105th Annual Meeting: Preview and highlights (Study)


The sessions and events on this curated list delve into 2020 meeting theme: Harnessing the Ecological Data Revolution. These presentations will be available for registered meeting attendees to view beginning on August 3, 2020.

Organized Oral Sessions

Harnessing the Data Revolution: Insights into Ecosystem Dynamics Enabled By New Instruments on the International Space Station

There is an unprecedented opportunity for ecologists to take advantage of data collected by new ecologically-focused instruments that are co-located on the International Space Station. Coordinated data from these instruments offer an opportunity to address ecosystem dynamics questions that cannot be answered with data from any one instrument and that have the potential to substantially enhance our understanding of ecosystem responses to global change. This session will include speakers who are using data collected from the International Space Station to address ecological questions of importance to society and policymakers.

Environmental Justice and Big Data as a Foundation for Developing Ecologically Literate and Resilient Communities

Communities and ecologists facing environmental justice and other socioecological issues can mutually benefit from utilizing big data. Communities in general, and cities in particular, are increasingly instrumented, interconnected and intelligent, with large data sets being drawn from a range of sources and shared among stakeholders. However, the general public often has difficulty accessing, analyzing and interpreting the data, which poses critical challenges in gaining support to implement data-driven decisions. Inequities may also arise when data sets are only reflective of and accessible to groups in power. The persistent resistance by a large fraction of voters and politicians in addressing major ecological issues demonstrates the need for public engagement and inclusion if we are to achieve the benefits of these large data sets. Presentations in this session explore case studies, best practices and challenges to more inclusively engage students and the general public with ecologists in collecting, analyzing, interpreting and applying large data sets to address socioecological issues.



Invasive Species and Infectious Diseases: Interactive Effects in Ecological Communities

Invasive species and infectious diseases are two of the world’s greatest ecological challenges. While the conceptual overlap between invasion biology and disease ecology is relatively clear, the combined effects of diseases and species invasions on ecological communities, and how they affect each other, are not well understood. In this symposium, speakers will present novel empirical studies on a range of systems in which invasion biology and disease ecology intersect and will explore processes structuring the formation and impact of pathogen communities in invaded systems.

The Role of Bio-Cultural Indicator Frameworks in Understanding Ecosystem Complexity

One claimed characteristic of Indigenous knowledge is that it is holistic and complete in its understanding of the interconnectedness of all things, as opposed to the compartmentalized approach adopted by science. Can Indigenous knowledge systems provide a unifying epistemology that communicates the interconnectedness of all things within an ecosystem, accommodates worldview differences of stakeholders, and seamlessly combines Indigenous and scientific data in a way that can accurately reflect or predict ecosystem behavior? This symposium shares the progress in addressing ecosystem complexity challenges in several research projects being conducted by Māori researchers in New Zealand, including disaster-response research on the Rena oil spill, decision-support tools for the geothermal development industry, and land-use visualization for tribal farming operations.


Inspire sessions

Data for All: Data Science Education As a Pathway for Diversity and Inclusion in Ecology

Data science education is uniquely positioned to lead diversity and inclusion efforts in ecology. Large ecological data sets and the software most often used to analyze this data are free and open source, which removes important barriers to conducting meaningful ecological research for many groups that are traditionally underrepresented in ecology. Data science skills are also widely transferrable to many different career paths within ecology, which allows for a wider range of career options within ecology for students. During this session, presenters will share novel examples for promoting diversity and inclusion through data science education with ecological applications and discuss ideas for training the next generation of ecologists to work with “big data.”

Better Living Through Pharma-Ecology: What It Takes to Tackle Emerging Contaminants

The term “emerging contaminants” is used to describe numerous chemicals associated with the modern human lifestyle that have inadvertently worked their way into terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. As humans have developed new treatments for diseases, safer cosmetics, and more potent pesticides, we have also created new pollutants, which are having significant unintended consequences on organismal and ecosystem health. In this Inspire session, speakers will present novel research on the ecological effects of several key emerging contaminants, including opioids, veterinary antibiotics, human-use antibiotics and insecticides, from microbial to ecosystem scales.


Special sessions

Experimental Approaches to Measure the Social and Ecological Benefits of Urban Trees

Many cities have plans to increase tree numbers and canopy cover. However, cities often struggle to articulate the social and ecological benefits of trees. Advances in experimental urban socioecological research are needed to understand the combined social and ecological benefits of trees. Experimentally measuring the ecological and social effects of urban tree loss can tell us a great deal about socioecological benefits. This session will be a dynamic exchange and collaborative conversation among researchers from different cities and disciplines about innovative experimental approaches to understand the combined social and ecological benefits of urban trees.

Open Minds for Open Science

Ecologists are on the threshold of profound changes in the scientific process. Transdisciplinary scientific discovery and communication can be significantly accelerated through the open science paradigm. Huge advances can be gained by embracing transparency and accessibility. Yet evolving from ownership of ideas and outcomes to the open science framework redefines the business of science. This session will welcome and highlight new ideas, connections, challenges and opportunities around these questions. Speakers will provide diverse perspectives on the process of open science, opportunities through social media, means of data sharing, frontiers of data education and the power of network science.



Working Together For A Better Future: How to Establish and Maintain Successful and Durable Partnerships between Indigenous Communities and Non-Indigenous Collaborators

There are 570 sovereign tribal nations in the United States, and more than 600 First Nations in Canada. Because of their deep roots on the continent and their fraught history with European colonization, Indigenous communities present a unique situation for non-Indigenous scientists or agencies who seek to establish relationships and collaborations with Native American tribes and First Nations of Canada. Indigenous communities have legitimate concerns about the motives of external parties and sensitivities of non-Indigenous actors to local values, cultures, and knowledges. This workshop will provide guidance, best practices and case studies on establishing respectful and mutually beneficial relationships and collaborative research and solutions to shared concerns, and will be led by tribal scientists, agency liaisons, and ecological professionals with extensive experience working with tribes/First Nations.

Breaking the Math-Anxiety Cycle to Facilitate Undergraduate Learning with Ecological Data

Student attitudes and confidence are often a barrier to effective teaching with ecological data. Students’ mathematics anxiety and lack of confidence can lead to decreased performance, in a cycle where students with negative math experiences are then reluctant to engage with new quantitative content, leading to further negative experiences. Fortunately, strategies to increase student comfort with quantitative content can help students successfully engage with ecological data. In this workshop, participants will explore short, hands-on materials that address mathematics attitudes by increasing students’ expectations of success. These materials were developed for the Biology Students Math Anxiety and Attitudes Program, and use a range of pedagogical strategies including methods specifically targeted for retention of underrepresented students in the sciences.



2020 Virtual Annual Meeting

Harnessing the ecological data revolution

August 3 – 6, 2020

Ecologists from around the world will gather online this August for the 105th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. The plenary talks and select panels will be aired live with Q&A. Other sessions will be available for viewing on demand with asynchronous Q&A. Presenters also have the option to host a live Q&A with viewers.

The opening plenary will feature Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Officer, Lucas Joppa. He will discuss the advances in computing and data infrastructure that ecologists can use to address the existential challenges of responding to changing climates, ensuring resilient water supplies, sustainably feeding a rapidly growing human population and stemming an ongoing global loss of biodiversity.

Meeting plenaries and symposia will explore the meeting theme “Harnessing the ecological data revolution.” Like many science fields, ecological research is being flooded by diverse and data-rich sources of information, which is opening new avenues of research but also creating new challenges for ecologists. Scientific sessions will explore new and integrative approaches used to understand pressing ecological issues.

ESA invites press and institutional public information officers to attend for free. To apply, please contact ESA Public Information Manager Heidi Swanson directly at [email protected].



The Ecological Society of America, founded in 1915, is the worlds largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society‘s Annual Meeting attracts 3,000 – 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in ecological science. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.




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