Call for Contributed Poster Abstracts

A group of ecologist discuss an informal poster session with the presenter.

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 Poster Abstracts

We invite submission of abstracts for contributed poster 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. Posters presentations are two hours long and give presenters an opportunity for extended discussion and networking. Individually submitted contributed abstracts will be grouped together to create poster sessions organized around a common theme. Abstract authors will rank their preferred session themes as part of the abstract submission process. Poster sessions are 5:00-6:30 pm Monday through Wednesday. By submitting an abstract, a presenting author is indicating 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 poster 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.
  • 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 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): Background/Question/Methods, in which the objective of the study is clearly identified and the methods are described; and 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 talks and posters.
  • 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 rank 3 themes to guide the grouping of your presentation into a session with similar presentations. Consider the themes carefully.

Poster sessions are Monday-Wednesday, 5:00-6:30 PM. 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 Poster Sharing

There is no abstract fee to submit an abstract for a poster. This year we will offer poster presenters the opportunity to upload their poster to be made available in the online program a few weeks after the conference. Sharing your poster in the online program is optional.

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

Lucy Braun, an eminent plant ecologist and one of the charter members of the Society, studied and mapped the deciduous forest regions of eastern North America and described them in her classic book The Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America. To honor her, the E. Lucy Braun Award is given to a student for the outstanding poster presentation 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. Papers and posters 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

  • Poster sessions are 5:00-6:30 PM Monday through Wednesday, with a different set of posters scheduled every day.
  • Poster presenters are required to be present for the duration of their scheduled 90 minute session.
  • Presenters are encouraged to hang their posters before the Exhibit Hall opens at 11:00 AM on the day of their presentation. This allows attendees to browse posters throughout the day. Poster presenters will be able to enter each morning to hang their posters before the hall opens (make sure you are wearing your badge).
  • Each presenter should remove their poster at the end of the poster session.
  • Poster sessions provide an opportunity for extended discussion and networking. A cash bar and complimentary light snacks will be available.
  • There is no poster size requirement except that the poster fits on the provided board. Poster boards are landscape format with dimensions 8 ft wide x 4 feet tall (2.4 m wide x 1.2 m tall). The poster is NOT required to take up all of the space provided, only to fit comfortably within that space. In practice most posters are smaller than the board, typically in the 4-5 ft wide x 3-4 ft tall range.
  • Pushpins are the only method allowed for attaching the poster to the board. These will be supplied on site.
  • Poster presenters may not use audio-visual equipment. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate the space and logistical requirements for such equipment.
  • Poster presenters are welcome to bring handouts, such as 8.5×11 copies of their posters. We recommend bringing an envelope for any handouts that can be attached to the poster board using pushpins.

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