Call for Contributed Oral and Poster Abstracts

Sunlight through fall leaves in downtown Sacramento. CA.

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

Deadline: 5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific)
Thursday, February 27, 2014

Any abstracts sent by email or after the deadline will NOT be considered.

All ESA Annual Meeting proposal and abstract deadlines are 5:00 PM Eastern so that technical support and ESA staff assistance will be immediately available when submitters need it. If you begin your submission very close to the deadline, you are choosing to take a risk and we will NOT make an exception if you don’t complete your submission in time. The form automatically closes at 5:00 EST (2:00 PST) whether you have completed your submission or not.

About Contributed Abstracts

We invite submission of abstracts for contributed oral and poster presentations at the 2014 ESA Annual Meeting. The meeting will be held August 10-15, 2014, in Sacramento, California, at the Sacramento Convention Center. Abstracts that address the meeting theme, “From Oceans to Mountains: It’s All Ecology,” are especially encouraged, but submissions may address any aspect of ecology and its applications. We also welcome submissions that report interdisciplinary work, that address communication with broad audiences, or that explore ways of teaching ecology at any level. Please follow the guidelines when preparing and submitting your abstract.

Contributed oral and poster sessions are collections of submitted abstracts each organized around a common concept or process, tool or application, subdiscipline, study taxon, or ecosystem. Contributed abstract authors rank their preferred session topics as part of the abstract submission process, and the Program Committee then uses these rankings to organize each year’s accepted abstracts into sessions.

Posters and talks are equally important and have the same abstract content, but the presentations differ in format and scheduling. Whether an abstract is intended for a talk or a poster is indicated by the author at the time of abstract submission. Each abstract will be accepted or rejected for the format the author has requested. ESA does not change the presentation format during abstract review.

Please note that invited speakers for Symposia, Organized Oral Sessions, Organized Poster Sessions, and Ignite ESA Sessions should not submit their abstracts to this call. Speakers confirmed to present in these organized sessions should submit by following special instructions and using a unique submission link that will be emailed to them by late January.

One Presentation Rule

What the rule means

  • Each person is allowed to submit only one abstract where they are listed as presenting author. This rule is enforced in order to encourage broad participation.
  • Sessions and roles which are included in this rule: anyone listed as the presenting author for a presentation in a contributed oral, contributed poster, symposium, organized oral, or organized poster session.
  • Coauthors are not included in this rule. A person may serve as a non-presenting author on any number of abstracts.
  • You can edit the presenting author status as you enter your author list. The first author is initially listed as the presenting author by default. You will be able to edit this as you enter the full author list. The presenting author will appear in bold text.
  • The presenting author is the point of contact. He or she will receive all abstract notifications from ESA. Be sure to check to make sure the correct person is indicated as the presenting author and that their email is entered correctly!

Other things you can do which are not affected by the rule

  • Be listed as a coauthor. The rule is only about the presenting author.
  • Serve as a session organizer and/or moderator for any session type.
  • Preside over a contributed session.
  • Present in a workshop or special session.
  • Present in an Ignite ESA session.

Exceptions to the rule

An author may submit an abstract for a second presentation only if one of the abstracts is directly related to a) ecology education or scientific outreach or b) the history of ecology as a discipline or ESA. Presentations that focus on the history of the discipline or ESA are exempted in recognition of ESA’s Centennial in 2015. Please note that historical ecology does not fall under this exemption.

Please contact Program Coordinator Jennifer Riem if you have questions about whether an abstract fits these criteria.

Abstract Guidelines

Before You Begin

Please read and follow the abstract guidelines carefully. They are provided here as a guide to help you plan in advance.

5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific) on Thursday, February 27th is the firm submission deadline. Please note that the abstract form will close at this time, even if you have only partially entered your abstract! We will not accept ANY submissions that are incomplete or not yet submitted as of 5:00 PM Eastern.

There are two different forms on the submission page – one for posters and one for talks. Make sure you submit to the format you intend to present. Whichever one you submit will be what you are presenting if your abstract is accepted! 

It is best practice to prepare your abstract in advance using a word processing program with spell check and then copy the text into our submission form. Note that you may return to your abstract at any time between now and the deadline to continue entering it or revise previously submitted information. This means that you can start your submission now, look over the form, and return to complete it later. Just be sure to enter your email correctly so that you receive an email from us telling you how to log back in later.

Accuracy of the abstract is the responsibility of the author(s). Abstracts will be REJECTED if they do not comply precisely with the guidelines on content and format listed here.

If this is your first time submitting an abstract for an ESA meeting, we strongly suggest reading some contributed abstracts from a previous meeting, all of which are available online (2013, 2012, 2011). If you are a student, we strongly encourage you to work closely with your faculty advisor as you develop your abstract.

Example of an abstract from the 2013 meeting program

If you encounter problems during abstract submission, contact Jennifer Riem, preferably by email, and include the abstract ID number.

Guidelines For Abstract Content

  • The abstract must primarily report on new work within the field of ecology. Abstracts must be based primarily on new, unpublished material. Reviews of past work are generally not permissible for contributed presentations. Symposia and special sessions are more appropriate venues for presentations which primarily review and synthesize previous work.
  • The abstract will have two sections: Background/Question/Methods, in which the objective of the study is clearly identified and the methods are described; and Results/Conclusions, in which specific results of the study are explicitly reported and their implications for ecology are briefly discussed.
  • Results are required. Abstracts may be submitted before all analyses and conclusions are in their final form, but authors MUST report some specific preliminary results. The results may be preliminary but they may not be vague. Abstracts without explicitly stated results will be REJECTED. Results may not be projected in future tense (Ex: “results will be reported”).
  • Authors who cannot yet report any specific results but expect to be able to do so by May should submit to the Latebreaking Poster call (May 8 deadline). Abstracts primarily based on work for which data cannot yet be reported will be REJECTED if they are submitted for this call.
  • If your field season is this spring and you cannot report preliminary results in time for this or the Latebreaking Poster deadline in May, then unfortunately next year’s conference is when you should plan to present your work.
  • If you are presenting non-traditional work, it is understandable that the abstract may lack quantitative data; however, it is still expected that your abstract will address some question and have a “take-home message” describing specific findings.
  • Clarity of language is important. Abstracts must use standard English and follow English syntax, grammar, and punctuation rules. Poorly written abstracts will be REJECTED. Non-native English speakers who are presenting in the U.S. for the first time are encouraged to ask a fluent speaker who is familiar with ecology for help refining the language in their abstract. If you are not acquainted with a native speaker who can help you, ESA can help put you in touch with one.
  • Keep in mind that although your colleagues at this conference are familiar with ecology they are not necessarily familiar with your specific area of study. The clearer your abstract, the more likely you are to draw attendees to your presentation.
If you are unsure if your presentation meets our guidelines, please ask us. We would rather talk to you about it in advance than send you a rejection notice in April.

Guidelines For Abstract Formatting

  • The body of the abstract is limited to a maximum of 400 words, split between two sections. The sections are each limited to 200 words and the words in the headers are not counted toward those totals.
  • If the form says you are missing the section headings, check your spelling. A simple typo (Question instead of Questions) will cause this to occur.
  • The title is limited to 255 characters (about 15 words). Mostly you should enter it as you would a sentence: capitalize only the first word and proper nouns, italicize only as necessary for specific words. You should capitalize the first word following a colon. Do not end your title with punctuation unless it is a question. Do not bold or italicize anything in the title.
  • For each author, enter the full first name, any middle initials, and the full last name. Do not add punctuation after any of the names.
  • Our author profile has one field for each author’s department and one for affiliation – check that you are not accidentally switching these fields. Only the author’s affiliation will appear in the official conference program, and this should be the name of the institution. There is no field for job title.
  • Missing coauthors are a common issue. Please check at the time of submission to make sure everyone who should be listed has been listed. Students, have you included your advisor?
  • Special characters, symbols, and font styles are available from menu of options on the abstract submission form. You may italicize scientific names and use superscripts and subscripts for chemical names.

Indicating Preferences for Contributed Session Assignment

  • Contributed oral and poster presentations will be grouped with similar presentations to form thematic sessions. The themes you rank at the time of abstract submission are used to create these groupings. 
  • We have listed likely session themes, based on submissions and sessions from prior meetings, in pull-down lists organized under five categories: 1) ecological concepts and processes; 2) ecosystem or habitat; 3) ecological applications, tools, and techniques; 4) subdiscipline; and 5) taxonomic or functional group. 
  • You will rank 3 themes (1 indicating most preferred) to guide our grouping of papers into sessions. Each of your preferred themes may be selected from any of the 5 categories. 
  • You should consider the themes carefully. For most abstracts, session themes are the ONLY information we use to create sessions, so please consider the options carefully. We strongly encourage you to peruse sessions from recent conferences (2013, 2012, 2011) to see which session themes you would feel most at home in. Your colleagues who do similar work may not be ranking the topics you would assume.
  • The frequency with which themes are ranked determines which themes ultimately become sessions each year.

Indicating Preferences for Organized Oral Session Assignment (OPTIONAL)

  • Contributed abstract authors have the option of indicating interest in an Organized Oral Session. Each session’s organizer will be sent a list of all accepted abstracts that indicated interest in their session, and they will select two abstracts to add to their session. No abstracts will be moved to an OOS unless they have specifically indicated interest in it. The vast majority are sorted into contributed sessions each year. You can browse the 2014 Organized Oral Sessions here.

If Your Abstract Is Accepted

Meeting Registration

Submitting an abstract does not register you for the conference. Registration is a separate process that will open in April. All presenters of accepted abstracts will need to register. We will remind accepted presenters to register in meeting correspondence.

Abstract Notifications

  • If you enter an incorrect email address, notifications from ESA will not reach you! Be sure to carefully check your email address for any typos when submitting your abstract.
  • If you have entered your email correctly you will receive the first of two automated emails after completing and submitting the first page of abstract information. You will also be automatically notified when you have completed the last step of abstract submission.
  • Your abstract will be assigned an Abstract ID Number. Please do not delete the email containing this ID number as it is the quickest and most accurate way for us to look up your abstract when you contact us with a question.
  • You will be notified of acceptance or rejection of your abstract via email by April 17, 2014.
  • You will be notified of the day and session of your presentation via email by May 22, 2014.
  • A full preliminary program including presentation times will be available by early June. A partial program will be posted as each program is ready before June. Note that the contributed abstracts, a very large part of the program, are the last sections to be posted.

Editing Your Abstract

  • You may view your abstract at any time by going to: and entering the Abstract ID Number and password that were emailed to you at the time of submission.
  • No edits can be made during abstract review. Abstract editing will be available for a short window (2-3 weeks) in April and early May. All presenting authors will receive instructions and a specific deadline by email. Edits are not possible before or after the May editing window.
  • Missing coauthors are the most common reason for editing. Please check at the time of submission to make sure everyone who should be listed has been listed. Students, have you included your advisor?


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.

Presentation Guidelines

Guidelines for Poster Presentations

  • Contributed posters are intended to be equally prestigious as contributed talks. Poster presentations allow presenters to reach a larger audience than a contributed talk in many cases. The two hour time slot, absence of concurrent sessions, and busy exhibit hall traffic during poster sessions provide both time and opportunity for extended Q&A with interested attendees.
  • Posters are displayed for a full day. Authors should hang their posters in the morning on the day of their presentation. This allows interested attendees to view the poster even when the author is not in attendance. The exhibit hall opens mid-morning each day. If you are presenting on a given day, visiting the hall earlier in the day is a great opportunity to view other posters in your session, as well as those that you might otherwise miss while you are presenting your own during the session.
  • Poster sessions are 4:30-6:30 pm Monday through Thursday. By submitting an abstract, it is expected that the presenting author will be available during ANY of these time slots. Special scheduling requests CANNOT be honored and talks CANNOT be moved once scheduling is complete.
  • DO NOT submit a poster you do not intend to be present for during the session. Presenting authors are REQUIRED to be present for the scheduled 2-hour session (4:30-6:30 PM).
  • There is no poster size requirement except that the poster fits on the provided board. Poster boards are landscape format with dimensions 8 ft wide x 4 feet tall (2.4 m wide x 1.2 m tall). To ensure the poster will fit, presenters should design posters to be at least 2 inches (5 cm) smaller on each margin. In practice most posters we see at the conference fall into the 3-4 ft tall x 4-5 ft wide range. These sizes allow the presenter room to stand next to the poster without blocking its line of sight.
  • There is no requirement for the organization and formatting of the poster’s content. There are many helpful online guides that can provide you with some general pointers. If you are a student making a research poster for the first time, we suggest asking your advisor for a poster from a past conference to use as an example. You can also look at posters from past ESA conferences here (keep in mind this is simply an archive of past posters, not recommended formats.)
  • Pushpins will be supplied on site. These are the only method allowed for attaching the poster to the board.
  • Poster presenters may not use audio-visual equipment. Unfortunately we cannot accommodate the space and logistical requirements for such equipment.
  • Poster presenters are welcome to bring handouts. Many poster presenters bring a few 8.5×11 copies of their posters to provide as handouts. These will fit into an envelope that can be attached to the poster board using pushpins.
  • We rely on topics ranked by the abstract author to organize posters into sessions. Abstracts will be placed in sessions based on topics (themes) ranked by the submitting author at the time of abstract submission. Only in rare cases is abstract content factored into session groupings. Do not rank topics as a rushed decision right at the deadline! We strongly recommend browsing recent conferences in advance and considering which topics seem like a good fit for your presentation both in terms of concept and which abstracts you think are most similar to your own.
  • Conversation is encouraged. These sessions provide an opportunity for extended discussion and networking in a relaxed setting after completion of the day’s oral sessions. A cash bar will be available.

Guidelines for Oral Presentations (Talks)

  • Contributed oral presentations are scheduled for 20 minute timeslots. 15 minutes are allotted for each presentation plus 5 minutes for questions. Time limits will be strictly enforced by the session presider, who will warn each speaker when they are approaching their time limit.
  • The 5 minute period between talks belongs to the audience, not to the speaker. The 5-minute period allows for questions, discussion, and introduction of the next speaker. Q&A will be managed by the session presider.
  • We rely on topics ranked by the abstract author to organize talks into sessions. Abstracts will be placed in sessions based on topics (themes) ranked by the submitting author at the time of abstract submission. Only in rare cases is abstract content factored into session groupings. Do not rank topics as a rushed decision right at the deadline! We strongly recommend browsing recent conferences in advance and considering which topics seem like a good fit for your presentation both in terms of concept and which abstracts you think are most similar to your own.
  • Each contributed talk may be scheduled Monday afternoon through Friday morning. By submitting an abstract, it is expected that the presenting author will be available during ANY of these time slots. Special scheduling requests CANNOT be honored and talks CANNOT be moved once scheduling is complete.
  • Contributed talks may be placed in Organized Oral Sessions (OOS). Presenting authors can indicate a preference for a particular OOS at the time of abstract submission. A list of  OOS titles will be available as a drop-down list within the abstract form by late January. If you submit before then you may log back in before the deadline to indicate your preference. Each session organizer will select contributed talks to add to their OOS in May, depending on how strongly they support the theme of that session.

Important Information About Formatting Oral Presentations (Talks)

This section describes recommended presentation formats and practices for oral presentations. We realize that losing speaking time due to technical glitches or other problems is a frustrating and stressful experience. This information is provided to presenters in advance in order to help minimize problems on the day of your presentation.

  • For all formats, we advise presenters to test their slides in advance in a Speaker Ready Room. You may sign up for a time to test your presentation at the Information Desk. These rooms are for checking your slides’ compatibility on our laptops, not for practicing presentations.
  • All presenters are expected to arrive at their session room 20 minutes in advance of the start of their session. This time is for checking in with the session presider and allows the projectionist to transfer your presentation to the dedicated laptop. Please bring a copy of your presentation on a USB Flash drive.
  • Each meeting room will be equipped with a dedicated LCD projector and PC laptop. The laptop will be running Windows 7 with MS Office 2010 Suite.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat are the preferred formats for slides. These file types will work most smoothly on the laptops we provide. Plug-ins have been loaded so that anything created in earlier versions of Office should still open without any issues.
  • Please do not use Presenter View in PowerPoint. This often causes problems for the next presenter when multiple slideshows are open at the same time on the same computer. Troubleshooting the settings and restoring them to the defaults often eats into presentation time.
  • Presenters may use a different digital slide format as long as it is compatible with our laptops. The preferred formats are less likely to cause any problems on the day of your presentation, but you may use a different format if you wish to do so; however, it is the speaker’s responsibility to make sure that their presentation will run smoothly. You should save your files in a format compatible with MS Office 2010 for Windows 7. The laptops also have Adobe Flash installed. We strongly advise you to check your presentation in a Speaker Ready Room in advance if you are using one of these other formats.
  • Prezi and other cloud-based formats can be used. Be sure to check that our laptops meet their technical requirements and that you will be able to export a portable file in advance. Although our laptops are wireless enabled, the availability of a wireless connection varies between meeting sites and even in years when it is present, its reliability will vary from room to room. We strongly advise against relying on an internet connection for a presentation since you may not be able to reliably connect to a cloud-based service from the session room. Instructions for downloading a portable Prezi file can be found here.
  • There are some formats which often do not work on our laptops! Corel presentations, embedded videos, animations, and Mac file formats can cause problems. If you plan to use these, you may need to use your own computer.
  • You may use your own laptop for your presentation if necessary. We recommend testing your presentation on our laptops first since disconnecting and reconnecting speakers’ computers can disrupt sessions. If you do need to use your own PC or Mac laptop, you will need to connect it to the LCD projector. We ask that you be considerate of the presenter following you and make sure your technical setup does not take away from any of their presentation time. Please arrive at your session early to make sure that you and/or the A/V volunteer can disconnect and reconnect the dedicated laptop without any problems.
  • Mac users will need to bring their own VGA dongle. ESA does not provide these adapters.
  • Laser pointers will be provided for each session. These will be picked up in advance by the session presiders.
  • As of 2013, slides will be advanced manually using the laptop at the podium. No remote slide advancers (clickers) will be provided. Speakers who wish to use one are welcome to bring their own.

Important Dates

February 27, 2014 (5:00 PM EST / 2:00 PM PST)Deadline for submitting an abstract to ESA.
April 17, 2014Notification of acceptance sent to presenting author. Window of abstract editing begins.
May 1, 2014Deadline to cancel an abstract without risk of penalty.
May 8, 2014Deadline for authors to submit edits.
May 22, 2014Notification of scheduling (session date and time) sent to presenting author.

To Submit

Click the button below to being submission. The page that it leads to will have a link to a poster submission form and a link to a talk submission form. Be sure the choose the format you prefer since this is what you will be expected to present if your abstract is selected.

If you are an invited speaker – meaning you have been asked by an organizer to present in a Symposium, Ignite ESA Session, Organized Oral Session, or Organized Poster Session, do not submit here! You will receive specific instructions by email in late January and should follow those instead. Contact Jennifer Riem if you have not received this email.

Link To Submission Form


For further information consult the ESA meeting web site or contact the Program Chair, Hal Balbach, or Program Coordinator, Jennifer Riem:

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
Fax: (202) 833-8775