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Call for Organized Oral Session Proposals

98th ESA Annual Meeting
Minneapolis, Minnesota
August 4 - 9, 2013

Call Open: Mid July - September 13, 2012

We invite proposals for organized oral sessions for the 98th ESA Annual Meeting. The meeting will be held August 4-9, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Organized oral sessions are organized around a specific topic with most of the speakers invited by the organizer. These sessions are distinguished from symposia in that 1) there is less emphasis on breadth of appeal and overall synthesis; 2) they may be comprised largely of related case studies; 3) talks are set at 15 minutes each, with 5 minutes following for discussion (as in contributed oral sessions); and 4) at least 2 time slots out of the 10 available in an organized oral session are reserved for placing related talks from the contributed abstracts by the Program Chair.

Organized oral sessions are limited to half-day sessions (3.5 hours long). Full day organized oral sessions will not be considered. Collaborating organizers may propose two sessions to address different aspects of a shared topic as long as the lead organizers are different for each session. Proposals addressing the meeting theme, “Sustainable Pathways: Learning From the Past and Shaping the Future” are especially welcome, but any timely and coherent subject of broad interest will be considered. We also welcome proposals that explore interdisciplinary connections with areas of social and natural science outside of ecology or that relate to ecological education at any level.

Applications must be received on or before Thursday, September 13, 2012. You must use the online submission site at that will be available from the ESA website ( as of mid July.

A. Evaluation Process and Criteria
B. Endorsements
C. Presentation Rules
D. If Your Proposal Is Accepted
E. Application Format
F. Cancellation Policy
G. Communication With Speakers
H. Summary of Deadlines
I. Begin Submission Process

A. Evaluation Process and Criteria

Organized oral session proposals will be assessed under the following criteria. Weighting of particular criteria may vary depending on the nature of proposals, but proposals should explicitly address these criteria, as appropriate.

Decisions will be made by December 13, 2012.
Scientific strength: Sessions may receive higher priority if they:

  • feature significant contributions to or advances in ecological understanding
  • present innovative and original work
  • provide examples of how ecological research benefited from attention to public policy concerns, outreach or educational activities.

Structure and organization: Strong proposals will describe sessions where:

  • individual talks clearly contribute to a coherent whole
  • the collection of speakers offers a range of perspectives; organizers should carefully avoid the appearance of biases toward their own perspectives

Integration: Proposals may receive higher priority if they are clearly linked to the meeting's overall theme, or to other sessions proposed for this meeting or presented at recent ESA meetings.

Speakers: Invited speakers may be a mix of well-established scientists, rising stars, and newcomers, but each speaker should bring new contributions to the session, not simply reviews of previous work. Inclusion of experienced or particularly engaging speakers can strengthen a proposal, but new voices are also important. Proposals with a larger proportion of confirmed speakers will be favored. Any proposals listing more than 8 speakers will be required to reduce the number to 8 as a condition of acceptance.

All speakers will be required to submit an abstract by the February 21, 2013, abstract submission deadline. The session organizer is responsible for ensuring that all abstracts are received by this date. Speakers who fail to submit an abstract on time will be removed from the session.

B. Endorsements

There are no endorsements of organized oral sessions.

C. Presentation Rules

In the interest of broadening participation, an individual is allowed to be an organizer (either a principal organizer or a co-organizer) for only one organized session (symposium, organized oral, organized poster).

An organizer of a symposium may serve as its moderator or speak in that symposium. The moderator for a symposium may not serve as a speaker in that symposium. The moderator may, however, be a speaker in another session.

Persons agreeing to present papers in organized oral sessions also should be aware that the one paper rule will be enforced. That is, anyone who is first author or presenter of an organized oral session paper cannot also be first author or presenter for another paper whether for a symposium, organized oral session, contributed oral session, or poster session. Organizers should make certain that speakers they recruit understand this rule and make no conflicting commitments. The one-paper rule does not apply to participants speaking in special sessions or workshops, or to plenary speakers.

There is an exemption to the one presentation rule for an author submitting an abstract for a second presentation IF the second abstract is directly related to ecology education, scientific outreach, or the history of ecology or ESA.

D. If Your Proposal Is Accepted

After organized oral sessions are accepted and the scheduling for the meeting is underway, cancellations and schedule changes are very disruptive to meeting planning. Hence, organized oral session organizers should obtain firm commitments from as many of their invited speakers as possible before submitting their proposal.

If a proposal is accepted, the organizer(s) must submit a final summary description of the organized oral session to the Program Coordinator in January. This summary will appear on the meeting website, should have a description written so as to stimulate interest and promote attendance by a general audience, and thus is different in focus from the longer description in the original proposal. This final summary must include a complete and current listing of organizers' names and their affiliations, addresses, telephone and fax numbers, and email addresses; a 250 word description of the session; a single-sentence (up to 50 words) description of the session; and a final, confirmed speaker list.

Organizers will be informed of their session’s time and date in February. Organized oral sessions may be scheduled for any oral session timeslot between Monday afternoon and Friday morning.  The program committee will attempt to avoid any overt conflicts between sessions and will give organizers an opportunity to notify us of known scheduling conflicts; however, we are unable to honor special scheduling requests. Organizers should inform their invited speakers that scheduling on any day of the conference is possible when asking speakers to commit to the session. We cannot schedule or move a session to accommodate the availability of speakers.

It is the responsibility of the organized oral session organizers to see that each speaker submits an individual abstract of his/her talk through the Abstract Submission site by the February 21 deadline. Speakers who fail to submit an abstract will be removed from the session.


E. Application Format

All proposals MUST follow the format of the online submission form on the ESA meeting website. Incomplete and inaccurate information provided on these forms may result in the proposal not being accepted.

Note that the following information must be entered on the  It is provided here to assist you in planning your submission. Also note that the web page format may differ slightly from the format listed here.

All proposals must include:

  • Title of organized oral session
  • Principal organizer (Name, institution or affiliation, email)
  • Co-organizers (Names, institutions or affiliations, email). Indicate which of the organizers will serve as moderator. The moderator may not serve as a speaker in the session.
  • Speakers (Names, affiliations, and tentative titles or topics). Indicate which speakers are confirmed and which are tentative.
  • Description (< 400 words) and justification (<250 words) of the session: Background information, goals, objectives, importance, and interest to the membership of ESA. The description should focus on the theme and structure of session (including anticipated sequence of speakers and topics), while the justification should focus on how the review criteria are met by the proposal and should not simply repeat the description. Keep in mind the evaluation criteria in preparing your description and justification.

When you submit your proposal on the website submission form, you will be automatically notified of receipt by an email sent to the address that you provide. If you do not receive such a notification, please contact Program Coordinator Jennifer Riem at to confirm that your proposal was received. Organizers of accepted proposals will be notified in February regarding the date and time for their sessions at the Annual Meeting. Organizers are responsible for notifying all participants in their symposium of the date, time, and place of the session.


F. Cancellation Policy

For Session Organizers.

Once an organized oral session has been accepted and listed on the meeting website, cancellation causes serious disruption of meeting planning. Do not submit a proposal if you are uncertain that you will be able to fulfill your obligation to organize and conduct the session.

For Speakers.

Before submitting an abstract, authors should be confident that they will attend the meeting and make the presentation.

If circumstances prevent attendance for a scheduled presentation, the presenting author should attempt to find another person to make the presentation on their behalf. A coauthor is ideal, but the substitute speaker does not necessarily need to be a coauthor. If you have arranged for a replacement speaker after May 15, you do not need to notify ESA and we cannot update the program. Please notify the session organizer.

If cancellation is unavoidable, the author should notify Jennifer Riem by email as soon as possible. Please let us know if you will not be able to present, even if you are cancelling on a date close to or during the Annual Meeting. If you are cancelling after May 1 and would like us to consider waiving the applicable penalties, please include a brief reason for the cancellation.

The deadline for cancellation without risk of penalty is May 1, 2013.  For more information on ESA’s cancellation policy, continue reading through the next section.

Penalties and Fees for Cancellations/No-Shows
Late cancellations and failures to give scheduled presentations (no shows) are disruptive and leave costly gaps in the program that are distracting to all attendees. Therefore, ESA has adopted the following cancellation policy and fee schedule (all values are in US dollars):

ESA’s late cancellation and no show policy:

  • In all cases where cancellation is unavoidable, the author should notify Jennifer Riem by email as soon as possible.
  • The deadline to cancel without penalty is May 1, 2013. After May 1, 2013 authors are charged a late cancellation fee.
  • After May 15, 2013, authors are charged a late cancellation fee and banned from presenting at the 2014 conference.
  • Presenting authors who do not notify ESA of cancellation and fail to present at the scheduled time (no shows) are at risk for the late cancellation fee and a 2 year presentation ban (2014-2015).
  • The late cancellation fee is $60.00 US Dollars for oral presentations and $40.00 US Dollars for poster presentations.


Exceptions: Cancellation fees and penalties may be waived for extenuating circumstances. Consideration will be made on a case by case basis. Please include a brief reason for the cancellation if you would like us to consider waiving the applicable penalties.

Fees for cancellations will be processed and decisions regarding bans from future meetings will be made after the Annual Meeting.


G. Communication with Speakers

If a proposal is accepted as a session, it is very important that the organizer communicates with speakers between December and August about the acceptance status of the session, the confirmation status of speakers, session scheduling information, and expectations for participation in the conference.

Please note that ESA is not able to provide any financial assistance, stipends, free registration, travel assistance, or paid lodging to symposium organizers or to individual symposium participants. Organizers are responsible for making this clear to their speakers.


H. Summary of Deadlines:

September 13, 2012: Deadline for proposal submission
December 13, 2012: Notification of acceptance sent out
January 14, 2013: Deadline to submit session revisions and confirmed speaker lists
February 14, 2013: Notification of scheduling (session date and time) sent out
February 21, 2013: Deadline for speakers to submit abstracts for their talks


Dr. Debra P. C. Peters
Research scientist, USDA ARS, Jornada Experimental Range
Principal Investigator, Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research Program
2995 Knox Street
Box 30003, MSC 3JER, NMSU
Las Cruces, NM USA 88003-0003
Phone: 575-646-2777
Fax: 575-646-5889

Jennifer Riem
Program Coordinator
Ecological Society of America
1990 M Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036 USA
Phone: (202) 833-8773 x 218
Fax: (202) 833-8775