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Call for Symposium Proposals

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

Call Open: Mid July - September 13, 2012
We invite proposals for symposia for the 98th ESA Annual Meeting. The meeting will be held August 4-9, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Symposia are the scientific centerpiece of the meeting. They will be assigned premium meeting space at the Portland Convention Center and will serve as the cornerstone for assembly of the scientific program. 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.

This meeting will include 24 symposia. Symposia are limited to half-day sessions (3.5 hours). Full-day symposia will not be considered. Collaborating organizers may propose two Symposia to address different aspects of a shared topic as long as the lead organizers are different for each session.  Each symposium will consist of 6 talks, each 30 minutes in length, followed by a 20 minute period devoted to synthesis, summary, and discussion. Proposals listing more or fewer than 6 speakers will not be considered.

Proposals 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

All proposals will be peer-reviewed and ranked by reviewers selected by the ESA Program Chair. The Program Chair may accept or decline your proposal, or offer you the opportunity to present your work in an alternative forum (organized oral session, workshop, or special session) during the Annual Meeting.

Decisions and alternative offers will be made by December 13, 2012.

Symposium proposals will be assessed using the following criteria. Weighting of particular criteria may vary depending on the nature of proposals, but proposals should explicitly address these criteria, as appropriate.           
Scientific strength: Symposia are the scientific centerpieces of the meeting, and should:

  • offer significant contributions to ecological understanding
  • present innovative or interdisciplinary approaches, including novel collaborations or syntheses across subdisciplines of ecology or with other related disciplines
  • provide examples of how ecological research benefited from attention to public policy concerns, outreach or educational activities
  • have broad enough appeal to generate large audiences (>250 people) at the meeting

Structure and organization: Symposia should be more explicitly integrated than other sessions, and should be structured to:

  • provide overall synthesis or overview; they should not be simply a set of related case studies
  • avoid taking a narrow perspective on the symposium topic; organizers should carefully avoid the appearance of biases toward their own perspectives
  • build a well-integrated whole; each talk should have clear relevance to the overall synthesis provided by the symposium


Integration: Proposals may receive higher priority if they are clearly linked to the meeting's overall theme, or if they offer particular value or insight in the context of other sessions proposed for this meeting or of symposia 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 among the 6 listed will be favored.

All speakers will be required to submit an abstract by the February 21, 2013 abstract submission deadline. The Symposium organizer is responsible for assuring that all abstracts are received by this date.

B. Endorsements

The Program Committee will take endorsements into consideration as they make acceptance decisions. Along with reviewer scores and comments, endorsements help the committee gauge the ecological community’s interest in the proposed sessions. Note that there is NO guarantee that a proposal endorsed by any group will be accepted. The overall strength of the proposal as indicated by its reviewers is more important.

Symposia can be endorsed by only internal bodies within ESA (sections, chapters, and standing committees). Non-ESA endorsements will not be considered. Endorsements by ESA groups will be considered in the review of proposals, particularly if they emphasize why the group finds merit (in terms of the evaluation criteria above) in the proposal. Each of these groups is allowed to provide a primary endorsement for only one proposal. To enhance interdisciplinary connections, groups may provide a secondary endorsement for up to two additional proposals. Symposium proposers, in requesting endorsements, should make this policy clear.

Individuals preparing letters of endorsement must submit them directly to the proposal submission site and make it clear as to whether it is a primary or secondary endorsement. Symposia proposers are required to provide the name, email, and group association of the person providing the letter of endorsement when submitting a proposal. The person sending the letter will then be sent an automatically generated email with instructions on how to submit the letter.

Since the proposal deadline is September 13, 2012, session proposers are advised to approach potential endorsers at least two weeks in advance of the submission deadline. Some sections and chapter chairs may be approached by multiple proposers and will need to decide which proposals will receive their primary and two secondary endorsements.


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.

Speakers agreeing to present papers in symposia also should be aware that the one presentation rule will be enforced. That is, anyone who is first author or presenter of a symposium 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 symposia are accepted and the scheduling for the meeting is underway, cancellations and schedule changes are very disruptive to meeting planning. Hence, symposium 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 and confirmed speaker list for the symposium to the Program Coordinator in January. This summary will appear on the meeting website and should be written so as to stimulate interest and promote attendance by a general audience, and thus is different in focus from the 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. Symposia 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 symposium 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 on time 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 in advance. Also note that the web page format may differ slightly from the format listed here.

All proposals must include:

  • Title of symposium
  • Principal organizer (Name, institution or affiliation, email) Note that this person is the point of contact for the session.
  • 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 symposium.
  • Speakers (Names, affiliations, emails, and tentative titles or topic areas). No more or less than 6 speakers should be listed. Indicate which speakers are confirmed and which are tentative.
  • Description (< 400 words) and justification (< 250 words) of the symposium: Background information, goals, objectives, importance, and interest to the membership of ESA. The description should focus on the theme and structure of the 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 the evaluation criteria in mind while 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 a symposium 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