Special Session Proposals

2017 ESA Annual Meeting
Portland, Oregon
August 6 – 11, 2017

Deadline: 5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific)
Thursday, November 17, 2016

Proposals that are incomplete or received after the deadline will not be considered.

All ESA Annual Meeting proposal and abstract deadlines are 5:00 PM Eastern so that technical support and ESA staff assistance will be immediately available when submitters need it. If you begin your submission very close to the deadline, you are choosing to take a risk and we will not make an exception if you don’t complete your submission in time. The form automatically closes at 5:00 EST / 2:00 PST whether you have completed your submission or not. 

About Special Sessions

We invite proposals for special sessions for the 2017 ESA Annual Meeting. Special sessions complement the formal scientific program, providing an opportunity for presentations or extended dialogue and exchanges beyond what is usually possible in the regular scientific sessions. These sessions are not appropriate for the presentation of formal research talks and do not include presentation abstracts. Special sessions do not conform to any single structure. They may, for example, involve one presenter, a series of presenters, a panel, a film or video, an open-ended discussion, or some combination of these.

Click here to see an example of a special session from a recent conference. To see other examples, please browse the online program from the 2016 Annual Meeting in Fort Lauderdale.

Proposal Format

The information listed below must be submitted through the online submission form. It is provided here to assist you in planning your submission. The form may differ slightly from the version listed here. Proposals that are incomplete or received by email will not be considered. You may begin a submission and then return to edit it up until the deadline.

Components of a special session proposal

  • Session title
  • Session description (appears online only; 250 words max.)
  • Sentence summary (appears in print only; 50 word max.)
  • A lead organizer (Required; name, institution, and email).
  • Co-organizers (Optional; name, institution, and email for each).
  • Requested session day and time:
    • 10:15 – 11:30 AM Monday only (75 minutes)
    • 8:00 – 10:00 PM Monday (2 hours)
    • 8:00 – 10:00 PM Tuesday (2 hours)
    • 8:00 – 10:00 PM Wednesday (2 hours)
  • The standard A/V setup is a screen, LCD projector, and laptop (with sound). Any additional A/V equipment, such as flip charts and extra power strips, must be requested in the proposal and may incur additional fees.
  • We anticipate that wireless internet will be available this year. Since wireless may not be available in all rooms, it is important to specify at the proposal stage whether it is required so that we can plan accordingly.
  • Room set-up: theater, theater with a panel table, round tables, conference, classroom hollow square. In order to give priority to paper sessions, it is unlikely we will be able to provide room setups other than theater style for the Monday morning special session time slot.
  • Food and beverage request: none, coffee, soda and water, cash bar, open bar, snacks.
  • Do you have funding to pay for food, beverages, or other costs of running this session? What is the source of the funding? What expenses would it cover, and for what amount?
  • Are there any other sessions proposed for the meeting that this session should NOT conflict with?
  • Is there a session (formal scientific session, business meeting, mixer) that this session is intended to immediately precede or follow?

Session and presentation rules

To promote diversity of sessions and topics, no person will be permitted to organize more than two workshops and/or special sessions at the 2017 Annual Meeting. A group of organizers may propose multiple linked sessions. Each session should be submitted separately and it should be made clear which other proposals it is linked to, as well as its intended order in the sequence of the events.

Note that the One Presentation Rule does not apply to workshops and special sessions. Anyone presenting in a workshop or special session may also present in a scientific session (a formal talk or poster).

To avoid conflicts with scientific sessions, special sessions are not scheduled concurrently with oral or poster sessions. Special sessions are typically scheduled either on Monday morning after the Opening Scientific Plenary or as a weekend evening session.

The program committee will consider the requested day and time during session scheduling but is unable to honor all scheduling requests. Accepted sessions will be scheduled to minimize topic overlap and as meeting space and logistics allow. Scheduling will be emailed to session organizers by mid-February.

Meeting registration and fees

Special sessions are open to all ESA attendees on a first-come, first-serve basis. Special sessions with food and beverage costs may require an advance signup through the meeting registration form.

Other important information to consider

Acceptance of your proposal does not obligate ESA beyond providing a meeting space and including the session in the program. We especially stress that no ESA funds are available for waived or reduced meeting registration, honoraria, refreshments, special A/V needs, internet access, or travel expenses for special session participants. All participants must register for the meeting at the one day or full week rate. Organizers are responsible for making this clear to everyone they recruit to help with the session. ESA will not reimburse session organizers for expenses.

Evaluation Process and Criteria

Proposals for special sessions are reviewed and selected by the Program Chair in consultation with peers s/he may invite to assess proposals. Proposals may be from any area of science related to ecology, but those that pertain to the overall theme, “Linking Biodiversity, Material Cycling and Ecosystem Services in a Changing World” are especially encouraged. We also welcome proposals that explore connections with the social or natural sciences, or that are directed to ecological education at any level.

The primary criteria for acceptance include scientific merit, probable interest by meeting attendees, and a clearly written and compelling description. Limits of space and time may make it impossible to accommodate all worthy submissions. The Program Chair has final authority for acceptance and scheduling for any proposed special session.

If Your Proposal Is Accepted

All submitters will be notified of acceptance decisions by mid-January. At that time, organizers will be provided with instructions to begin preparing the session for the online program in the spring.

Information for all accepted special sessions will be available in the online program when registration opens (typically in early April).

Cancellation Policy

Once a special session has been accepted and listed online, cancellation imposes a serious burden. Do not submit a proposal if you are uncertain that you will be able to fulfill your obligation to organize and conduct the session. Once a session is accepted by the Program Chair, cancellation by the session organizer may preclude the acceptance of any sessions proposed by the organizer for the 2018 ESA Annual Meeting.

Important Dates

February 23, 2017 Abstract submission deadline.

April 13, 2017 Notification of acceptance sent to presenting author.

May 1, 2017 Deadline to cancel without penalty. This is also the deadline for editing abstracts.

May 25, 2017 Notification of scheduling (session date and time) sent to presenting author.


To Submit

You must submit your proposal using the online submission form. Proposals sent by email will not be considered. When you submit your proposal, you will be automatically notified of receipt by an email sent to the address that you provide. If you do not receive such a notification, please contact Program Coordinator Jennifer Riem at jennifer@esa.org to confirm that your proposal was received. You will be able to return to the proposal to edit it until the submission deadline has passed. Information on how to do so will be included in the automated email.

Submission Forms


Dr. Christopher Swan
Program Chair
Geography & Environmental Systems
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Baltimore, MD 21250
Phone: (410) 455-3957
E-mail: Chris.Swan@umbc.edu

Jennifer Riem
Program Coordinator
Ecological Society of America
1990 M Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036 USA
Phone: (202) 833-8773 x 218
Email: jennifer@esa.org