“Linking biodiversity, material cycling and ecosystem services in a changing world”: Reflections and reactions to ESA 2017

Journal of Ecology was well represented at the 2017 annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America with Senior Managing Editor Andrea Baier on the BES stand in the convention hall, and several Associate Editors joining me for a board meeting and dinner, in prowling the halls, networking, and attending and giving presentations.

I survived my first Ignite presentation “What are ecotypes adapted to? Insights from common garden experiments across geographic gradients” in a session on “Multiple Common Garden Experiments for Meeting Restoration Challenges: Difficulties and Potential Pitfalls” – my slides available here. If you’ve not given an Ignite format presentation before, I recommend it. Five minutes, twenty slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds leads to a lot of stress and nerves beforehand. But giving the presentation is a real charge and over in a flash.

I took the opportunity to chat with Caroline Brophy and Frida Piper, two of the journal Associate Editors that attended the meeting, and podcasts of these interviews are below. Each have recently published in the Journal (Brophy et al., 2017 and Fajardo & Piper 2017), and they discussed their work and the reaction to the ESA meeting with me.

fridapiper and carolinebrophy

Frida Piper and Caroline Brophy

My own reaction to the meetings is that I was inspired by the wide range of ecological work being presented. I dipped into many different types of sessions from Thomas Lovejoy’s plenary warning about the dangers of climate change (“The prospect of a 2 degree C increase [in global temperature] should make your blood run cold”), to narrowly focused papers on niche relationships, the response of communities to fire, and the value of traditional knowledge in helping understand ecological interactions. I focused where possible on studies investigating functional trait and phylogenetic diversity as that’s a current interest of mine.

My award for the best presentation I saw goes to Anna Johnson’s talk (see image below), “The independent and interactive effects of plant functional and phylogenetic diversity on urban ecosystem services” which reported on a novel experiment that manipulated functional trait and phylogenetic diversity of seed mixes sown into abandoned city lots.


I also learned a few lessons such as when inviting a speaker to submit their work to the journal – check first that they didn’t just have that work rejected from the journal….

David Gibson, Executive Editor, Journal of Ecology

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