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June 25, 2020

Greetings, Members of the Natural History Section.

Below, you will find updates on several important topics, including:

  • Addressing inequity in ecology and beyond
  • Call for officer nominations–all leadership positions open!
  • Natural History Section events for ESA 2020
  • Anti-racist resources pertaining to natural history


We support the recent ESA letter to the community urging ecologists to do more to fight racial injustices both inside and outside the discipline of ecology and committing to redoubling efforts to address inequities. We–the officers of the Natural History Section–also recognize that the Section has a lot of work to do to actively engage in anti-racist action and work for positive change. We acknowledge the role that natural history institutions play in perpetuating systemic racism and minimizing the significant contributions of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) to understanding and experiencing the natural world. 

We have committed the Natural History Section to take action for positive change. We are funding a scholarship through the SEEDS program for members of historically underrepresented groups in ecology, as well as providing other forms of financial assistance. We commit to educating ourselves and others about the racist past of natural history, and to providing forums to share voices from diverse viewpoints, as we endeavor to elevate natural history as a universal human practice core to our relationship with the natural world. We are thinking critically about how we can join forces with other ESA groups that elevate BIPOC voices and provide opportunities to historically underrepresented groups in ecology and outdoor spaces. 

We recognize that this is only a start to dismantling systemic racism that has created a lack of diversity in ecology and in the outdoors, and we look forward to continually improving our response as we learn more from our own anti-racist work, our communities, and our membership. 

We can’t do this alone. As members of the ESA Natural History Section, we ask you to tell us what we can do as a section to continue anti-racist work in our discipline and in our community.   A list of resources on anti-racist work specific to natural history follows at the end of this letter.


One thing you can do today is nominate diverse voices for officer positions. These positions provide an opportunity for leadership and a voice for positive change within ESA and beyond. 

We invite nominations—including self-nominations—for all these positions:

Chair; Vice-Chair, Secretary; Special Initiatives Coordinator; and Social Media Coordinator.

If you have nominations, please reach out to us at with the person’s name, contact info, which position you are nominating them for, and a brief summary of their qualifications.  Candidates will be asked to write a brief statement on their interest in the position for elections.

  • Nominations are now open, and will remain so until July 12.
  • We will have elections online, July 15-30
  • Results will be announced at our Section’s annual business meeting and mixer (on-line) at 2:00 pm MDT on Thursday, August 6.


While we’re disappointed to miss in-person interactions with many of you in Salt Lake City, we’re still excited for ESA 2020. The Natural History Section is organizing and sponsoring the following events. You can find more details on all these events on our ESA 2020 page

  • Inspire Session: Natural History: The Passionate Heart of Ecology  
    • Pre-recorded like most presentations at ESA 2020
    • Opportunity for online written and live Q&A 
  • Special Session: Story and the Ecological Imagination  
    • Eight authors will share readings on ecological themes, and will participate in a live discussion. Hosted by the Natural History Institute, and in collaboration with The King’s English bookstore in Salt Lake (where this was originally to have taken place)  
  • Annual Business Meeting and Mixer
    • Including announcement of election results for new officers
  • National Biodiversity Championship  
    • It’s back for 2020, with a new format to support participation from across the globe! More information is available here.

We hope to interact with many of you during this annual meeting week – and before and after, as well. 

In service, your Section officers,

Tom Fleischner, Chair

Lou Weber, Vice-Chair

Andrea Adams, Secretary

Seabird McKeon, Special Initiatives Coordinator

Noah Charney, Member-at-Large

Richard Nevle, Member-at-Large

Below is a (non-exhaustive) list of resources for anti-racist work and education related to natural history and ecology.

People and groups we recommend engaging with and amplifying the voices of on social media:

April 21, 2020

Spring Letter to ESA Natural History Section Members

Greetings, Fellow ESA Naturalists,

First off, we hope you are safe, healthy, and witnessing the onset of spring, wherever you are.  We just wanted to update you on a few things related to the Natural History Section of ESA.

  • Annual MeetingAs of today, ESA is still planning on an in-person conference this summer in Salt Lake City in early August, with virtual options.  There is, of course, a very good possibility that the meeting will become fully virtual; ESA expects to make that decision by approximately mid-May.  The Natural History Section has a number of activities planned for the meeting:
  • A field trip, Natural History and Ecological Recovery of the Wasatch Mountains.
  • An Inspire session, Natural History: The Passionate Heart of Ecology
  • A special session, in conjunction with an outstanding independent bookstore, on Story and the Ecological Imagination.
  • The second annual National Biodiversity Championship
  • A book auction and info table
  • A mixer
  • We had also established Travel Awards for the meeting

To say that all this is currently uncertain is an understatement!  But we are committed to providing as much of this content as possible in a virtual format.  Additionally, we have new ideas for some innovative forms of engagement—so  that, should the meeting go on-line, it wouldn’t be simply a two-dimensional, somewhat watered-down version of the real thing, but would transcend the parameters of what can be done inside a convention center.

  • We will be hosting one of ESA’s “Water Cooler” events (Happy Hour, if you prefer…), on Friday, May 1st, at 4:30 pm Pacific/ 7:30 pm Eastern. This will be an informal social hour and discussion of The Role of Natural History in Ecology.  Here’s the zoom link for this event.
  • Finally, just a heads-up that soon we’ll be putting out a call for nominations (self- or otherwise) for officers for the board of the Natural History Section. The Chair, Vice-Chair, and Secretary positions are all elected by the section membership.  I will be stepping down as Chair after the annual meeting.


Tom Fleischner, Chair

On behalf of the Natural History Section board:

Lou Weber, Vice-Chair

Andrea Adams, Secretary

Seabird McKeon, Special Initiatives Coordinator

Noah Charney, Member-At-Large

Richard Nevle, Member-At-Large

January 14, 2020

Expand your portfolio! Improve your abstract writing! Contribute to the quality of ESA meetings! Abstract reviewers needed in preparation for ESA 2020 

Dear Natural History Section Members:

To build a robust and transparent review process while maintaining the quality expected of presentations at ESA meetings, volunteers are needed to review presentation abstracts for ESA 2020.

Reviewers will complete reviews online over three weeks in March.  Each reviewer will be assigned 100-150 abstracts, or fewer if there are more volunteers.

Reviews will contribute greatly to the Society, and abstract reviewers often report improvements in their own abstract writing.  Each abstract will have more than one reviewer. The Meetings Committee considers reviewer ratings and comments in deciding which abstracts to accept.  Any ESA member is eligible to serve, including students and postdocs.  No reviewer will review their own abstract.

If  interested, contact Dr. Louise Weber (, Vice-Chair of the Natural History Section, by March 1, 2020.

July 15, 2019

July 2019 Letter to Members from Section Chair Tom Fleischner

Greetings, ESA Natural History Section members,

Happy spring to all!  A few quick updates on Section news:

  • As we mentioned earlier, we will be very active at the Annual Meeting — for those of you coming to the meeting, we hope the Natural History Section will be your home away from home!
    • We’re sponsoring an all-day field trip, “Kentucky’s Outer Bluegrass: Afoot and Afloat,” on Sunday, August 11th. As the title suggests, this will involve both walking (~2.5 miles) and canoeing, through one of the largest forested blocks in Louisville, with songbirds, old oaks, and limestone ledges.  What better way to kick off the conference?
    • Throughout the meeting, we’ll be hosting an information booth, which will also serve as the display table for books in our silent auction. We are looking for volunteers to help staff this table – it can be a fun way to meet new friends and colleagues.  Please sign up here!
    • On Wednesday evening, August 14th, we’ll be hosting a Section mixer, which will also include the Biodiversity Championship Awards Ceremony. Please join!
    • And, on Thursday morning, August 15th, we’ll be offering an Inspire session on “Historia Naturalis: Inspiring Ecology,” with an exciting line-up of speakers.

We hope to see many of you at these events!

Also, as we mentioned previously:

  • We’re still expanding our website. We’d like to help Section members share their work—if you blog or otherwise communicate about your ecology work, and would like to have others alerted, get in touch with us at:

All the best,

Tom Fleischner, Chair