e.g., flood, fire, drought). Case studies are presented from investigators working in ecologically, geographically, and socio-politically diverse systems to create contrast in the approaches and experiences of disaster management. 

 

2018 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana
5–10 August 2018

Ecologists from 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories, and countries around the world will converge on New Orleans, Louisiana this August for the 103nd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Up to 4,000 attendees are expected to gather for thousands of scientific presentations on breaking research and new ecological concepts at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center  August 5th – 10th, 2018.

ESA invites press and institutional public information officers to attend for free. To apply, please contact ESA Public Information Manager Zoe Gentes directly at zgentes@esa.org. Walk-in registration will be available during the meeting.

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The Ecological Society of America (ESA), founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in the science of ecology. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.