Call for Contributed Oral Abstracts

A power point presentation before an audience by an ESA member.

2020 ESA Annual Meeting

Salt Lake City, Utah
August 2 – 7, 2020
Deadline: 5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific)
Thursday, February 20, 2020

Submissions 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.

ESA meetings, open to ESA members and those interested in ecology, are among the most respected meetings of ecologist in the science community. ESA is committed to providing a safe, productive and welcoming environment for all meeting participants and ESA staff. All participants including, but not limited to attendees, speakers, volunteers, exhibitors, ESA staff, service providers, and others are expected to abide by the ESA Meetings Code of Conduct.  This Code of Conduct applies to all ESA meeting-related events including those sponsored by organizations other than ESA but held in conjunction with ESA events, in public or private facilities. In addition, ESA members and authors of ESA publications must adhere to the ESA Code of Ethics.

Before You Begin

Please read and follow the abstract guidelines carefully. They are provided here as a guide to help you plan in advance. You can start your submission, save your progress, and then return to complete it at any time before the deadline has passed. A login and password will be automatically emailed to you when you begin an abstract submission. You may log in to view your abstract at any time by logging in here.

If this is your first time submitting an abstract for an ESA meeting, we suggest reading some contributed abstracts from a previous meeting. Abstracts from recent meetings are available online (2019, 2018, 2017). If you are a student, we strongly encourage you to work closely with your faculty adviser as you develop your abstract. If you encounter problems during abstract submission, email Jennifer Riem and include the abstract ID number.

Submissions will open January 2nd

About Contributed Oral Abstracts

We invite submission of abstracts for contributed oral presentations for the 2020 ESA Annual Meeting. Abstracts are encouraged to address the meeting theme “Harnessing the ecological data revolution” if appropriate but doing so is not necessary. We welcome submissions that report interdisciplinary work, address communication with broad audiences, or explore ways of teaching ecology at any level. New in 2020, contributed oral presentations are scheduled for 15-minute timeslots; 12 minutes are allowed for each presentation plus 3 minutes for questions. Individually submitted contributed abstracts will be grouped together to create sessions organized around a common theme. Abstract authors will rank their preferred session themes as part of the abstract submission process. Each contributed talk may be scheduled Monday afternoon through Thursday afternoon. By submitting an abstract, the presenting author is indicating that they will be available during any of the possible time slots.

New in 2020

The meeting program in 2020 will have some new and exciting changes to improve the overall experience for attendees and presenters.

Changes that will affect contributed oral sessions include:

  • More focused sessions: Shorter oral and poster sessions (90 minutes).
  • More time to network: Longer coffee breaks (30 minutes).
  • Easier to follow schedule: One consistent schedule for all oral session types.
  • Shorter talks: 15 minutes for contributed & organized oral, 20 minutes for symposia.
  • Fewer conflicts: No overlap between talks and posters.
  • No Friday presentations: Talks and posters will be scheduled Monday–Thursday.
  • More time for hands-on learning: Workshops, short courses, and field trips added on Friday.
  • New abstract submission fee: All talks are $60, all posters are FREE. Submitters who lack funding to cover the fee will be able to opt out when submitting an abstract for a talk.


Abstract Submission Guidelines

Abstract guidelines

  • The body of the abstract is up to 400 words, split between the two sections (up to 200 words each): 1) Background/Question/Methods, in which the objective of the study is clearly identified and the methods are described; and 2) Results/Conclusions, in which specific results of the study are explicitly reported and their implications for ecology are briefly discussed.
  • The abstract must primarily report on new work within the field of ecology.
  • Reviews of previous work are not permissible for contributed presentations.
  • The abstract must report specific results. The results may be preliminary, but they may not be vague. Abstracts without explicitly stated results will be rejected.
  • It is understandable that abstracts describing non-traditional work may lack quantitative data; however, it is still expected that the abstract will address some question and have a “take-home message” describing specific findings.
  • Abstracts must be clear. Poorly written abstracts will be rejected.
  • Abstracts must be written in English and must follow standard grammar and punctuation rules. Abstracts that do not meet this guideline will be rejected.

Helpful information about abstract entry

  • For every author listed, their name, institution, and email are required information.
  • Missing coauthors are a very common issue. Be sure to check to make sure everyone has been included. This is under People, the second step in the process. You can follow your progress at the top of the screen.
  • The presenting author is the corresponding author who will receive all communications, including acceptance and scheduling notifications, from ESA. In order to receive notifications from us on time, it is important to make sure the correct person is indicated and that their email is entered correctly.
  • Any author can be designated as the presenting author. The first author is designated by default, and this can be adjusted by editing the author list. The presenting author’s name will appear in bold text.

Session assignment

During abstract submission, you will be asked to rank 3 themes to guide the grouping of your presentation into a session with similar presentations. Consider the themes carefully.

Each contributed talk may be scheduled Monday through Thursday. By submitting an abstract, you are indicating you will be available during any of the possible time slots.

One presentation rule

Each person is allowed to submit only one abstract where they are listed as presenting author. This rule is enforced in order to encourage broad participation. You may present a poster or a talk, not both. This rule does not apply to coauthors. An author may be the presenting author on two abstracts only if one of the abstracts primarily reports on ecology education/outreach or is for an Inspire presentation.

Abstract Fee and Talk Recording

There is a $60 abstract fee for any presenter submitting an abstract for a talk with an opt-out alternative for anyone who does not have funding to cover the fee. Abstract fees will allow the Society to explore using new technological tools and address growing interest in digital content while maintaining a budget that continues to support core administration costs for abstract submission.

As part of this digital exploration, ESA will pilot the recording of oral presentations in 2020. Talks presented within contributed oral sessions (COS) will be included in the pilot. The audio for each recorded talk will be captured along with the slide content, including slide transitions. Only presenters who wish to participate will be recorded. Any presenter will be able to opt out of being recorded. Recorded talks will be available in the online program (web app) a few weeks after the conference.

After Submission

Abstract review

Peer reviewers will rate abstracts using the abstract guidelines included in this call. The ratings and comments provided by peer reviewers will inform the acceptance decisions made by the Program Subcommittee.

Editing abstracts

Light editing of accepted abstracts will be available for a short window (2-3 weeks) after the acceptance notifications are sent. All presenting authors will receive instructions and a specific deadline by email. Edits are not possible outside the May editing window.

Meeting registration

The presenting author of every accepted abstract is required to register for the meeting and will be reminded to do so in meeting correspondence. Submitting an abstract does not register you for the meeting. Registration is a separate process that will open in April.


When submitting an abstract, presenters should be reasonably confident that they will attend the meeting and give the presentation as scheduled. The presenting author should notify ESA as soon as possible if a presentation needs to be cancelled. Please cancel by May 1 at the very latest to minimize gaps in the final meeting program.

Student Presentation Award

Murray F. Buell Award for Excellence in Ecology

Murray F. Buell had a long and distinguished record of service and accomplishment in the Ecological Society of America. Among other things, he ascribed great importance to the participation of students in meetings and to excellence in the presentation of papers. To honor his selfless dedication to the younger generation of ecologists, the Murray F. Buell Award is given to a student for the outstanding oral paper presented at the ESA Annual Meeting. If you are a student (undergraduate or graduate) who is the presenting author of a presentation, you are eligible to be considered. Talks will be judged on significance of ideas, creativity, quality of methodology, validity of conclusions drawn from results, and clarity of presentation. The students selected for these awards will be announced in the ESA Bulletin after the Annual Meeting. A certificate and a check for $500 will be presented to the recipient at the following ESA Annual Meeting. While all students are encouraged to apply, winning papers and posters typically describe fully completed projects.

How to apply

The deadline to apply is Thursday, February 27, 2020 at 5:00 pm Eastern Time (2:00 pm Pacific Time).

To apply for the award, you must have already submitted an abstract, and please note the abstract ID number that you received in your confirmation email. Then, submit an online application by the deadline. You must complete the entire application in order to be considered. To see the application requirements before applying, visit this page.

Presentation Guidelines

Contributed oral presentations are scheduled for 15-minute timeslots. 12 minutes are allotted for each presentation plus 3 minutes for questions. Time limits will be strictly enforced by the session presider, who will warn each speaker when they are approaching their time limit.

You may end before 12 minutes to allow more discussion but you should not run over this time. The 3-minute period between talks belongs to the audience, not to the speaker. This period allows for questions, discussion, and a smooth transition to the next speaker. Q&A will be managed by the session presider.

Plan to arrive at your session room 15 minutes in advance of your session. This time is for checking in with the session presider and transferring your presentation to the laptop in the room. A student A/V volunteer will be available to assist you.

Technical information

We realize that losing speaking time due to technical glitches or other problems is a frustrating and stressful experience. This information is provided to presenters in advance in order to help minimize problems on the day of the presentation. Because we are offering presenters the option to record their talk this year, some of our A/V guidelines have changed.

  • Microsoft PowerPoint is the recommended format. Mac users may use a PDF file if that works better.
  • Standard (4:3) aspect ratio works best for our screens.
  • Each meeting room will be equipped with a dedicated LCD projector and PC laptop. The laptop will be running Windows 7 with MS Office 2010 Suite.
  • Please use the dedicated laptop in the room. Recording software will be set up on this computer, and disconnecting it from the projector could be disruptive for other presentations.
  • Please use the provided microphone to ensure that the audience can hear you. If you are being recorded, it also endures we can capture your audio to synchronize with your slides.
  • You will have three options for loading your talk into our system.  You will be able to opt in or out of being recorded for every option.
    • Option 1: Online in advance of the meeting. We recommend this option only if you have been recorded using Podium at a recent conference and are familiar with it.
    • Option 2 (Recommended): In person in a Speaker Ready Room at least one day before your presentation. Bring your presentation on a USB flash drive.
    • Option 3: In the session room 15 minutes before your session begins. Bring your presentation on a USB flash drive.
  • The Speaker Ready Room option is strongly recommended since recording is new for this meeting. You will be able to check how your presentation will appear in our recording software and make any needed adjustments while A/V staff are present to offer assistance.
  • We especially recommend uploading your slides in person in the Speaker Ready Room if you created your slides on a Mac or are using a format other than PowerPoint.
  • You may sign up for a time to upload your presentation at the Information Desk.
  • There will be audio capability in each room for presentations playing files with sound (video files, audio files).
  • Complimentary wireless internet will be available in session rooms. However please note that if your presentation will feature content such as a video or sound file, we strongly recommend embedding it into your presentation if you are being recorded. If you exit your presentation to play an outside file (in a web browser or elsewhere), there will be a gap in the recording.
  • Remote slide advancers (clickers) with laser pointers will be available in each session room.

Important Dates

February 20, 2020 Abstract submission deadline.
April 16, 2020 Notification of acceptance sent to presenting author.
May 1, 2020 Deadline to cancel an abstract. This is also the deadline to make minor edits.
May 21, 2020 Notification of scheduling (session date and time) sent to presenting author.


Dr. Kiona Ogle
Program Chair
School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems
Northern Arizona University
Flagstaff, AZ
Phone: (928) 523-6200


Jennifer Riem
Science Programs Coordinator
Ecological Society of America
1990 M Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036 USA
Phone: (202) 833-8773 x 218