Former House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon speaks to an interested audience at the congressional briefing held on Capitol Hill in December 2014.

Climate engineering —also known as geoengineering—is the deliberate, global-scale manipulation of Earth’s climate system. Climate engineering opens our planet to possible hazards and unknown consequences. In order to manage risks and limit experiments with trans-boundary implications the international scientific community is developing a framework of guiding principles and ethics– encompassing the potential social, ecological and economic effects. An international group of scientists met for the “Climate Engineering: Future Guiding Principles and Ethics Summit” convened by the Council of Past Society Presidents.  The U.S. National Academy of Sciences building provided the venue for the Summit in Washington D.C.  Cliff Duke, director of ESA science programs, was on the organizing committee.

Directly following the Summit on Dec. 4, 2014, ESA co-organized a congressional briefing with the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. Over fifty Hill staff attended the briefing held in the Cannon House Office Building.

Former House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon, who held a hearing on climate engineering in 2010, gave opening remarks. Paul Bertsch, deputy director of Australia's Land and Water Flagship of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Michael MacCracken, chief scientist for Climate Change Programs with the Climate Institute, outlined the impacts of global climate change on ecosystems and elaborated on the various options for climate engineering. Presentations are available for viewing online.


Funding for Scientific Research and Innovation
ESA was among 133 research, education, business and health organizations that signed a letter addressed to all Members of Congress urging passage of a FY 2015 omnibus appropriations bill to increase funding for federal agencies and programs that advance scientific research and higher education. The letter discouraged lawmakers from enacting another continuing resolution (CR) that would flat-fund federal agencies at existing spending levels and calls for a commitment to close our nation’s “innovation deficit.” Congress passed an FY 2015 appropriations bill in December with modest increases to most federal agencies and scientific programs.

ESA joined the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) in signing a letter to appropriators supporting $7.4 billion for the National Science Foundation in FY 2015, which was the dollar amount included in the House bill. This would be a three percent increase over FY 2015. The FY 2015 appropriations bill passed funds the NSF for $7.3 billion; a $172 million increase over the previous year’s funding level.

NSF merit review process
In October, ESA sent a letter to House Science, Space and Technology Committee Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), expressing appreciation for her continued opposition to Chairman Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) continued politicization of the National Science Foundation (NSF) merit review process for research grants.

Climate Change Research
In October, ESA sent a letter to the Texas State Board of Education and textbook publishers requesting that K-12 student textbooks accurately depict the current understanding of scientific research related to climate change and its causes.  Subsequently, the publishers changed the textbooks.

In November ESA joined 19 other scientific research organizations and institutions in sending a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) requesting that the finalized Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations bill supports funding for climate research and is free of any legislatively mandated constraints on such research. The appropriations bill passed in December did not include the climate riders.

Salamander Fungal Disease
In November, ESA sent a letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe requesting that the agency address the threat posed to salamanders by the fungal disease Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bs).


ESA invites members to apply for the Graduate Student Policy Awards (GSPA), which is an all-expense paid opportunity to participate in a hands-on science policy experience.  Awardees travel to Washington, D.C. for a two-day event May 13-14 to meet with policymakers and learn about the federal budget process. Application deadline is Wednesday, Jan. 14. More information on how to apply is available here.

Look at the new GSPA alumni network page. If you are a past GSPA winner and haven’t submitted an update for the network or would like to update your post, please send an email to Terence Houston, ESA policy analyst at


A team of vegetation ecologists who serve on the Ecological Society of America’s Panel on Vegetation Classification and the US National Vegetation Classification (USMVC) Peer Review Board met on Oct 27–29 to review a comprehensive set of national vegetation types. The meeting finalized Macrogroup-level descriptions and type concepts in the USNVC.

ESA’s Science Office organized USMVC meeting held in the Maritime Institute Conference Center in Baltimore, Maryland. (Credit, Kimberly Quach)


Congratulations to those elected to ESA offices in the election held this fall! Newly elected members of the Governing Board begin serving their terms after the 2015 Annual Meeting in Baltimore. Those elected to the Board of Professional Certification begin their terms in January 2015.  ESA appreciates and thanks all who ran for these offices:

President Elect (8/15–8/16)
David Lodge

Vice President for Education and Human Resources (8/15–8/18)
Nalini Nadkarni

Vice President for Public Affairs (8/15–8/17) (this is a two-year term to fill the term starting in 8/14)
Frank Davis

Member at Large (8/15–8/17)
Kathryn Cottingham

Board of Professional Certification (1/1/15–12/31/17)
Kym Rouse Campbell
Stephan Hale
Coeli Hoover


Issues in Ecology #18, “Climate Change and US Natural Resources: Advancing the Nation's Capability to Adapt,” is now available in Spanish as well as English. All Issues in Ecology can be downloaded for free here.

With winter approaching, research from the USGS Alaska Science Center has been in the news with broad coverage of the 40 percent decline in polar bear numbers in the southern Beaufort Sea, published in Ecology. When polar bears meet glaucous gulls over the remains of a bowhead whale, they may be sharing more than a meal. As the warming climate forces animals into new territory and new behaviors, proximity gives parasites, viruses, and bacteria opportunities to spread to new and naive hosts, USGS researchers reported in the December issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Stephen Pawson and Martin Bader’s October paper in Ecological Applications on the ecological impacts of LED lighting also received worldwide attention. Out West, a paper by Jennifer Jones and Wyoming colleagues on feedgrounds and elk migration, published in Ecological Applications, received media attention. A Sept. 29 paper in Ecosphere with many of the same authors has drawn attention in conjunction with a Pew report and the recent sage grouse Endangered Species listing decision.

ESA’s Natural History Section ran a popular #IAmANaturalist awareness campaign on Twitter on Sept. 8. An essay on ESA’s blog, Ecotone, explained their mission. ESA collected some of the many funny, touching, and beautiful responses from the community in a second post. The twitter tag is still active.

Greg Goldsmith wrote a guest post for ESA’s blog describing the methods he used to track and analyze audience engagement in his educational website "Canopy in the Clouds" with colleagues Drew Fulton, Colin Witherill, and Javier Espeleta for an article published last week in Ecosphere.


In Dec., 2015, ESA will celebrate a big birthday: 100 years since the first group of botanists and zoologists, parasitologists, geologists, physiologists, and marine biologists gathered in Columbus, OH to unite their shared interest in the relationships of the great diversity of living organisms to each other and their surroundings.

To kick off our Centennial year, we held a blog and social media carnival on Dec. 2nd, asking ecologists to tell us about the ideas and discoveries that have had the biggest influence on the field of ecology over the last century.

ESA’s blog rounded up of the day’s discussion on blogs, twitter, metafilter,  and ecolog-L. The conversation continues under the centennial hashtag #ESA100


Abstract submission is now open for ESA’s 100th Annual Meeting in Baltimore. Join us as we celebrate our Centennial next August. In addition to the familiar talk and poster formats, a new contributed abstract format, five minute lightning talks, will debut this year. The deadline for all abstracts is 5:00 p.m. Eastern (2:00 p.m. Pacific) on Thurs., February 26. No late abstracts will be accepted, so be sure to submit on time.


Effective scientist-communicators who foster information-sharing and respect between science and the public are essential for true public communication of and engagement with science. ESA’s Public Affairs Office in partnership with AAAS is offering a four-hour interactive Communicating Climate Science Workshop in Washington, DC on Wednesday, March 4, 2015.

While there is no charge for the workshop, space is limited. Please contact Alison Mize, for more information or to register.


ESA members pictured (left to right): Erle Ellis, Nancy Grimm, Karen Lips, James McGraw, and Lisa Schulte-Moore.

An anthromes map outlining human influences on ecology by ERLE ELLIS (University of Maryland) is now part of the 10th edition of the National Geographic World Atlas.

NANCY GRIMM (Arizona State University) served on the on the Royal Society working group that produced a report: Resilience to Extreme Weather. The report outlines the increased risks for human populations due to extreme weather caused by climate change.

In November, national media featured a research paper KAREN LIPS (University of Maryland) co-authored describing the distribution of a newly emerging pathogen of amphibians known as Bs (Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans). The New York Times published an op-ed co-written with Joe Mendelson describing threats of wildlife diseases to US biodiversity and highlighting possible options for policymakers. In July Lips presented at a Capitol Hill congressional briefing organized by the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species (NECIS) about threats to U.S. biodiversity from invasive wildlife pathogens.

JAMES MCGRAW (West Virginia University) was featured in West Virginia Public Radio this fall for his research into the role thrushes play in dispersal of American ginseng seeds. The research was based on the work of Amy Hruska, who studied the dispersers of American ginseng seeds using wildlife cameras. 

LISA SCHULTE-MOORE (Iowa State University) was featured in a column by The New York Times for her work in the STRIPS project, a science-based technique of integrating row crops with indigenous prairie plants to reduce runoff, soil erosion and nutrient loss. The project was also featured in ESA’s Field Talk podcast.



ATTENTION ESA MEMBERS: Beginning in membership year 2015, dues will include membership with one section or chapter of your choice. You are still free to join additional sections or chapters.

NEW SECTIONS: There are two new ESA sections: The Disease Ecology Section will promote research and education regarding epidemiology, evolution, and ecology of host-pathogen and host-parasite (hereafter referred to as host-parasite) interactions and disease. The Early Career Ecologist Section is dedicated to supporting ecologists in the transition from student through their first few years’ full-time employment. Questions and comments can be directed to Daniel Scholes, Chair, at or via Twitter @esa_earlycareer.

Keep track of science and policy developments, news about your fellow ecologists and join the conversation through our Facebook page and twitter.


EcoTone: ESA’s blog is soliciting guest contributions about citizen science as well as posts highlighting ecology and its connections to policy and society. Contact ESA Communications Officer Liza Lester to learn about contributing a post:

Podcasts: Field Talk features the field experiences of ecologists, including the work of those who have been published in the Society’s journals. For more information, contact Liza Lester: The Ecologist Goes to Washington podcast provides a venue to communicate experiences in public policy. For more information, contact ESA Policy Analyst, Terence Houston:

ESA in Action Winter 2015: If you have an interesting story about sharing your work beyond the ecological community or have been actively involved in policy or media communication, we’d like to hear from you. Please send updates to ESA’s Public Affairs Office at

Keep track of science and policy developments, news about your fellow ecologists and join the conversation through our Facebook page and twitter.

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