Frequently Asked Questions

General information
What to expect on site
Children and families
Press, social media, and recording presentations
Questions on site

General information

Where is the 2014 Annual Meeting?
The 2014 Annual Meeting will be at the Sacramento Convention Center. Some scientific sessions and social events will located in hotels that are very close.

When does the Annual Meeting begin and end?
The meeting runs Sunday, August 10 through Friday, August 15. The scientific program begins Sunday evening with the Opening Plenary at 5 pm and concludes at noon on Friday. Weekend events (workshops and field trips) also take place on Saturday and Sunday (August 9 and 10). Organized and contributed paper sessions are Monday afternoon through Friday morning. Organized and contributed poster sessions are Monday through Thursday in the late afternoon, with the exception of Latebreaking Posters which are on Friday morning.

Do I need to be a member to attend?
No, but the registration rates are reduced for members.

I’m an invited speaker. Do I need to register to attend?
Yes. This is true for all speakers as well as attendees who are not presenting. Sorry, we can’t waive or reduce registration for speakers since most of our attendees do present. We have over 500 invited speakers every year.

Does ESA offer travel support?
Sorry, we aren’t able to offer travel support for attendees. However many of our sections offer competitive awards to help attendees (often students) studying a specific topic pay their way. We don’t recommend relying on them for your travel budget though. They’re meant to help someone who is already able to attend stretch their budget a little farther, not fund an entire trip.

When will the program be posted online?

Usually a partial preliminary program (most sessions except the contributed sessions) is available in March and a complete preliminary program is available by early June. The online program becomes final a little later in June.

Is there a meeting app?
Yes, we will provide a meeting app for the first time this year. It will contain all of the scientific program details from the print program, all of the abstracts, maps, exhibit information, and more. It will also synch with the personal scheduler that we have used in previous years. The personal scheduler will be available online first, and any scheduling information you save there can be quickly imported to the app once it is available for download later.

Will there be wireless coverage this year?
Yes, within certain common areas and most session rooms within the convention center. Sessions held in the hotels (some scientific sessions and social events) will not have wireless coverage.

What are some fun things to do in and around Sacramento?
The city of Sacramento has put together a guide for ESA attendees. You can check it out here.


What are the different abstract types? Which one is mine?
This is explained in some detail here.

When is the deadline for abstracts? Can I submit later?

The deadline for all abstracts is Thursday, February 27. Our deadlines are firm. If you miss the deadline then you can still submit for the Latebreaking poster deadline which will be Thursday, May 8. All submission deadlines are 5:00 pm Eastern. Late abstracts will NOT be accepted for any deadline.

My research will be in progress when abstracts are due in February. Can I submit an abstract for August?
You may report preliminary results for the February deadline. Preliminary means that the results described so far are only part of the story and that the specifics of the findings may change upon further analysis. Preliminary does not mean the results are vague or in future tense (Ex: “Samples differed in species count and diversity. Details will be reported at the conference.”). Abstracts that do not report at least preliminary results by the submission deadline will be rejected.

If you are unable to report some results by the February deadline but will be able to do so by May 8, you should submit to the Latebreaking Poster session. If do not have some results to report by May 8, we hope to see you present at next year’s conference.

Does submitting an abstract register me for the Annual Meeting?
No. Meeting registration is a separate process that is required for all presenters and opens in April.

When will I receive notification of my abstract acceptance?
All presenting authors except for Latebreaking Posters will be notified of acceptance by April 17, 2014. Latebreaking Poster authors will be notified by June 5, 2014.

When will I receive notification of the day and time of my presentation?
Presenting authors will be notified of their session scheduling (day of week, session title, session time) by May 22, 2014. A preliminary schedule which includes poster numbers and the timing of talks in sessions will be posted on the conference website soon after the scheduling notification has been sent out. (The notification email will include more specific information about when to expect that). All schedule details are typically final by mid June.

I submitted an abstract before the deadline but have received no correspondence about it by the notification deadline.
Occasionally we encounter a problem with an organization’s spam filter, but usually the problem is a mistake in the presenting author’s email address (a typo or outdated address entered during abstract submission). Sometimes one of the coauthors was listed as the presenting author by mistake. Contact Jennifer Riem to have any notification emails resent.

How do I know my abstract submission is complete and was received on time? Can I make changes to the abstract information?
When you begin your abstract submission, you will receive an automatic email with brief instructions on how to log back in to edit your abstract. You may use the login information in the email to edit your abstract through the submission deadline.

When your submission is complete (after the final confirmation stage), you’ll receive a second automatic email summarizing your submission. You may use your login information to view your abstract after the submission deadline, but you may not edit the abstract at that point. There will be an opportunity to edit accepted abstracts in late April.

How do I cancel my abstract?
To withdraw your abstract, you must notify Jennifer Riem. You will be notified when your abstract has been withdrawn from the program. You must cancel by May 1 in order to avoid any penalties.

Presenting at the Meeting

What size is a poster board?
Each presenter is provided with a 4 ft high by 8 ft wide poster board (1.2 m by 2.4 m). Poster boards have a 2.5 cm (1 in.) frame. Posters must be able to fit on the board but can be any size within these maximum dimensions.

How long is a talk?
Most talks (contributed and organized oral) are 20 minutes long. This is 15 minutes for the talk and 5 minutes for Q&A and transition to the next speaker.

Symposium talks are longer – 30 minutes total, 25 minutes for the talk and 5 minutes for Q&A and transition to the next speaker.

Ignite talks are only 5 minutes. No time to lose your train of thought with these!

Where and when do I hang up my poster?
All poster session will be in the Exhibit Hall. Every poster presenter will receive specific instructions, including their board number, in an email over the summer before the meeting. If you’ve lost the email instructions, locate your poster listing in the online or print program to find your board number. Each poster is listed by session with a numbering system that lists the session number first and the board number second. For example,if the program listing says PS 1-25, that poster should go on board #25.

The Monday through Thursday poster sessions are 4:30-6:30 PM. It’s best to hang your poster in the morning on the day of your presentation, and you will need to take it down immediately once the session is over. It is best to hang your poster before the Exhibit Hall opens (before 11:30 AM). This allows attendees to drop into the Exhibit Hall and read it throughout the afternoon. Talks start at 8 AM, so we recommend hanging your poster on your way to the morning session between 7 and 8 in the morning. You will be able to enter the hall starting at 7 AM as long as you are wearing your ESA badge and carrying a poster tube.

I’m giving an Ignite talk. How does that work?
Each Ignite talk will feature 20 slides that advance automatically every 15 seconds. We’ll make sure the session organizer, moderator, and A/V volunteer all have instructions on how to set a PowerPoint presentation to automatically advance. It’s not difficult, we promise. We will also send the instructions to every presenter in advance so that you can practice your talk using the automated timings. Unfortunately you will need to use PowerPoint for this particular format to work smoothly.

I have more detailed questions about setting up my poster or talk.

More detailed information about what to expect when presenting a talk or a poster is available in the contributed abstract call (click the “Presentation Guidelines” tab). We’re repeating only a few basic answers on this page.

For Students

Is there an award for best student presentation? How do I apply?
Yes! There are two awards, one for best talk (Buell Award) and one for best poster (Braun award). The deadline is March 1 and the application instructions are explained here (under Buell & Braun Awards). It’s pretty simple to apply: just send a one page application, a copy of your abstract, and a short essay (250 words or less) explaining why your research advances ecology to the awards email address by March 1. There are also a number of Section awards available to students. More information on those awards is available here (click the Chapter/Section Awards tab).

What opportunities are there to help students cover meeting expenses?

To help with meeting expenses, ESA offers students the opportunity to volunteer at the Annual Meeting. In exchange for 14 hours of volunteer service, ESA will refund volunteers’ Early Bird registration fee.  See the next question for more information about volunteering.

How and when do I apply to volunteer? What is involved?

Student volunteers perform various jobs to help the meeting run smoothly. Typical tasks include serving as a projectionist for sessions, providing information to attendees at the Info Desk, and providing assistance at Registration. Student volunteers must complete at least 14 hours of volunteer service to receive a be eligible for their early bird registration fees.

In order to be considered for a volunteer assignment, you must: 1) be a current student, 2) register for the Annual Meeting by the Early Bird registration deadline, and 3) submit a complete student volunteer application by the Early Bird deadline. The Early Bird deadline is June 19 this year. Availability is a key consideration in volunteer selection, so having an open schedule increases the likelihood you will be chosen. More information is here.

What are some of the student events at the meeting?
Student events will be highlighted in more detail in the official meeting program, but here’s a preview for 2014.

Student Orientation
Student Mixer
Student Section business meeting
Various career oriented workshops (too many to list here,  we suggest you browse the workshops)
Mentoring opportunities (see the print program for details; the first event is at the Welcome Reception)
Student and post doc breakfast with ESA leadership
Diversity Celebration

I’m new and this meeting is huge. Help! How do I find my way around?
We suggest three things.

First, realize that everyone here was once new and didn’t know anyone else. People are generally friendly, so don’t be afraid to attend mixers in your area of interest and introduce yourself to people.

Second, attend the student orientation. It is specifically designed to help you learn your way around.

Third, attend a few student events. They’re the best place to meet other students and learn what is going on at the meeting.


Help! How do I register online?
We’ve written out the instructions here. We recommend opening them in one browser tab while you register in another.

Do I need to be a member to attend?

No, but the registration rates are lower for members. You can still become an ESA member for 2014 to qualify for member registration rates.

Can I bring a guest?
Yes. The fee to register an adult guest (18 years old or older) who will accompany an attendee at the meeting is $45 per guest. Child or youth guests may be registered at no charge. Registered guests may attend Plenary Sessions, may participate in Field Trips and/or Ticketed Event (with payment of applicable fees), and may access the Exhibit Hall. Registered guests are NOT entitled to attend scientific programs such as symposia, workshops, organized and contributed oral sessions, or evening and special sessions.

What does my registration fee include?
Your registration fee includes access to all ESA oral and posters sessions, plenaries, the exhibit hall, business meetings, and non-ticketed social events. There’s also free coffee available during breaks. The Latebreaking Poster session on Friday morning has free pastries. Food is otherwise not included.

Can I register to attend the meeting now and add optional activities to my registration later?
Yes, after you submit a registration form (online or print form), you may subsequently complete a supplemental registration form to add optional field trip, workshop, ticketed event, and/or guest registration. Please note, however, that you will not be able to add these to your registration using the online meeting registration system. The supplemental registration form is available only in print format and must be submitted to ESA by mail, by fax, or as a scanned document attached to an email and sent to

Field trips and workshops that do not reach minimum enrollment may be cancelled prior to the meeting. Since these decisions must be made by early July, we encourage you to go ahead and register for any optional activities you are interested in by the close of Early Bird registration.

What is the cancellation/refund policy?
Written notification of registration cancellation must be emailed to The registrant must submit registration cancellation notice by July 1 in order to be eligible for a refund of the registration fee paid less a $25 processing fee. No refunds will be issued if cancellation notice is given after July 1 except in extenuating circumstances (illness, family emergency).

How do I request a letter of invitation for my visa application?
You may request a letter of invitation by emailing the meeting registrar. Please include your presentation title, day, and time of presentation.


Where are hotels that are close to the convention center?
All of the hotels in our block are within a reasonable distance of the convention center. And they all include street addresses so you can look them up to confirm they’re close enough for you.

When and where can I reserve my hotel room?

Here. The Official Housing Bureau begins accepting requests for hotel accommodations in April. Reservations for 2014 will be accepted until July 7th, subject to availability.

I’m looking for a roommate. Where can I find one?
We have a room and ride share just for this.

Will the ESA Housing Bureau charge my credit card to guarantee my reservation?
The ESA Housing Bureau will not charge your credit card. However, your hotel may charge a deposit of one night’s room and tax as early as three weeks prior to the start of the ESA Annual Meeting. Deposit amounts may vary. Please refer to the deposit policy in your hotel confirmation.

Will I receive a hotel confirmation?
Yes. A detailed confirmation will be automatically emailed to you once your reservation has been made.

What is the hotel cancellation policy?
Cancellation notice must be submitted at least 72 hours prior to scheduled arrival in order to avoid penalty. If your reservation is canceled less than 72 hours prior to arrival, the guest will be charged a one night room and tax penalty by the hotel. You can cancel reservations through the ESA Housing Bureau prior to July 7th by email or phone. To cancel reservations after July 7th, please contact your hotel directly.


Which airport is closest to the meeting?
The Sacramento International Airport (SMF).

Is there an airport shuttle discount for ESA attendees?
Yes! Here’s the flyer (PDF).

I’m looking for someone to share a ride. Where can I find one?
We have a room and ride share just for this.

What to expect at the meeting

What should I wear to the conference? How formal is the dress at an ESA meeting?
A range of dress is typical. Most attendees wear comfortable casual and business casual clothing, although many dress more formally for giving their presentations. Keep in mind, the meeting is in August and is usually in cities where the outdoor summer temperatures are pretty warm. And conference centers tend to maintain colder temperatures in session rooms. As a result there’s usually a distinct contrast in temperature between session rooms and the outdoors. It would be wise to be prepared to dress in layers.

I’m looking for a job/I am hiring. Where can I read or post job ads at the meeting?
A job board will be displayed in the Exhibit Hall where attendees can post and browse announcements. Keep in mind this is separate from the general message board near registration.

Will shuttle service be offered this year?
No, the 2014 Annual Meeting will not have shuttle bus service. Please take advantage of the diversity of more sustainable transportation options that are available, including light rail, trollies, and buses.

What meals are included with registration?
Meeting registration does not include meals. It does include coffee breaks twice a day. Some optional events, such as workshops, field trips, and  ticketed events, do include food and require payment of additional fees. Light refreshments may be provided at business meetings, mixers, and other special events, but these should not be considered meals.

I have a dietary restriction. Can that be accommodated?
We offer vegetarian options at meeting events that do include food service, but please be advised that we cannot accommodate all dietary restrictions.

Bringing children to the meeting

Is child care available?
Yes. Please see our child care page for more specifics.

I’m traveling with a baby. Is there a quiet place where I can nurse in private?
Yes. Please go to the Info Desk (next to Registration) and ask the volunteers there for the details.

Media coverage, social media, and recording presentations

I’m a journalist. How do I register to attend as press?
In advance of the conference, please contact Liza Lester. After August 6, please go directly to the Press Room once you arrive at the conference. The Info Desk will be able to give you directions. You don’t need to wait in the registration line to register or pick up registration materials – we’ll handle all that in the Press Room.

Can I talk to my institution’s communications staff about my presentation before the meeting?
Yes, please! Presenters are encouraged to contact their media relations or public information officers (PIO) regarding research being presented at the meeting. Accepted talks, papers, posters, and abstracts are NOT under press embargo.

Can I take photographs in the poster hall or at oral presentations?

We ask that you generally don’t, and here’s why. You may be taking photographs of your friend’s talk with their permission, or maybe you’ve asked a friend to record video on their phone while you give your talk so that you can post it to your website later. But the people around you aren’t aware of that context. It makes presenters VERY nervous when people around them are taking photographs or recording video, because they worry about their own data being scooped for a publication or seeing it reported somewhere out of context. We receive VERY vocal complaints whenever this happens. We’ve asked presiders and moderators to help us prevent it. Please be courteous to your fellow presenters and do your part to help us maintain a welcoming environment for sharing scientific findings with colleagues.

It’s ok if you take a photo of yourself in front of your own poster. But if we see you recording a talk during a session, or capturing someone else’s data in any way, we will be quite unhappy with you and ask you to stop immediately. If you’d like a photograph of yourself giving your talk as a memento, we suggest asking a friend to take your picture while you’re setting up your slides before the session has started. You can even turn the room lights up for better results then. If you’d like to capture video your talk for posterity, you’ll need to do that somewhere else.

Are there reporters at the conference?
Yes, every year some members of the press are present and clearly identified by press badges. Please be assured that only officially contracted ESA vendors, ESA staff, and working journalists with press credentials will be permitted to photograph, video, or audio record in scientific sessions or the exhibit hall. And in all of these cases it will only be done with the explicit permission of all of the presenters involved. Any individuals seen recording without prior permission from ESA or proper credentials will be asked to cease recording immediately.

How can I follow meeting news online?
Meeting updates and deadline reminders are posted to ESA’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can track and contribute to the conversation about the meeting on Twitter using the hashtag #ESA2014. We’ll also have a meeting app this year that will push out a few important reminders, such as when a plenary is about to start and where it is.

I love Twitter/Facebook/Instagram! Can I do live updates during sessions?
Yes, please do, but with one caveat: please be courteous and don’t tweet specific details about other people’s data slides (unless they’ve said it’s ok). We realize the meeting isn’t held in a vacuum, and we like to see active social media discussion about it. But we don’t like to see presenters avoiding presenting certain findings because they’re worried about social media exposure. Use caution and your best judgment. When in doubt, save a draft and ask the speaker after their presentation if it’s ok to post certain details from it.

Questions on site

Where can I ask for help on site?

Come visit us at the Info Desk. It’s right next to Registration. We’re there to answer all your questions.