The Theoretical Ecology Section

About the Section

The Theoretical Ecology Section is one of the most rapidly growing organizations within the Ecological Society of America.
The Section was formed in 1993 to:

    1. 1. Foster theoretical research in all areas of ecology;
    1. 2. Sponsor meetings for the presentation of results;
    1. 3. Foster communication and research collaboration between theoreticians and experimental/field ecologists;
    1. 4. Encourage the application of ecological theory to the resolution of societal problems.

The section sponsors a mixer and best student talk and poster awards at the annual ESA meetings, as well as a best paper award, to facilitate interaction among new and established theoreticians.

To join us, you must first be a member of ESA. You can enroll online here, selecting “Theoretical Ecology” in “Section V”.

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: 2018 Best Theory Paper Award

The Theoretical Ecology Section of the ESA sponsors an annual award for an outstanding published paper in ecological theory. Nominations for the 2018 award are now open and will be accepted through Monday, May 7th.

Papers with a print or electronic publication date in either 2016 or 2017 are eligible for the 2018 award. Any paper focusing on ecological theory can be nominated. The nominated paper does NOT need to be published in an ESA journal. We especially encourage nomination of papers with graduate students or postdocs as the first author, or very early career scientists as the first or senior author, as the award has traditionally been given to such papers.

To submit a nomination, please fill out the following google form:

Nominees need not be section or society members, but nominations should be made by members of the theory section. Self nominations are fine.

Award recipients will be recognized at the section mixer at the 2018 ESA meeting in New Orleans. The prize that comes with the award is a book on or related to ecological theory (up to a value of $200) that is chosen by the recipients of the award. (The book will go to the first author of the paper; if there are multiple authors that contributed equally, more than one book can be chosen, as long as the total cost is below $200).

More information about the section’s awards and past recipients can be found at:

We look forward to receiving your nominations!

Congratulations to the 2017 Best Theory Paper Award Winners!

We are pleased to announce the winners of the best theory paper award for 2017.  The award goes to Andrew D. Letten, Po-Ju Ke, and Tadashi Fukami for their paper entitled “Linking modern coexistence theory and contemporary niche theory” published in Ecological Monographs (2017, 87: 161-177).

This paper synthesizes the two dominant frameworks describing the niche’s role in species coexistence: modern coexistence theory and contemporary niche theory. Despite shared goals, the compatibility and complementarity of these two frameworks has received remarkably little attention. The authors demonstrate, for a general consumer-resource model, how one can translate the three criteria for species coexistence of contemporary niche theory (i.e. resource supply ratio, impact niche, and requirement niche) into the stabilizing and equalizing processes of modern coexistence theory. The paper is written in accessible prose, and draws useful connections with empirical work. By presenting the two frameworks side by side, this paper clarifies the scope and direction of existing research on these two dominant approaches to species coexistence.

The award consists of  one or more books on or related to ecological theory (from any publisher), up to a total value of $200, supported by section funds.

We received a number of oustanding nominations for the award this year. Thanks to everyone who submitted nominations. The committee enjoyed reading and discussion all of the papers.

Please join us in congratulating Andrew, Po-Ju, and Tadashi!


Congratulations to the 2016 Lotka and Volterra Award Winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Lotka and Volterra Awards for the best theoretical poster and talk presentations, respectively!

Gregory Backus, a graduate student at North Carolina State University, received the Lotka Award for his poster presentation entitled “Genetically engineered mice for eradicating invasive mouse populations: Estimating the efficiency and ecological impacts”. His co-author was Kevin Gross.

Nikunj Goel, a graduate student at Yale University, received the Volterra Award for his talk entitled “Spatiotemporal dynamics of savanna-forest distribution”. His co-authors were Vishwesha Guttal, Thierry Emonet, Simon A Levin and A Carla Staver.

Congratulations to both of them for clearly presenting interesting and original research, and thanks to all the Lotka and Volterra awards judges for their time!



Last updated on: April 16, 2018

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