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Call for Contributed Oral and Poster Abstracts

98th ESA Annual Meeting
Minneapolis, Minnesota
August 4 - 9, 2013

Call Open: mid December 2012 - February 21, 2013

We invite submission of abstracts for contributed oral and poster presentations at the 2013 ESA Annual Meeting. The meeting will be held August 4-9, 2013, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Abstracts that address the meeting theme, “Sustainable Pathways: Learning From the Past and Shaping the Future”, are especially encouraged, but submissions may address any aspect of ecology and its applications. We also welcome submissions that report interdisciplinary work, that address communication with broad audiences, or that explore ways of teaching ecology at any level. Please adhere to the following guidelines in preparing and submitting your abstract.

Please note that invited speakers for Symposia, Organized Oral Sessions, and Organized Poster Sessions should not submit their abstracts using the links on this page. Speakers confirmed to present in these organized sessions should submit by following specific instructions that will be emailed to them in mid January. The same deadline of February 21, 2013 applies to abstracts for organized sessions.

A. One Presentation Rule
B. Guidelines for All Poster Presentations
C. Guidelines for All Oral Presentations
D. Evaluation and Acceptance of Abstracts
E. Abstract Submission
F. Editing Your Abstract
G. Cancellations
H. Penalties and Fees for Cancellations/No-Shows
I. Begin Submission Process


A. One Presentation Rule

  • Each person is allowed to submit only one abstract where they are listed as presenting author. This rule is enforced in order to encourage broad participation.
  • Sessions and roles which are included in this rule. Anyone listed as the presenting author for a presentation in a contributed oral, contributed poster, symposium, organized oral, or organized poster session.
  • Coauthors are not included in this rule. A person may serve as a non-presenting author on several abstracts.
  • You can edit the presenting author status as you enter your author list. The first author is the presenting author by default. You will be able to edit this as you enter the full author list and your selection will appear in bold.
  • The presenting author is the point of contact. He or she will receive all abstract notifications from ESA. Be sure to check to make sure the right person is indicated and that their email is entered correctly!
  • Other roles which are not included in the one presentation rule:
    • Serving as a session organizer and/or moderator for any session type.
    • Presenting in a workshop or special session.
    • Presenting in an Ignite ESA session.

Exceptions to the One Presentation Rule:
An author may submit an abstract for a second presentation only if one of the abstracts is directly related to a) ecology education or scientific outreach or b) the history of ecology as a discipline or ESA. Presentations that focus on the history of the discipline or ESA are exempted in recognition of ESA's Centennial in 2015. Please note that historical ecology does not fall under this exemption.
Please contact Program Coordinator Jennifer Riem if you have questions about whether an abstract fits these criteria.  

B. Guidelines for all Poster Presentations

  • Contributed posters are intended to be equally prestigious as contributed talks. Poster presentations allow presenters to reach a larger audience than a contributed talk in many cases. The two hour time slot, absence of concurrent sessions, and busy exhibit hall traffic during poster sessions provide both time and opportunity for extended Q&A with interested attendees.
  • Posters are displayed for a full day. Authors should hang their posters in the morning on the day of their presentation. This allows interested attendees to view the poster even when the author is not in attendance. The exhibit hall opens mid-morning each day. If you are presenting on a given day, visiting the hall earlier in the day is a great opportunity to view other posters in your session, as well as those that you might otherwise miss while you are presenting your own during the session.
  • Poster sessions are 4:30-6:30 pm Monday through Thursday.By submitting an abstract, it is expected that the presenting author will be available during ANY of these time slots. Special scheduling requests CANNOT be honored and talks CANNOT be moved once scheduling is complete.
  • DO NOT submit a poster you do not intend to be present for during the session. Presenting authors are REQUIRED to be present for the scheduled 2-hour session (4:30-6:30 PM).
  • There is no poster size requirement except that the poster fits on the provided board. Poster boards are landscape format with dimensions 8 ft wide x 4 feet tall (2.4 m wide x 1.2 m tall). To ensure the poster will fit, presenters should design posters to be at least 2 inches (5 cm) smaller on each margin. In practice most posters we see at the conference fall into the 3-4 ft tall x 4-5 ft wide range. These sizes allow the presenter room to stand next to the poster without blocking its line of sight.
  • There is no requirement for the organization and formatting of the poster’s content. There are many helpful online guides that can provide you with some general pointers. If you are a student making a research poster for the first time, we suggest asking your advisor for a poster from a past conference to use as an example. You can also look at posters from past ESA conferences here (keep in mind this is simply an archive of past posters, not recommended formats.)
  • Pushpins will be supplied on site. These are the only method allowed for attaching the poster to the board.
  • Poster presenters may not use audio-visual equipment. Unfortunately we cannot accommodate the space and logistical requirements for such equipment.
  • Poster presenters are welcome to bring handouts. Many poster presenters bring a few 8.5x11 copies of their posters to provide as handouts. These will fit into an envelope that can be attached to the poster board using pushpins.
  • We rely on topics ranked by the abstract author to organize posters into sessions. Abstracts will be placed in sessions based on topics (themes) ranked by the submitting author at the time of abstract submission. Only in rare cases is abstract content factored into session groupings. Do not rank topics as a rushed decision right at the deadline! We strongly recommend browsing recent conferences in advance and considering which topics seem like a good fit for your presentation both in terms of concept and which abstracts you think are most similar to your own.
  • Conversation is encouraged. These sessions provide an opportunity for extended discussion and networking in a relaxed setting after completion of the day’s oral sessions. A cash bar is available.

C. Guidelines for All Oral Presentations (Talks)

  • Contributed oral presentations are scheduled for 20 minute timeslots. 15 minutes are allotted for each presentation plus 5 minutes for questions. Time limits will be strictly enforced by the session presider, who will warn each speaker when they are approaching their time limit.
  • The 5 minute period between talks belongs to the audience, not to the speaker. The 5-minute period allows for questions, discussion, and introduction of the next speaker. Q&A will be managed by the session presider.
  • We rely on topics ranked by the abstract author to organize talks into sessions. Abstracts will be placed in sessions based on topics (themes) ranked by the submitting author at the time of abstract submission. Only in rare cases is abstract content factored into session groupings. Do not rank topics as a rushed decision right at the deadline! We strongly recommend browsing recent conferences in advance and considering which topics seem like a good fit for your presentation both in terms of concept and which abstracts you think are most similar to your own.
  • Each contributed talk may be scheduled Monday afternoon through Friday morning. By submitting an abstract, it is expected that the presenting author will be available during ANY of these time slots. Special scheduling requests CANNOT be honored and talks CANNOT be moved once scheduling is complete.
  • Contributed talks may be placed in Organized Oral Sessions (OOS). Presenting authors may indicate a preference for a particular OOS at the time of abstract submission. A list of  OOS titles will be available as a drop-down list within the abstract form by mid January of 2013. If you submit before then you may log back in before the deadline to indicate your preference. The Program Chair will rank contributed talks for each OOS in May, depending on how strongly they support the theme of that session. Highly ranked talks will be moved into OOS to fill as many slots as are available.

Important Information About Formatting Oral Presentations (Talks)
This section describes recommended presentation formats and practices for oral presentations. We realize that losing speaking time due to technical glitches or other problems is a frustrating and stressful experience. This information is provided to presenters in advance in order to help minimize problems on the day of your presentation.

  • For all formats, we advise presenters to test their slides in advance in a Speaker Ready Room. You may sign up for a time to test your presentation at the Information Desk. These rooms are for checking your slides’ compatibility on our laptops, not for practicing presentations.
  • All presenters are expected to arrive at their session room at least 20 minutes in advance of the start of their session. This time is for checking in with the session presider and allows the projectionist to transfer your presentation to the dedicated laptop. Please bring a copy of your presentation on a CD or USB Flash drive.
  • Each meeting room will be equipped with a dedicated LCD projector and PC laptop. The laptop will be running Windows 7 with MS Office 2010 Suite.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat are the preferred formats for slides. These file types will work most smoothly on the laptops we provide. Plug-ins have been loaded so that anything created in earlier versions of Office should still open without any issues.
  • Please do not use Presenter View in PowerPoint. This often causes problems for the next presenter when multiple slideshows are open at the same time on the same computer. Troubleshooting the settings and restoring them to the defaults often eats into presentation time.
  • Presenters may use a different digital slide format as long as it is technically compatible with our laptops. While the preferred formats are less likely to cause any technical problems on the day of your presentation, you may use a different format if you wish to do so; however, it is the speaker’s responsibility to make sure that their presentation will run smoothly. You should save your files in a format compatible with MS Office 2010 for Windows 7. The laptops also have Adobe Flash installed. We strongly advise you to check your presentation in a Speaker Ready Room in advance if you are using one of these other formats.
  • Prezi and other cloud-based formats can be used. Be sure to check that our laptops meet their technical requirements and that you will be able to export a portable file in advance. Although our laptops are wireless enabled, the availability of a wireless connection varies between meeting sites and even in years when it is present, its reliability will vary from room to room. We strongly advise against relying on an internet connection for a presentation since you may not be able to reliably connect to a cloud-based service from the session room. Instructions for downloading a portable Prezi file can be found here.
  • There are some formats which often do not work on our laptops! Corel presentations, embedded videos, animations, and Mac file formats typically cause problems. If you plan to use these, you may need to use your own computer.
  • You may use your own laptop for your presentation if necessary. We recommend testing your presentation on our laptops first since disconnecting and reconnecting speakers’ computers can disrupt sessions. If you do need to use your own PC or Mac laptop, you will need to connect it to the LCD projector. We ask that you be considerate of the presenter following you and make sure your technical setup does not take away from any of their presentation time. Please arrive at your session early to make sure that you and/or the A/V volunteer can disconnect and reconnect the dedicated laptop without any problems.
  • Mac users will need to bring their own VGA dongle. ESA does not provide these adapters.
  • Laser pointers will be provided for each session. These will be picked up in advance by the session presiders.
  • Beginning in 2013, slides will need to be advanced manually using the laptop at the podium. The clickers we have provided for advancing slides in recent years tend to be accidentally pocketed by speakers and session organizers and mixed up between rooms. This has led to a number of sessions where clickers did not match their designated laptops and would not advance slides. In a few cases speakers were accidentally advancing slides in adjacent rooms! To prevent this we will be eliminating clickers. Speakers who wish to use clickers are welcome to bring their own.

D. Evaluation and Acceptance of Abstracts

  • Please read and follow the abstract guidelines carefully. Accuracy of the abstract is the responsibility of the author(s). Abstracts will be REJECTED if they do not comply precisely with the guidelines on content and format listed here and on the submission website.
  • Results are required. Abstracts may be submitted before all analyses and conclusions are in their final form, but authors MUST report some specific preliminary results. Abstracts describing a non-research project without quantitative data must still report specific findings. Vague statements such as “results will be discussed” will result in abstract rejection.
  • Have you not yet collected your data? Authors who cannot yet report any specific results but expect to be able to do so by May should submit to the Latebreaking Poster call (May 9 deadline). Abstracts primarily based on work for which data cannot yet be reported will be REJECTED if they are submitted for this call. If your field season is this spring and you cannot report preliminary results by early May, then unfortunately next year’s conference is when you should plan to present your work.
  • Clarity of language is important. Abstracts must use standard English and follow English syntax, grammar, and punctuation rules. Poorly written abstracts will be REJECTED.  
  • Reviews of past work are generally not permissible for contributed presentations. Abstracts must be based primarily on new, unpublished material. Symposia and special sessions are more appropriate venues for presentations which primarily review and synthesize previous work.
  • If you are unsure if your presentation meets our guidelines, please ask us. We would rather talk to you about it in advance than send you a rejection notice in April.

E. Abstract Submission

Select the link at the bottom of this page to begin the submission process. 
If you have been asked by an organizer to present in a Symposium, Organized Oral Session, or Organized Poster Session, do not submit here. You will receive specific instructions by email in mid January and should follow those instead. Contact Jennifer Riem if you need the instructions resent.

Indicating Preferences for Session Assignment:

  • The themes you rank at the time of abstract submission are used to assign your session. Contributed oral and poster presentations will be grouped with similar presentations to form sessions.  We attempt to make sessions thematically coherent based on the preferences authors rank among likely session themes.
  • Please consider the themes carefully. For most abstracts, session themes are the only information we use to create sessions, so please consider the options carefully. You may find it helpful to peruse sessions from recent conferences (2012, 2011, 2010) to see which session themes you would feel most at home in.
  • How themes are organized. We have listed likely session themes, based on submissions and sessions from prior meetings, in ‘pull-down’ lists under five categories: 1) ecological concepts and processes; 2) ecosystem or habitat; 3) ecological applications, tools, and techniques; 4) subdiscipline; and 5) taxonomic or functional group. 
  • How to rank themes. Please rank 3 of these themes (1 indicating most preferred) to guide our grouping of papers into sessions. Each of your preferred themes may be selected from any of the 5 categories.
  • The frequency with which themes are ranked determines session topics. If your first preference is not selected frequently enough to populate a full session, we will use your second and third preferences as an indicator of how to group your presentation with others. If a theme is selected by many people, we will divide papers among more focused sessions using your other preferences and sometimes the information in your title and abstract.

Submitting Abstract and Author Information:
Please follow the instructions on the abstract form when entering your abstract. The general guidelines are provided here as a guide to help you plan in advance.

  • We strongly suggest preparing your abstract as a file you save on your own computer and then copying it into our system.
  • 5:00 PM Eastern is the submission deadline. Please note that the abstract form will close at this time, even if you have only partially entered your abstract!
  • The abstract body is divided into 2 sections. The word limit is 200 words per section (400 words total). The two sections are a) Background/Questions/Methods, in which you should clearly identify the objective of the study; and b) Results/Conclusions in which you should explicitly report specific results of the study.
  • If the form says you are missing the section headings, check your spelling. A simple typo (Question instead of Questions) will cause this to occur.
  • Results are required. Abstracts without explicitly stated results will be REJECTED. These results may be preliminary but they may not be vague. If you are presenting a non-traditional research paper, it is understandable that the abstract would lack quantitative data; however, it is still expected that your talk will have a “take-home message” describing specific findings.
  • How to format your title. The title is limited to 255 characters (about 15 words). Mostly you should enter it as you would a sentence: capitalize only the first word and proper nouns, italicize only as necessary for specific words. You should capitalize first word following a colon. Do not end your title with punctuation unless it is a question. Do not bold anything in the title.
  • How to format author names. For each author, enter the full first name, any middle initials, and the full last name. Do not add punctuation after any of the names.
  • Missing coauthors are a common issue. Please check at the time of submission to make sure everyone who should be listed has been listed. Students, have you included your advisor?
  • How to format author affiliations. Our author profile has one field for department and one for affiliation – check that you are not accidentally switching these fields. Only the author’s affiliation will appear in the official conference program, and this should be the name of the institution. There is no field for job title.
  • How to select special characters, symbols, and font styles. These are available from menu of options on the abstract submission form. You may italicize scientific names and format superscripts and subscripts for chemical names.

Example abstract from the 2012 meeting program.

Abstract Notifications:

  • If you enter an incorrect email address, notifications from ESA will not reach you! Be sure to carefully check your email address for any typos when submitting your abstract. If you have entered your email correctly you will receive an automated email after completing and submitting the first page of abstract information.
  • Please retain your notification of receipt. Your abstract will be assigned an Abstract ID Number. Please do not delete the email containing this ID number as it is the quickest and most accurate way for us to look up your abstract when you contact us with a question. 
  • Notification of receipt. You will be automatically notified when your abstract has been submitted, using the e-mail address entered on the submission form. You can return to edit your abstract until the submission deadline, February 21, 2013. 
  • Notification of acceptance. You will be notified of acceptance or rejection of your abstract via e-mail by April 18, 2013.
  • Notification of scheduling. You will be notified of the day and session of your presentation via e-mail by May 16, 2013. A full preliminary program including presentation times will be available by mid June.

If you encounter problems during abstract submission, contact Jennifer Riem, preferably by email, and include the abstract ID number.

F. Editing Your Abstract

  • How to access your abstract later. You may view your abstract by going to: and entering the Abstract ID Number and password received at the time of submission.
  • Edits cannot be made while abstracts are being reviewed. No edits can be made after the submission deadline. Abstract editing will be available for a short window (2-3 weeks) in May. All presenting authors will receive instructions and a specific deadline by email. Edits are not possible before or after the May editing window.
  • Missing coauthors are the most common reason for editing. Please check at the time of submission to make sure everyone who should be listed has been listed. Students, have you included your advisor?

G. Cancellations

  • The deadline for cancellation without risk of penalty is May 1, 2013.  For more information on ESA’s cancellation policy, continue reading through the next section.
  • Payment information for a cancellation fee is required at the time of abstract submission. Each person who submits an abstract, whether for an oral paper or a poster, MUST also provide payment information (credit card or check) to ESA. No abstract submission will be accepted for presentation unless this payment information is received by ESA.
  • The fee will only be charged if the presenting author cancels after May 1 or is a no show. Payment information provided during abstract submission will be used to process late cancellation/no show fees ONLY if the presenter either: 1) cancels after the May 1, 2013 deadline or 2) fails to show up to present his/her paper or poster and does not arrange for a co-author or other alternate person to present the abstract. The fee is $60 for oral presentations and $40 for poster presentations.    
  • Submitting an abstract and the cancellation fee information DOES NOT register you for the conference. Registration is a separate process which will open in the spring. All presenters of accepted abstracts will need to register later. We will remind presenters to register in meeting correspondence.
  • Please do not submit an abstract “just in case.” Before submitting an abstract, authors should be reasonably confident that they will attend the meeting and make the presentation as scheduled. If there is some unavoidable uncertainty then please confirm your plans or cancel before May 1.
  • A replacement speaker is allowed if your plans change close to the conference dates. If circumstances prevent attendance for a scheduled presentation, the presenting author should attempt to find another person to make the presentation on their behalf. A coauthor is ideal, but the substitute speaker does not necessarily need to be a coauthor. If you have arranged for a replacement speaker after May 15, you do not need to notify ESA because we cannot update the program. However, please notify session organizers if applicable.
  • If cancellation is unavoidable, the author should notify Jennifer Riem by email as soon as possible. Please let us know if you will not be able to present, even if you are cancelling on a date close to or during the Annual Meeting. If you are cancelling after May 1 and would like us to consider waiving the applicable penalties, please include a brief reason for the cancellation.

H. Penalties and Fees for Cancellations/No-Shows

Late cancellations and failures to give scheduled presentations (no shows) are disruptive and leave costly gaps in the program that are distracting to all attendees.
Therefore, ESA has adopted the following cancellation policy and fee schedule (all values are in US dollars):

ESA’s late cancellation and no show policy:

  • In all cases where cancellation is unavoidable, the author should notify Jennifer Riem by email as soon as possible.
  • The deadline to cancel without penalty is May 1, 2013. After May 1, 2013 authors are charged a late cancellation fee.
  • After May 15, 2013, authors are charged a late cancellation fee and banned from presenting at the 2014 conference.
  • Presenting authors who do not notify ESA of cancellation and fail to present at the scheduled time (no shows) are at risk for the late cancellation fee and a 2 year presentation ban (2014-2015).
  • The late cancellation fee is $60.00 US Dollars for oral presentations and $40.00 US Dollars for poster presentations.

Exceptions: Cancellation fees and penalties may be waived for extenuating circumstances. Consideration will be made on a case-by-case basis. Please include a brief reason for the cancellation if you would like us to consider waiving the applicable penalties. Fees for cancellations will be processed and decisions regarding bans from future meetings will be made after the Annual Meeting.

I. Begin Submission Process

To begin the submission process, please click here.

For further information consult the ESA meeting web site or contact the Program Chair, Debra Peters, or Program Coordinator, Jennifer Riem:


Dr. Debra P. C. Peters
Research Scientist, USDA ARS, Jornada Experimental Range
Principal Investigator, Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research Program
2995 Knox Street
Box 30003, MSC 3JER, NMSU
Las Cruces, NM USA 88003-0003
Phone: 575-646-2777
Fax: 575-646-5889


Jennifer Riem
Program Coordinator
Ecological Society of America
1990 M Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036 USA
Phone: (202) 833-8773 x 218
Fax: (202) 833-8775