The Ecological Society of America (ESA) welcomes you to the first edition of ESA in Action. This new quarterly will focus on the many ways the Society and its members share ecological information and engage with other communities. We would like to hear from you! Please email updates on relevant activities and send feedback on this new newsletter to ESA's Public Affairs Office at We hope you enjoy this first issue.


In April, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) submitted comments on a draft environmental impact statement from the Bureau of Land Management on potential effects of the withdrawal of federal land from uranium mining surrounding the Grand Canyon. ESA wrote in support of BLM's proposal to withdrawal one million acres for up to 20 years from uranium mining in the region. ESA noted that Grand Canyon National Park in northern Arizona is home to numerous species which fall under protection of the Endangered Species Act, emphasizing that many species of concern would be adversely impacted in the event uranium were to contaminate water resources in the Grand Canyon. ESA Strategies for Education, Ecology, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS) students brought the issue to the Society's attention and also contributed a letter as individual ecologists.

In February, ESA joined the Society for Conservation Biology and several other societies in a letter to congressional leaders expressing concern with provisions of the House-passed Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011. The societies expressed concern with legislative efforts that would curtail the traditional use of science in decision-making related to the Endangered Species Act.

In June, ESA joined with nearly 30 environmental and scientific societies in a letter to Senators requesting their opposition to amendments from Sens. John Coryn (R-TX) and James Inhofe (R-OK) that would prohibit protection of the dunes sagebrush lizard and the lesser prairie chicken under the Act, in effect, legislating their removal from protection under the law.


ESA is undertaking an action-oriented initiative to reorient the relationship between society and the biosphere. Spearheaded by Society presidents Terry Chapin, Mary Power and Steward Pickett, the vision is to partner with other academic societies, federal agencies, non-governmental groups, the private sector, and other stakeholders to foster stewardship of the Earth. The Earth Stewardship Initiative aims to formulate pragmatic strategies to enhance ecosystem resilience and promote human well-being. Chapin, Power, and Pickett, along with ESA managers, have met with environmentally-oriented religious groups, social science organizations, urban designers, engineers, and federal resource managers. Many common goals have emerged from these meetings as have several specific actions. Among them: individuals from other communities will be plenary speakers and workshop organizers at ESA's upcoming Annual Meeting; ecologists and religious groups plan to collaborate to organize a speakers' bureau of ecologists to talk to religious audiences about environmental changes; and potential collaborations are actively being explored with social science groups, designers and federal agencies.


The Ecological Society of America has launched a new Facebook page. It will highlight science, education and policy activities of the Society and ecological community and serve as an additional forum to communicate ideas. ESA Facebook fans can add photos and start a discussion. Additionally, @ESA_org on Twitter and EcoTone blog posts will be linked to the new page.

To "Like" the new ESA Facebook page, click


CONGRESSIONAL VISITS DAY 2011 - In March, this year's three ESA Graduate Student Policy Award (GSPA) winners spent the day on Capitol Hill to urge federal support of science. 2011 GSPA winners DANIEL EVANS (University of Washington), MICHAEL LEVY (West Virginia University) and KELLEN MARSHALL-GILLESPIE (University of Illinois-Chicago) joined teams of other scientists to encourage congressional support for the National Science Foundation's fiscal year 2012 budget request.

Sponsored by the Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition, and jointly spearheaded by ESA and the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), the groups met with nearly 50 congressional offices, highlighting the need for investment in scientific research and education and offering personal stories of the positive impact of NSF on the communities elected officials represent.

SCIENCE EDUCATION MEETINGS WITH COMMITTEE STAFFERS - In January, education and public affairs staff of ESA met with congressional staff of the House Education and Workforce Committee and House Science, Space and Technology Committee to discuss education for a competitive and diverse workforce. The meetings with both the Republican (majority) and Democratic (minority) staffers promoted the growing need to invest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education (STEM) programs.


ESA is looking for guest contributors to ESA's popular blog, EcoTone, which features ecology and its connections to public policy and society.

Contact ESA Communications Officer Katie Kline to learn more about contributing a post:

17TH ANNUAL COALITION FOR NATIONAL SCIENCE FUNDING EXHIBIT - In May, ESA was among 30 organizations that participated in the 17th Annual Exhibition and Reception of the Coalition for National Science Funding. Entitled "STEM Research and Education: Underpinning American Innovation," the Capitol Hill event drew nearly 300 attendees, including five Members of Congress. Sponsored by ESA, SHARON COLLINGE (professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and incoming Vice President of Public Affairs (2011-2014)) discussed her work on restoring vernal pool plant communities on California's Travis Air Force Base.


With a record high federal deficit, lawmakers of all ideologies are looking to significantly cut funding for discretionary programs, including programs which have traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support, such as science. Inform your elected representative about the role science plays in our communities. (This is particularly important if you live in one of the many congressional districts represented by first-term lawmakers.) As a constituent, you can call or write a letter to your Member of Congress. The upcoming August recess is also a great time to both visit the district office of your Member of Congress or invite him or her to visit your university or scientific facility for a first-hand look at how scientific work is benefiting the community they represent. You can look up your House Member by clicking the following link and inserting your zip code in the right hand corner: You can find your Senator by clicking the following link and finding your state:


  • ANGELA BEDNAREK (The Pew Charitable Trusts) As an officer with the Ocean Science Division and the Pew Environment Group in Washington, DC, Angela Bednarek identifies scientific research relevant for OSD advocacy efforts. Bednarek synthesizes the current scientific thinking on a particular issue, evaluates the needs of stakeholders and assesses the most appropriate way to convey research results to intended audiences.
  • DEE BOERSMA (University of Washington) was mentioned in several news articles including NPR and Discover Magazine about the various metal flipper bands used by scientists to track penguins and their impacts on the animals.
  • MEG LOWMAN (North Carolina State University) contributed a fortnightly newspaper column on current and future environmental issues affecting Florida - these ranged from invasive pythons to the oil spill in the Gulf.
  • ROB JACKSON (Duke University) was quoted in articles from Energy and Environment Daily and the New York Times for his study that examined the safety of hydraulic fracturing. Jackson was also cited by Greenwire for his participation in a scientific review of the United States Forest Service's Draft Environmental Impact Statement for National Forest System Land Management.
  • ALLISON LEIDNER is among the first cohort of AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows hosted at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). She is using her training in conservation biology to work on several projects within the Earth Science Division. Her principle activities include serving as the liaison between NASA and the National Climate Assessment and coordinating NASA's contributions to the Assessment. She also works with the applications team for the NASA Carbon Monitoring System, serves on the Ecosystems Interagency Working Group and provides support for several projects within the agency's biodiversity program.
  • CHRISTOPHER FIELD (Carnegie Institute for Science) and KNUTE NADELHOFFER (University of Michigan) testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power on climate change. Nadelhoffer relayed his experiences in a recent episode of the "Ecologist Goes to Washington" podcast.
  • SUSAN WILLIAMS (University of California-Davis) is working with other colleagues to provide the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation feedback on the Securing Health for Ocean Resources and Environment (SHORE) Act. The bill would seek to strengthen federal and state oil spill response, coordination and prevention capacity. The bill was first introduced in the 110th Congress by Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who intends to reintroduce the revised bill this year.



ESA's new Policy Section will aim to help strengthen the intersection of ecological science and the making of public policy at a national and regional scale. Join others interested or already engaged in policy for the inaugural meeting/mixer of the Policy Section on Monday, August 8, from 6:30 PM - 8 PM, 1, Austin Convention Center. Participants will brainstorm activities for the coming year and nominate candidates for Section Chair and Secretary.


ESA's two delegates to the American Association for the Advancement of Science's (AAAS) Science and Human Rights Coalition-Clifford Duke (ESA Director of Science Programs) and George Middendorf (Howard University)- have organized a special session on the relevance of human rights to ecology. Soil contamination, water pollution, desertification and unsustainable use of natural resources all threaten fundamental human rights: health, food and an adequate standard of living. This session, featuring Jessica Wyndham (AAAS Project Director, Science and Human Rights Program) will identify ways in which ecologists can integrate human rights into their work and areas to collaborate with the human rights community. SS 2- Ecology and Human Rights: Defining the Relationship, Identifying the Opportunities, Monday, August 8, 2011: 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM, 12A Austin Convention Center.


ESA will hold the RRT luncheon in a "town hall" format to allow RRT members to contribute their ideas for future policy endeavors for the Society. The luncheon will take place SS 13- Tuesday, August 9, 11:30 AM - 1:15 PM, 6B Austin Convention Center. RRT Members please RSVP to by July 15.


Participation in local and regional policy issues can be especially effective when you are an active and trusted part of a community. Presenters at a session organized by Nadine Lymn (ESA Director of Public Affairs) and George Middendorf (Howard) will explore ways to work with others on sustainable solutions-from developing partnerships with stakeholders to tapping into contemplative practices. Speakers will highlight first-hand experiences that range from engaging with small communities to large land management agencies and across topics including fisheries, floods and adapting to climate change.

OOS 14- Engaging with Communities and Regional Decision Makers to Sustain Earth's Life-Support Systems, Tuesday, August 9, 1:30 PM - 5:00 PM, 16B, Austin Convention Center.


ESA will be hosting an evening policy session on Tuesday, August 9, 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM, 18D Austin Convention Center. The session will feature several speakers with experience in policy and science communication. All session participants will receive a free copy of ESA's new policy handbook: "An Ecologist's Guidebook to Policy Engagement."


Share your thoughts on Earth Stewardship at ESA's 2011 Annual Meeting! Use Twitter and Facebook to network with colleagues, receive real-time meeting and Society announcements and join the conversation about Earth Stewardship using #earthsteward. All responses will be automatically entered into a daily drawing to win an ESA t-shirt at the Austin meeting. Find ESA on Facebook at and Twitter @ESA_org; talk about the annual meeting with #ESA11. Participants MUST be attending the Annual Meeting in order to collect the prizes. Winners will be announced on Twitter through ESA's Twitter page, using the @mention feature to notify the winner. They will also be announced on ESA's Facebook wall.

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