2023 Improvements for the Annual Meeting Program

By Tim Nuttle, 2023 Program Chair

In 2022, the Meetings Committee recommended changes for the ESA Annual Meeting program to adapt and meet attendees’ needs. The Governing Board approved these changes to go into effect for this year’s meeting in Portland.

The goal: To accommodate as many presentation submissions as possible across the range of professional ecological practice.

You can attend this Q&A with Tim on January 19 for in-depth explanations and a chance to ask live questions.

We are again providing funding support — learn more.

When making decisions, the Meetings Committee aims to design a valuable meeting experience for all; it takes into consideration member and staff experience, attendee feedback, trends in attendance, trends in submission and rejection rates, trends within the profession, and many other sources of data.

Here is an overview of new practices attendees that begin this year and go to the meeting website for more information.

More Scheduling Options Than Ever

Due to increased recent demand for workshops and special sessions, and attendee requests for more ability to attend them, the committee opted to include workshops and special sessions during all parts of the meeting schedule that include scientific presentations (other than Opening and Scientific plenaries).

Hybrid Invited Sessions

  • Up to three hybrid invited sessions rooms will run concurrent within the schedule for a total of 42 sessions.
  • Hybrid sessions will include a mixture of speakers who present in person in the session room in Portland and speakers who present remotely through Zoom from any location.
  • Hybrid sessions will take place in a room with professional A/V staff and equipment to allow remote presentations and remote participation by attendees.
  • All presentations in hybrid sessions will be livestreamed through the meeting website so that registered attendees can watch the session online as it happens.

New Contributed Abstract Submission Guidelines

To better include non-research topics, and to allow for greater flexibility in content and formatting, abstracts submissions:

  • Are now a single section, rather than two; content may be formatted as the submitter wishes
  • It is still limited to 400 words
  • Must report on specific knowledge, but that knowledge may be quantitative, qualitative, or conceptual
  • Option for a formal appeal process if the abstract is rejection (Guidelines on the submission page explain this in greater depth.)

Abstract submitters will select a format preference when submitting. What this means:

  • Submitters for contributed (NOT invited) abstracts can indicate a preference for a talk, poster, or no preference.
  • The Program Committee will strive to honor as many requests for talks as possible, physical meeting room space permitting.
  • Some accepted abstracts with a preference for talks will only be offered a poster presentation instead.** (More info below)
  • Senior ecologists are encouraged to select the poster option to give students and early career ecologists a higher chance of being selected for a talk.

 The abstract fee structure updates are below, but the opt-out option is unchanged:

  • All submitted abstracts have a $60 fee (posters previously exempt); for students, it is $35.
  • Any submitter may opt out of paying the abstract fee, no questions asked.
  • Refunds are available for accepted presenters who cancel before the May 1 deadline.

Looking to have the best possible abstract to #ESA2022? Attend these workshops with Bruce Kirchoff:

Formal Abstract Appeal Process

After an ad hoc appeal process for rejected abstracts was adopted last year, the committee formulated a formal process to appeal its decisions that will go into effect for this year’s meeting. This will allow submitters to improve or clarify their previous submission within a fixed time period. Details are provided on the submission website.

Additionally, reviewers are being provided with updated guidelines that  account both for the changes in permissible content and how to provide commentary when reviewing.

New Contributed  Oral, Poster Format Process  Guidelines Explained

The Meetings Committee conducts surveys and consults with expert staff to keep the ESA meeting relevant, interesting and to diversify the meeting offerings. Every year, adjustments are made based on these criteria. Over the past few years at in person meetings, poster submissions have declined, and contributed oral submissions have increased resulting in more rooms needed to accommodate the contributed oral talks, but attendance at the talks has declined resulting in sparsely attended sessions and near empty rooms. The convention centers have finite room space to hold sessions, and ESA meetings have thousands of talks that require rooms.

To remedy the problem, the new policy encourages posters that are presented in one large hall rather than oral presentations that each require an individual room. Poster sessions will be highlighted and receive prime scheduling to encourage attendance. The Meetings Committee will evaluate the new policy after the 2023 meeting and seek feedback.


The entire Meetings Committee and staff are excited for this year’s program and look forward to feedback from attendees on the impact of these improvements and how we can continuously enhance the Annual Meeting experience.