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Reports and Publications

Reports on Biological Infrastructure Sustainability

ESA began convening the scientific community on issues relating to sustaining biological infrastructure resources (collections, field stations, labs, and digital data resources) in 2010. Two pivotal workshops identified identified challenges to keeping biological infrastructure projects operational, investigated different sustainability models, helped craft strategies for developing and innovating the nation’s living stocks collections:

Creating Sustainable Models for Research Resources

Our workshop, building on the SBI Training Initiative, brought together a diverse, interdisciplinary group of natural history museum curators and collections staff, collections users (both current and potential), sustainability experts, management research specialists, and future studies experts to discuss the potential for developing (1) quantitative measures of collections value and (2) economic models for translating this value into support for collections, based on tangible benefits.

A follow-up meeting took place in March 2019 at the American Alliance for Museums in Crystal City, VA. Participants reflected on achievements since the 2016 workshop, discussed methods of overcoming real and potential barriers to maintaining and growing collections, and identified strategies, situations, and tools that help leaders implement innovative approaches to sustaining collections and developing new business models.

Sustaining Data Repositories:
PI Workshop on Creating and Implementing Sustainability Plans

The objectives of this workshop were to identify challenges and opportunities specific to data repository sustainability, identify challenges and opportunities of implementing different sustainability models, and produce a process guide to help participants draft their own sustainability plans. Twenty-two data repository leaders from a variety of disciplines (including biology, geology, engineering, computer science, math/physical sciences, and social sciences) attended the workshop to identify challenges and opportunities specific to data repository sustainability and to brainstorm collaborative, creative solutions.

Participants, along with the help of our organizing committee and ESA staff, began working in earnest on a process guide to help data repository leaders draft their own sustainability plans. The process guide will is a step-by-step manual and includes links to helpful tools, templates, and case studies. This workshop was a direct outgrowth of the Science Office’s work on research infrastructure sustainability that began in 2010 and includes our Sustaining Biological Infrastructure Training Initiative.

Biofuels and Sustainability Reports 

In this series of four reports, sponsored by the Energy Foundation, we explore the production and use of biofuels from an ecological perspective. These reports were reviewed by an Advisory Committee and are based upon scientific manuscripts initially presented at a conference in Washington, DC, on March 10, 2008. The conference was hosted by the Ecological Society of America (ESA) and sponsored by a consortium of other scientific organizations, nongovernmental organizations, federal agencies, and the private sector. 

Report 1 – Biofuels: Implications for Land Use and Biodiversity. Virginia H. Dale, Keith L. Kline, John Wiens, and Joseph Fargione. January 2010.

Report 2 – Sustainable Biofuels from Forests: Meeting the Challenge. Marilyn A. Buford and Daniel G. Neary. February 2010.

Report 3 – Grasslands, Rangelands, and Agricultural Systems. Rob Mitchell, Linda Wallace, Wallace Wilhelm, Gary Varvel, and Brian Wienhold. March 2010.

Report 4 – Growing Plants for Fuel: Predicting Effects on Water, Soil, and the Atmosphere.  April 2010. G. Philip Robertson, Stephen K. Hamilton, Stephen J. Del Grosso, and William J. Parton.

SBI Report

In August 1988, ESA initiated an effort to define research priorities for ecology in the closing decade of the 20th Century. Facing finite financial resources and competing national demands, it was imperative that scientists define their research priorities. Additionally, there was an increasingly urgent call to address the rapidly changing environment and discover new ways to support a growing world population.

Fueled by these pressing needs, ESA led their members to action in defining the most urgent research needs to advance the field of ecology and global human needs. A committee of multi-disciplinary ecologists was established under Jane Lubchenko to prepare conclusions and recommendations regarding the most relevant areas of ecological research; including prioritization of research, education, and outreach. 

The resulting report, “The Sustainable Biosphere Initiative: An Ecological Research Agenda”, represents the findings of this committee as well as the broader ecological community. 

Data Sharing Initiative

Ready access to data is a key concern in both basic research and problem-solving in the biological sciences, as the scale and scope of the questions that researchers ask expand, and as global problems demand data collected from around the world. 

In September, 2004, ESA hosted a 3 day Society Summit meeting of participants in leadership roles of 12 major professional societies that publish ecology, evolution, and organismal biology journals. These workshops were intended to help the ecology, evolution, and organismal biology communities find common ground on how to make data more readily discoverable and accessible in their own disciplines.  Four follow-on workshops were then organized to further answer questions about logistics, obstacles, and incentives for data sharing.