Skip to main content



2009 Theoretical Ecology Section Report  
Ben Bolker

The Section was formed in 1993 to (1) foster theoretical research in all areas of ecology; (2) sponsor meetings for the presentation of results; (3) foster communication and research collaboration between theoreticians and experimental/field ecologists; (4) encourage the application of ecological theory to the resolution of societal problems.


Ben Bolker will be stepping down as Chair at the end of the Section’s business meeting in Albuquerque. Robin Snyder (the current Vice Chair) will take his place. Gregg Hartvigsen will be stepping down as Secretary after a 2-year term. The elections for next year’s Vice Chair and the next Secretary are in progress; the winner will be announced at the business meeting in Albuquerque.

Addendum: Kevin Gross was elected as the incoming Vice Chair, and Colin Kremer was elected to the position of Secretary.


The Theoretical Ecology Section awards the Alfred J. Lotka and Vito Volterra prizes for the best presentations given by students during the Annual Meeting of the ESA. The award is open to graduate or undergraduate student members of the ESA who, as sole or first author, present a talk or poster at the ESA Annual Meeting on original research in theoretical ecology. All suitable approaches that yield theoretical insight to ecological phenomena are considered. Prizes are awarded on the basis of merit, originality, and clarity of presentation. The winner of the Lotka award for the best poster in 2008 was Clay Cressler, a graduate student at the University of Michigan, for his poster “Foraging-predation risk tradeoff governs evolution of inducible defenses,” (with co-author Aaron King). The winner of the Volterra award for the best presentation was Vishwesha Guttal, a graduate student at Ohio State University, for his talk “Spatial indicators of catastrophic regime shifts in ecological systems” (with co-author C. Jayaprakash).


This year the Section is sponsoring a symposium at the Annual Meeting, “The interplay of ecology and evolution at ‘micro’ and ‘macro’ Scales: empirically-motivated theory”, organized by Jeremy Fox. The symposium brings together the traditional contrasts between microevolutionary (within-lineage) and macroevolutionary (lineage-level) theory and between microecological (few-species, single-site) and macroecological (many-species, across space) theory. Integrating micro- and macro-scale processes, and integrating ecology with evolution, are both challenging general problems: one promising way to tackle the problem is to use data from specific real-world systems to guide theory development and testing.

Finally, we would like to thank Springer for assisting with funding for the mixer, and Elsevier and Sinauer for donating journal subscriptions and books as prizes for the Lotka and Volterra awards.