=> Meeting Evaluation 2006 <=

The location of the 2006 ESA meeting is Memphis, Tennessee, the “Birthplace of Rock ‘n' Roll” and “Home of the Blues”. In ecology, as in the music world, there are people whose ideas and work have become so widely accepted and established that they have achieved the status of icons – the ‘rock stars' of ecology. This is apparent from the packed rooms of ESA meeting sessions in which these ecological rock stars are presenting. At the same time, there are also always people who bring new ideas or approaches to the study of ecology – the upstarts – and whose ideas may sometimes challenge those of the icons.

Memphis Cook Convention CenterThis distinction between icons and upstarts could be made not only for people but also for species, landscapes, concepts and ideas, techniques and research approaches, branches of ecological science and research topics. The meeting logo illustrates some of the iconic species of Tennessee such as the baldcypress, paddlefish and Mississippi kite as well as upstarts (both native and exotic) such as the tiger mosquito and the tulip poplar (the state tree). The meandering rivers (also cleverly represented in the logo) may be considered icons of the Tennessee landscape while the increasing lengths of engineered channels might be viewed as upstarts. With regard to concepts and ideas, historically we have seen Clements' iconic organismic developmental concept of community organization countered by Gleason's upstart individualistic view. More recently, the iconic ideas of the balance of nature and niche have been challenged by upstart notions of disequilibrium and neutral community assembly. In terms of research approach, the standard well-established statistical/regression modeling approach is being replaced by mechanistic/process modeling. Some branches of ecological science have also become well established (icons) while we see the emergence of new emerging upstart branches as reflected in the changes over time of ESA section listings.

Beale Street by NightThe establishment and elevation to iconic status of people, ideas, etc., can sometimes create problems for upstarts when it comes to publications and acceptance by the ecological community at large. But the upstarts of today may become the icons of tomorrow. As illustrated in the music field, Elvis, the “King of Rock ‘n' Roll”, W.C. Handy, the “Father of the Blues”, and other musical icons such as B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Roy Orbison rose from the status of upstarts to icons in the cultural soil of Memphis. Therefore, it may be appropriate for the theme of this meeting to acknowledge the important role that Memphis played in the development of American music by showcasing our own icons and upstarts in ecology. Perhaps Memphis' “earthy electricity that spawns musical innovation” will also help to spawn some new ecological ideas, insights and innovations.

Here in Memphis, attendees of the field trips will have the opportunity to learn about some of the iconic (e.g., pallid sturgeon, prothonotary warbler, mallard) and upstart (e.g., Japanese stilt grass, tree-of-heaven, and West Nile virus) species of Tennessee as well as the iconic landscapes of meandering rivers, streams and wetlands and the upstart river engineering by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The "Icons and Upstarts in Ecology" theme will also be addressed through symposia and organized oral sessions that feature both established and emerging scientists addressing concepts, techniques, or research topics that are currently established, those that are trendy, and those that are new, innovative and/or controversial.

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