Call for Organized Oral Sessions

Tower Bridge at night.

99th ESA Annual Meeting
Sacramento, California
August 10 – 15, 2014

Deadline: 5:00 PM Eastern
Thursday, September 26, 2013

About Organized Oral Sessions

We invite proposals for organized oral sessions for the 99th ESA Annual Meeting. The meeting will be held August 10 – 15, 2014 in Sacramento, California at the Sacramento Convention Center.

Organized oral sessions are organized around a specific topic with most of the speakers invited by the organizer at the proposal stage and at least 2 selected by the organizer from the contributed abstract pool. 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) 10 talks are set at 15 minutes each, with 5 minutes following for discussion (as in contributed oral sessions); 3) 8 time slots are invited by the session organizer at the proposal stage; and 4) 2 time slots out of the 10 available in an organized oral session are reserved for placing related talks from the accepted contributed abstracts (to be selected by the session organizer after review is completed in the spring).

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, “From Oceans to Mountains: It’s All Ecology” 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.

Proposals must be received through the online submission form by 5:00 PM Eastern Time on Thursday, September 26, 2013. Any proposals sent by email or after the deadline will not be considered.

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 12, 2013.

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: There should be 8 invited speakers at the proposal stage. These 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. 

All speakers will be required to submit an abstract by the February 27, 2014, 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.

Endorsements: There are no endorsements of organized oral sessions.

Session and 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.

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 27 deadline. Speakers who fail to submit an abstract on time will be removed from the session.

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, abstract requirements and deadlines, session scheduling information, and expectations for participation in the conference. It is ultimately the organizer’s responsibility to make sure all of the abstracts for the session are received by the abstract deadline.

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


The deadline for cancellation without risk of penalty is May 1. Instructions for how to cancel are included in all notification emails sent to presenters. You should reply to any of those emails to cancel. For cancellations after May 1, please read the following section.

Late Cancellations And No Shows

Late cancellations and failures to give scheduled presentations (no shows) are disruptive and leave gaps in the program that are a source of frustration for attendees. Therefore, ESA has adopted the following policies for avoidable situations which result in gaps in the meeting program. These penalties are not applied to presenters with understandable and unavoidable reasons for not attending the conference (medical issues, family emergencies, unforeseen travel problems, and similar situations outside of a presenter’s control). Late cancellations due to a presenter’s inability to secure funding to attend are considered avoidable. The purpose of the penalties is to deter avoidable cancellations by encouraging presenters with a great deal of uncertainty regarding their attendance to cancel before scheduling begins in May. Presenters in uncertain funding situations should cancel by May 1 or be prepared to pay the penalty.

Late Cancellations

  • What is a late cancellation? A cancellation occurring after May 1, with an exemption for medical and family situations as well as difficulty acquiring a visa to travel to the US.
  • The late cancellation fee is $50 USD regardless of presentation type (posters and talks). It applies only to the presenting author, not to any coauthors.
  • Please do not submit an abstract “just in case.” Before submitting an abstract, authors should be reasonably confident that they will attend the meeting and make the presentation as scheduled. If there is uncertainty then please confirm your plans or cancel before May 1.
  • A replacement speaker is allowed if your plans change close to the conference dates. 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 because we cannot update the program. However, please notify session organizers if applicable.
  • If cancellation is unavoidable, the author should notify ESA 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.
  • ESA is willing to consider waiving the penalty for a presenter who has a compelling reason to cancel late. 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 when you contact us.

No Shows

  • What is a no show? A no show is when a presentation was not made as scheduled and the presenter did not notify ESA of their inability to present.
  • We realize that sometimes events outside of a presenter’s control prevent them from presenting as scheduled. For example, a flight cancellation or an unforeseen medical condition or family emergency. And sometimes these problems cannot be communicated to ESA staff until after the scheduled presentation time has passed. We will be lenient for such situations if we receive some sort of explanation from the presenter, even if the message is sent after the presentation would have occurred.
  • A presenter in such a situation should reply to any of the notification emails sent to presenters. Messages and notes passed in person on the meeting site are highly unreliable! Email is by far the best method for letting us know what has happened. We may not be able to respond during the conference but we will save all such messages for processing after the conference.
  • For other cases, where there is not a compelling reason and no notice was received, the no show penalty will be enforced.
  • The no show penalty is a one year presentation ban, regardless of presentation type (posters and talks). Any abstract with the penalized author listed as the presenting author will not be accepted for the following year’s conference. This penalty applies only to the presenting author, not to any coauthors. The presenting author can still organize a session, be listed as a coauthor, and attend the conference. The ban is for presenting a formal talk or poster only.

September 26, 2013Deadline for submitting a proposal to ESA.
December 12, 2013Notification of acceptance sent to organizer.
January 14, 2014Deadline to submit session revisions and confirmed speaker lists.
February 13, 2014Notification of scheduling (session date and time) sent to organizer.
February 27, 2014Deadline for speakers to submit abstracts.

To Submit

Proposal Format

All proposals MUST follow the format of the online submission form on the ESA meeting website. Incomplete or inaccurate information may result in the proposal not being considered.

Note that the following information must be entered into the online submission form. 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. No more or less than 8 speakers should be listed. 
  • 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.

Link To Submission Form>


Dr. Hal Balbach
US Army Corps of Engineers
PO Box 9005 Champaign, IL 61826-9005
Phone: 217-373-6785

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