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.

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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.

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.

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.

###

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.

 

Ecological Society of America announces 2018 award recipients

ESA LogoFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, 16 March 2018
Contact: Liza Lester, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, LLester@esa.org

 

 

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) will present the 2018 awards recognizing outstanding contributions to ecology in new discoveries, teaching, sustainability, diversity, and lifelong commitment to the profession during the Society’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans, La. The awards ceremony will take place during the Scientific Plenary on Monday, August 6, at 8 AM in the La Nouvelle Orleans Ballroom, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Learn more about ESA awards on our home website.

 

Eminent Ecologist Award: F. Stuart Chapin III

The Eminent Ecologist Award honors a senior ecologist for an outstanding body of ecological work or sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit.

F. Stuart Chapin III, professor emeritus of ecology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, transformed our understanding of terrestrial ecosystems over his 50-year career. He has been an intellectual leader in tackling questions about how humans shape ecosystems and how human well-being depends on those ecosystems, driving projects on sustainability for communities in Alaska, and engaging these communities to seek solutions to declining livelihoods caused by climate change. He has also been an international leader in developing solutions to our many environmental challenges.

His early work linked plant physiology to nutrient limitation and allocation in plants, demonstrating how these processes affect nutrient cycling in ecosystems and shape the types of plant defenses deployed against herbivores. He synthesized diverse ideas into a working model for the feedbacks between ecosystem functioning and plant growth and defense strategies, showing how these physiological processes can drive broad ecosystem processes at both local and global scales. Through a lifetime of study in tundra ecosystems, he broke ground in research into the influence of elevated carbon dioxide on boreal ecosystems, demonstrating critical feedbacks between vegetation changes and climate dynamics. His work on the dynamics of plant succession at Glacier Bay, Alaska, is a classic of the ecological literature.

Chapin has served the scientific community as a past president of the Ecological Society of America and on many editorial boards. He directed the Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research site and the Resilience and Adaptation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, and served on advisory boards for numerous government and scientific organizations, particularly on issues of climate policy. He has been praised as strong mentor and advisor to students, friends, and colleagues throughout his career—generous with his time, ideas, and encouragement in support of great science.

 

MacArthur Award: Katharine N. Suding

The Robert H. MacArthur Award honors an established ecologist in mid-career for meritorious contributions to ecology, in the expectation of continued outstanding ecological research. Award winners generally are within 25 years from the completion of their PhD.

Katharine Suding, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, is a leader in community ecology. She applies empirical and theoretical approaches to address fundamental and applied problems faced by ecological communities in today’s changing world. She has impacted the field of ecology not only through her numerous publications, but also through the students and postdocs she has mentored, and through her leadership in interdisciplinary collaborations.

Suding’s work in grassland ecosystems demonstrated how species’ traits affect the persistence and abundance of species in response to environmental stressors, many of which are related to human activities such as nitrogen deposition, grazing, and changes in rainfall. Her work in alpine systems has revealed the mechanisms by which alpine communities respond to climate change, particularly the role of plant-soil feedbacks. Her research focuses on community assembly and response to environmental perturbations, and the implications for restoration and management. She has taken many leadership roles in interdisciplinary collaborations to investigate patterns and processes within and among ecosystems. She addresses both fundamental and applied problems in ecology, using empirical and theoretical approaches to understand how communities work.

Suding received her PhD from the University of Michigan in 1999. She has since mentored many graduate students and postdocs who now have successful careers in academic institutions, and in agencies and NGOs doing practical work in restoration and landscape management. She has contributed to over 120 articles and co-edited two books, and has been an active leader in the National Science Foundation’s-Long Term Ecological Research network. She has spread the curiosity that feeds her own research to students and collaborators, emphasizing the need to combine basic and applied research in our changing world.

 

Distinguished Service Citation: Scott L. Collins

The Distinguished Service Citation recognizes long and distinguished volunteer service to ESA, the scientific community, and the larger purpose of ecology in the public welfare.

Scott Collins, distinguished professor of biology at the University of New Mexico, has brought extraordinary vision and leadership to advancing the science of ecology, to developing and communicating the need for long-term and broad-scale research infrastructure that enables advancement of ecological knowledge, to the education of young ecologists, and to the Ecological Society of America. He has long recognized the importance of scientists’ active participation in their professional communities, which is well illustrated by decades of service to the ESA and the broader scientific community.

Collins has served in nearly all possible roles within the Society, including vice president of Public Affairs and ESA president in 2013. He served on the editorial boards of two of the Society’s journals, Ecosphere and Ecology, and has chaired or has been a member of eight committees and sections. During his tenure as chair of the Publications Committee, he led two intensive editor-in-chief reviews. He cares deeply about training the next generation of ecologists and has been very active in ESA’s Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS) program for undergraduates.

Scott has served the broader ecological community for more than 25 years as a faculty member, educator and mentor, and leader within the scientific community. He teaches both undergrad and graduate student classes at the University of New Mexico and actively promotes research activities for students through his leadership role in a National Science Foundation-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program and in SEEDS. While a program officer at the National Science Foundation, he was instrumental in developing and supporting many large-scale ecological initiatives, including the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), the Long Term Ecological Research program, the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), and the Integrated Research Challenges.

As a researcher, Collins helped transform the field of community ecology by identifying the mechanisms that control species diversity in grasslands. The framework he developed to explain the effects of disturbance on plant communities is a significant contribution to ecological theory.

Collins has dedicated significant amounts of time to engaging with national policy makers and federal agency personnel. In his briefings to Congress, he has emphasized the importance of long-term and broad-scale ecological research, long-term data sets, and research infrastructure needs for the biological and environmental sciences.

 

Eugene P. Odum Award for Excellence in Ecology Education: Diane Ebert-May

Odum Award recipients demonstrate their ability to relate basic ecological principles to human affairs through teaching, outreach, and mentoring activities. 

Diane Ebert-May is a true pioneer in ecology education. For decades, she has encouraged ecologists to develop their teaching based on the principles developed through pedagogical research that reveal the best practices to facilitate student learning of complex ideas in science. Her development program, Faculty Institutes for Reforming Science Teaching (FIRST), introduces young faculty and postdoctoral fellows to evidence-based teaching practices early in their careers, while collecting data on the effectiveness of these practices as they are implemented. This innovative faculty development program has received multiple rounds of funding from the National Science Foundation and trained hundreds of today’s ecology faculty. Many of the techniques promoted by FIRST are now routine in ecological classrooms.

Ebert-May’s substantial body of published work on teaching and assessment methods helped legitimize educational research as a valid pursuit in the discipline of ecology. She has inspired ecological educators through her publications on science pedagogy, her leadership of the Education Section of the ESA, and her energetic and passionate presentations. Ebert-May practices what she preaches, teaching with engaging, inquiry-based, active-learning techniques that inspire students to think, ask questions of the material, form hypotheses, make connections, and become scientists.

 

Commitment to Human Diversity in Ecology Award: Zakiya Holmes Leggett

ESA’s Commitment to Human Diversity in Ecology award recognizes long-standing contributions of an individual towards increasing the diversity of future ecologists through mentoring, teaching, or outreach.

Zakiya Holmes Leggett, assistant professor of forestry and environment at North Carolina State University, has been proactive throughout her career in mentoring and recruiting students from diverse ethnic backgrounds into the field of ecology. As a vanguard for African American women in soil and forest ecology and sustainability studies, she is a notable mentor for student populations that are significantly underrepresented in the field.

Leggett participated in one of the first cohorts of ESA’s SEEDS program as a student at Tuskegee University. She has remained actively involved with SEEDS as a mentor and member of the Advisory Board, helping to grow this diversity program at ESA in the last 16 years, and is active on the Advisory Board of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Tuskegee.

She serves as NCSU’s campus director for the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars (DDCS) Program,  which trains undergraduate students that are interested in research experiences in conservation issues as well as encouraging human diversity in those fields. She has been equally as involved in helping career development programs for minority students in the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) professional society. In a short time, her ability to recruit minority students into the workforce, in non-academic research positions and for academic graduate programs, has made an impact in enhancing human diversity of ecologists throughout the United States.

During her decade as a sustainability scientist at the Weyerhaeuser Company, she involved students from diverse ethnic backgrounds in her work designing and executing multidisciplinary research studies to address environmental sustainability for a global forest products company. She continues this mentoring work as an invited speaker at schools, national conferences, and universities, sharing her passion for environmental education and stewardship.

 

Robert H. Whittaker Distinguished Ecologist Award: David B. Lindenmayer

The Whittaker Award recognizes an ecologist with an earned doctorate and an outstanding record of contributions in ecology who is not a U.S. citizen and who resides outside the United States.

David Lindenmayer, Australian Research Council Laureate Professor at the Australian National University in Canberra, is a world leader in landscape-scale conservation ecology, contributing significantly to the understanding of biodiversity both within Australia and around the world. He specializes in establishing large-scale, long-term research programs that are underpinned by rigorous experimental design, detailed sampling, and innovative statistical analyses. He is a prodigious author of more than 650 scientific, peer-reviewed publications, 111 book chapters, and 44 scholarly books, including 5 well-known textbooks. His work has been influential in developing ways to conserve biodiversity across a range of wild and urban landscapes, including reserves, national parks, wood production forests, and farmland.

 

W.S. Cooper Award: Jonas J. Lembrechts, Aníbal Pauchard, Jonathan Lenoir, Martin A. Nuñez, Charly Géron, Arne Ven, Pablo Bravo-Monasterio, Ernesto Teneb, Ivan  Nijs, and Ann Milbau.

The Cooper Award honors the authors of an outstanding publication in the field of geobotany, physiographic ecology, plant succession or the distribution of plants along environmental gradients. William S. Cooper was a pioneer of physiographic ecology and geobotany, with a particular interest in the influence of historical factors, such as glaciations and climate history, on the pattern of contemporary plant communities across landforms.

Cold places are notable for their comparative lack of non-native plants. But figuring out why this is the case is difficult given that high-elevation and high-latitude habitats tend to be not only cold, but also relatively undisturbed, remote, and nutrient-poor. In an ambitious set of experiments, Jonas Lembrechts and colleagues experimentally manipulated disturbance, nutrients, and seed input along elevational gradients in southern South America and northern Scandinavia. They found that disturbance had the strongest effect at all sites, allowing non-native species to establish well above their current elevational limits. The results have clear implications for the future of cold-climate ecosystems affected by warming and increased rates of disturbance.

 

George Mercer Award: Rachel M. Germain, Sharon Y. Strauss and Benjamin Gilbert

The Mercer Award recognizes an outstanding, recently-published, ecological research paper by young scientists.

Rachel Germain, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia, and colleagues evaluated how dispersal limitation and environmental filtering influence local-scale diversity across a range of spatial scales. Using a clever experimental approach adopted from restoration ecology, they vacuumed seeds off field plots and used the collected seeds to create homogenous propagule pools across a range of scales. They found a striking effect of dispersal limitation: local communities harbored roughly half as many species as they could in the absence of dispersal limitation. Their findings advance the understanding of a fundamental ecological problem and give insight into how to better manage biodiversity in a global biodiversity hotspot.

 

Sustainability Science Award: Seema Jayachandran, Joost de Laat, Eric F. Lambin, Charlotte Y. Stanton, Robin Audy, Nancy E. Thomas

The Sustainability Science Award recognizes the authors of the scholarly work that makes the greatest contribution to the emerging science of ecosystem and regional sustainability through the integration of ecological and social sciences.

Many international programs seek to motivate landowners to change their behavior and take up practices that would reduce land degradation and offset carbon emissions. The award-winning study by Seema Jayachandran and colleagues is notable for its methodology, which avoided several of the pitfalls that have limited the reliability of prior efforts to assess the value of payments for ecosystem services (PES) to motivate landowners.

The authors applied the ‘gold standard’ of experimental research to sustainability science by randomly assigning 121 Ugandan villages to groups that did or did not receive PES to motivate changing forestry practice. They monitored results using high-quality remote sensing data, and demonstrated that PES groups reduced deforestation to half that of the control group. The research demonstrates the value of interdisciplinary collaboration in evaluating questions in sustainability science. It relies on the expertise of economists, remote sensing specialists, and a local NGO, which led the project. The government of Uganda and international organizations also played important roles in identifying participating villages and assuring compliance. The study represents a major step forward in the evaluation of PES for global conservation interventions.

  • Jayachandran, S., J. de Laat, E. Lambin, C. Stanton, R. Audy and N. Thomas. Cash for Carbon: A randomized trial of payments for ecosystem services to reduce deforestation. Science 357: 267-273.

 

Innovation in Sustainability Science Award: Laura E. Dee, Michel De Lara, Christopher Costello, Steven D. Gaines

The Innovation in Sustainability Science Award recognizes the authors of a peer-reviewed paper published in the past five years exemplifying leading-edge work on solution pathways to sustainability challenges.

Many conservation organizations have shifted their stated objectives from preserving biodiversity to protecting nature for the benefits it provides to society—known as ecosystem services. Laura Dee and colleagues addressed the question, if conservation decisions were based solely on optimizing ecosystem services, how much protection of biodiversity could arise? Although biodiversity contributes to ecosystem services, the details of which species are critical, and whether they will be lost in the future, are fraught with uncertainty. Explicitly considering this uncertainty, they integrated ecology and economics to develop a new theoretical framework that addresses this question. They found that protecting more species than are presumed critical is optimal due to uncertainty, and define conditions when the optimal protection strategy is to protect all species, no species, and cases in between. Their analysis provides criteria to evaluate when managing for particular ecosystem services could warrant protecting all species, given uncertainty. Evaluating this criterion with empirical estimates from different ecosystems suggests that optimizing some services will be more likely to protect most species than others. Therefore, these results also define when managing for ecosystem services alone could leave significant biodiversity unprotected, and other strategies will be needed to also preserve biodiversity.

 

Learn more about the August 7–12, 2017 ESA Annual Meeting on the meeting website: http://esa.org/neworleans/

 

ESA welcomes attendance from members of the press and waives registration fees for reporters and public information officers. To apply, please contact ESA Communications Officer Liza Lester directly at llester@esa.org.

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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.

Sustainable Northwest receives environmental offsets from the Ecological Society of America

2017 Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America:
Linking biodiversity, material cycling and ecosystem services in a changing world
6–11 August 2017

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, 8 August 2017
Contact: Liza Lester, 206-553-9964, LLester@esa.org

 

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Ecological Society of America (ESA) will donate over $22,000 to local non-profit Sustainable Northwest’s Forest Program, to offset the environmental costs of travel to the society’s Annual Meeting, held this year in Portland, Oregon, on August 6th through 11th, 2017. More than 4,500 environmental researchers, students, educators, managers, practitioners, and policy makers traveled from across the United States and the globe this week to discuss the latest in ecological knowledge. 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 celebrate.

To offset environmental costs associated with the Annual Meeting, the ESA contributes $5 for every meeting registrant to a local organization in the city in which the conference meets. Portland-based Sustainable Northwest has taken on a challenging role of bringing together disparate interests to form solutions to natural resource issues at the nexus of the environment, the economy, and the community.

“Sustainable Northwest strives to work across the aisle with folks who might have been in opposing conservation corners in the past, to create successful collaborative and community-oriented restoration projects on forested lands,” said Marion Dresner, a professor at Portland State University. As the local host chair for the 2017 meeting, Dresner nominated the organization to receive the offsets fund.

Looking towards Arch Cape, Oregon from Ecola State Park, large clear cuts are visible on the hillside above town. This year’s offset donation for travel to the Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting in Portland will be awarded directly to the Forest Program to support the Arch Cape and Rockaway Beach Pilot Projects, both community-driven efforts to acquire and manage the local drinking water source for the coastal towns. Credit, Sustainable Northwest.

Over the last twenty years, Sustainable Northwest has pioneered solutions to some of the most vexing natural resources management challenges in the American West. The organization was instrumental in negotiating the Klamath River Agreements, the largest headwaters-to-sea restoration project in the nation. It is responsible for establishing the Western Juniper Alliance, which brought together ranchers, conservationists, and public land managers to restore rangeland for sage grouse, by creating markets for western juniper wood, a restoration by-product.

This year’s offset donation will be awarded directly to the Forest Program to support the Arch Cape and Rockaway Beach Pilot Projects, both community-driven efforts to acquire and manage the local drinking water source for the coastal towns.

“Drinking water source areas on Oregon’s coast are primarily managed for timber values, resulting in communities that face significant challenges securing safe, clean drinking water,” said Forest Program Director Andrew Spaeth. In the town of Arch Cape, there are 150 permanent and 900 seasonal residents whom rely on a water source that under industrial ownership, has been clear cut and sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. Rockaway Beach, a small town of 1500 just south of Arch Cape on the Oregon coast, has experienced similar issues.

“These communities approached Sustainable Northwest asking for help,” Spaeth said. “With the support of the ESA, we will develop a locally-supported governance framework that ensures community engagement in management decisions and develop a forest and conservation management plan that will improve species diversity and stocking levels over time. Creating community-owned forests ensures permanent protection of conservation values and management activities that will directly serve the local people.”

Sustainable Northwest has recently executed a Memorandum of Understanding to support the acquisition and management of an approximately 1250-acre drinking water source area for Arch Cape. Spaeth explained that securing tenure of forestlands increases the amount of carbon sequestered through improved forest management practices, amid a host of other benefits. “Local ownership of the forested drinking water source areas will improve the quality of water supplied by the forest, enhance wildlife habitat connectivity to adjacent public lands, create locally-based restoration jobs, and increase watershed resilience in the face of a changing climate.”

“It’s a unique project that brings together critical issues — public health, rural economic development, and climate change — and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of ESA!”


 

2017 ESA Annual Meeting in Portland Oregon
6–11 August 2017
Oregon Convention Center

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


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 10,000 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.