(202) 833-877 esahq@esa.org

Call for Abstracts: Contributed Lightning Talks

101st ESA Annual Meeting
Fort Lauderdale, Florida August 7 – 12, 2016

Deadline: Thursday, February 25, 2016
at 5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific)

Abstracts that are incomplete or received 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. All abstracts must be submitted through the online form in order to be considered. We will not accept abstracts received by email. When you submit your abstract, 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 jennifer@esa.org to confirm that your abstract was received. You will be able to return to the abstract to edit it until the submission deadline has passed. Information on how to do so will be included in the automated email.

Link To Submission Page

For more information, including abstract guidelines, click to expand the sections below.

About Contributed Lightning Abstracts

We invite submission of abstracts for contributed lightning presentations for the 101st ESA Annual Meeting. Abstracts are encouraged to address the meeting theme “Novel Ecosystems in the Anthropocene” if appropriate, but doing so is not necessary. We welcome submissions that report interdisciplinary work, address communication with broad audiences, or explore ways of teaching ecology at any level. Contributed lightning presentations are scheduled for 5 minute timeslots. Individually submitted abstracts will be grouped together to form thematic sets of 4. The resulting themes for each set will most likely be fairly broad. Every set of 4 talks will be followed by a 10 minute discussion period. A lightning session will contain up to 3 sets of talks (12 talks total) and will run concurrently with other oral session types during the day. Each lightning talk may be scheduled Monday afternoon through Friday morning. By submitting an abstract, the presenting author is indicating that they will be available during any of the possible time slots.

Example Lightning Session (aquatic ecology abstracts)

8:00 AM          Talk 1
8:05 AM          Talk 2
8:10 AM          Talk 3
8:15 AM          Talk 4
8:20 AM          Discussion (Talks 1-4)

8:30 AM          Talk 5
8:35 AM          Talk 6
8:40 AM          Talk 7
8:45 AM          Talk 8
8:50 AM          Discussion (Talks 5-8)

9:00 AM          Talk 9
9:05 AM          Talk 10
9:10 AM          Talk 11
9:15 AM          Talk 12
9:20 AM          Discussion (Talks 9-12)

Before You Begin

Please read and follow the abstract guidelines carefully. They are provided here as a guide to help you plan in advance. You can start your submission, save your progress, and then return to complete it at any time before the deadline has passed. A login and password will be automatically emailed to you when you begin an abstract submission. You may log in to view your abstract at any time HERE. If this is your first time submitting an abstract for an ESA meeting, we suggest reading some contributed abstracts from a previous meeting. Abstracts from 2015 are available online. If you are a student, we strongly encourage you to work closely with your faculty adviser as you develop your abstract. If you encounter problems during abstract submission, email Jennifer Riem and include the abstract ID number.

Abstract Guidelines

  • The abstract must primarily report on new work within the field of ecology. Reviews of previous work are not permissible for contributed presentations.
  • The body of the abstract is up to 400 words, split between the two sections (up to 200 words each): 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.
  • The abstract must report specific results. The results may be preliminary but they may not be vague. Abstracts without explicitly stated results will be rejected. It is understandable that abstracts describing non-traditional work may lack quantitative data; however, it is still expected that the abstract will address some question and have a “take-home message” describing specific findings.
  • Abstracts must be clear. Poorly written abstracts will be rejected.
  • Abstracts must be written in English and must follow standard grammar and punctuation rules. Abstracts that do not meet this guideline will be rejected.
  • For every author listed, their name, institution, and email are required information.
  • Missing coauthors are a very common issue. Be sure to check to make sure everyone has been included.
  • Any author can be designated as the presenting author. The presenting author’s name will appear in bold text. The presenting author is also the corresponding author. In order to receive notifications from us, it is important to make sure the correct person is indicated and that their email is entered correctly

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.

Session Assignment

  • During abstract submission, you will rank 3 themes to guide the grouping of your presentation into a session with similar presentations. We will use these themes as a general guide for sorting abstracts into sessions. Please keep in mind that especially for this first year, the resulting sessions will likely be much broader in their themes than the traditional oral sessions.
  • Consider the themes carefully. We encourage you to browse sessions from recent conferences (2015, 20142013,) 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 think.
  • Each contributed talk may be scheduled Monday afternoon through Friday morning. By submitting an abstract, you are indicating you will be available during any of the possible time slots. Special scheduling requests cannot be honored.

Editing Abstracts

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 outside the May editing window.

Meeting Registration

The presenting author of every accepted abstract will also need to register and will be reminded to do so in meeting correspondence. Registration is a separate process that will open in April.

One Presentation Rule

Lightning talk presentations, like all formal presentations, are limited to one per speaker.

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.
    • Coauthors are not included in this rule. A person may serve as a coauthor on any number of abstracts.

Exceptions to the rule: An author may submit an abstract for a second presentation if one of the abstracts:

    • primarily reports on ecology education or outreach.
    • primarily reports on  the history of ecology as a discipline (through 2016).

Other things you can still do that are not affected by the rule:

    • Serve as a session organizer and/or moderator for any session type.
    • Preside over a contributed session.
    • Speak in a workshop, Ignite session, or special session.

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

Cancellations and No Shows

The presenting author should notify ESA as soon as possible if a presentation needs to be cancelled, even if it’s on a date close to or during the Annual Meeting. To cancel, reply to any of the notification emails received about the presentation. If you are employed by a federal agency and are facing a challenging process to acquire travel approval, rest assured that ESA will be lenient regarding penalties in such cases. In return we ask that you help us adapt by keeping us informed. The sooner we know of each cancellation, the less disruptive it will be. If by mid-April when acceptance notices are sent you are still unsure about whether your travel will be approved, please let us know.


The deadline for cancellation without risk of penalty is May 1. Before submitting an abstract, presenters should be reasonably confident that they will attend the meeting and make the presentation as scheduled. Presenters in uncertain funding situations should cancel by May 1 or be prepared to pay the late cancellation fee. Cancellations after May 1 (late cancellations) and failures to give scheduled presentations without any notice (no shows) are disruptive and leave gaps in the program that are a source of frustration for attendees. Therefore, ESA enforces penalties for avoidable situations that result in gaps in the meeting program. These penalties apply only to the presenting author, not to any coauthors, and for all presentation types (invited and contributed, posters and talks). The late cancellation fee is $50 USD. 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.

Extenuating circumstances

We realize that sometimes sudden and unforeseen events outside of a presenter’s control prevent them from presenting as scheduled. For example, medical issues, family emergencies, unforeseen travel problems, difficulty acquiring a visa for travel to the US, and similar unforeseen situations outside of a presenter’s control.  The late cancellation and no show penalties will not be applied to presenters with unavoidable reasons for not attending the conference. Late cancellations due to a presenter’s inability to secure funding to attend, starting a new job, or other scheduling conflicts are considered avoidable and the penalties will apply.

Replacement speakers

A replacement speaker is encouraged if a speaker’s plans change after May 1. The substitute speaker does not necessarily need to be a coauthor. You do not need to notify ESA about replacement speakers since we cannot update the program.

Presentation Guidelines

Guidelines for contributed lightning presentations:

  • Presentations are scheduled for 5 minute timeslots. Time limits will be strictly enforced by the session presider. Please respect the audience’s time and the presenter who is following you.
  • There will be no time for individual Q&A immediately between talks. Instead, there will be 10 minutes for shared discussion time after each group of 4 talks. We are hoping this time will allow more of a dialogue between presenters and the audience. These Q&As will be managed by a session presider who has been asked to manage the session differently from traditional sessions.
  • All presenters are expected to arrive at their session room 20 minutes in advance of their session. This time is for checking in with the session presider and transferring your presentation to the laptop in the room. A student A/V volunteer will be available to assist you.
  • Please stay for the entire session if at all possible. It is disruptive to have speakers leaving right after each set of 5 minute talks.

Technical information

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 the presentation.

  • 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 recommended formats for slides. These file types will work most smoothly on the laptops we provide.
  • All speakers are welcome 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. We especially recommend testing your slides if you are using a format other than PowerPoint or Adobe.
  • We advise against relying on an internet connection for any critical aspects of a presentation. Although our laptops are wireless enabled, the availability of a wireless connection varies between meeting sites. In years when it is present, the reliability may vary between rooms and over time. If your presentation will feature internet content, be sure to have backup versions ready (screenshots, for example).
  • You may not use your own laptop for your presentation for this format. The transition times between talks must be very short, which necessitates using the laptop provided in the room.
  • Laser pointers will be provided for each session.
  • Slides will be advanced manually using the laptop at the podium. Remote slide advancers (clickers) will not be provided. Speakers who wish to use them are welcome to bring their own.
Important Dates
February 25, 2015 Abstract submission deadline.
April 14, 2015 Notification of acceptance sent to presenting author.
May 1, 2015* Deadline to cancel without penalty. This is also the deadline for editing abstracts.
May 19, 2015 Notification of scheduling (session date and time) sent to presenting author.

* Since May 1 falls on a Sunday in 2016, we will consider cancellations received through Monday, May 2 to be timely.


Dr. Lee Frelich
Program Chair
Dept. of Forest Resources
The University of Minnesota
St. Paul, MN 55108
Phone: (612) 624-3671
E-mail: freli001@umn.edu

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