#IAmANaturalist goes GLOBAL

Our reclaim the name campaign was a huge success. Thanks in huge part to all of you Naturalists. We launched this campaign with the hopes of creating community and having some fun. But, we had no idea how much fun it would be and how much community we had. A week after the launch we had, at last count, 59 countries participating, over 2000 individuals and organizations tweeting, and thousands of wonderful quotes and pictures illustrating the diversity, value, and passion in our community. I have storify-ed the twitter campaign below.



Blog post from the ESA BLOG

Are you a naturalist? Join the grassroots effort to reclaim the name. ESA’s Natural History section is calling on you to assert your naturalist identity with pride by tweeting a photo to #IAmANaturalist on Monday, September 8, 2014.


140908 Kirsten Rowell IAmANaturalistI am a Naturalist — I use careful observations of the natural world to inform my daily life and research. My practice of natural history feeds my research program with questions, and answers.

But I don’t think I’ve ever introduced myself as a naturalist. When was the last time you heard an ecologist introduce herself as a NATURALIST? Why do we reject that identity?  Isn’t natural history the seed of many ecological questions—and in some cases the answer?

This is why we (@esanathist ) are starting a #IAmANaturalist campaign to raise awareness about the prevalence of naturalists in ecology and the importance of natural history.

Without natural history knowledge, I would be lost.  In my research I look for patterns in nature and I ask questions about what shapes those patterns.

In the absence of natural history information, our progress toward an understanding of complex ecological questions grinds to a halt. Impacts of climate change?  Depends on the natural history. Management of threatened populations?  The devil is in the details of how and where they live and die. Disease prevention?  Same story.  All of our sophisticated models are only as good as the natural history that informs them.

The field of Ecology is young, and it stands on the shoulders of natural history. Many of the icons in ecology, such as G.W. Carver, E. Leopold, E.O. Wilson, J. Goodall, J. Lubchenco, S. Earle, R. Kimmer, etc. were and are fundamentally naturalists, observing and recording the natural world in situ and in its entirety with a keen appreciation to connections and interactions.  It is the first-hand experiences in nature that give us the ”Rachel Carlson / Gene Likens” insights that unlock mysteries and help solve major environmental solutions.  It is also the naturalist instinct that is open to the abundance of complexity in ecosystems, which fuels our passion for better scholarship.

Yet most ecologists don’t teach natural history courses. Anecdotally, this seems especially true for junior faculty. Over the past decades we have seen a steady decline in the practice of natural history, perceived value of natural history, and natural history course work for biology majors (Tewksbury et al. 2014). These statistics beg the question, what will the field of ecology look like in a future without a strong emphasis on the training and retention of young naturalists?

quadra mud and clams

We cannot afford to loose the skillset of natural history in ecology.  We need to invest in and support more naturalists and more natural history institutions (museums, field stations, and botanical gardens)! The ecological issues that we will face in the future require more than ever the diverse insights of folks who can read landscapes, make careful field observations, recognize anomalies, accurately record patterns in nature, and make hypotheses that come from an education that only experience in observing nature can give you.

The Natural History Section of the Ecological Society of America invites you to join our #IamaNaturalist campaign. If you practice natural history, then reclaim the name “Naturalist” by posting a picture of yourself (i.e. in the field or with a specimen) with the hashtag #IamaNaturalist. Please give a shout out for the celebration of natural history, the oldest human endeavor and the forerunner to the field of ecology.  If you prefer facebook over twitter, you can join this campaign by posting your #IamaNaturalist picture on our facebook page.

Our hope is to start a wildfire of support for the value of natural history and the people who spend their days (or nights) practicing natural history.  We hope that this engagement starts some conversations around the importance of natural history in ecology and that it provokes a trend of closeted naturalists to proudly present their passion for natural history to the world!


“#IAmANaturalist. It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve become comfortable with using that title. More officially, I am an ecologist. Certainly these titles are not, and should not, be mutually exclusive…”

Read more: on his blog, naturalist (and ecologist) Nash Turley explains what natural history means to him, and why he strives to root more of his research in natural history observations.


Natural History’s Place in Science and Society (2014) Joshua j. Tewksbury, John G. T. Anderson, Jonathan D. Bakker, Timothy J. Billo, Peter W. Dunwiddie, Martha J. Groom, Stephanie E. Hampton, Steven G. Herman, Douglas J. Levey, Noelle J. Machnicki, Carlos Martínez del Rio, Mary E. Power, Kirsten Rowell, Anne K. Salomon, Liam Stacey, Stephen C. Trombulak and Terry A. Wheeler. BioScience,  First published online: March 26, 2014. doi: 10.1093/biosci/biu032.


Kirsten Rowell is curator of malacology at the Burke Museum of Natural History in Seattle, Wash., and a biologist at the University of Washington, currently on sabbatical in Geneva, Switzerland. She uses sclerochronology, stable isotope ratios, and elements to tell her about the lives of fish and molluscs  living thousands of years ago, comparing where they live, what they eat, and where they are in a trophic web to living animals — but it is her observational knowledge about these ecosystems that informs her interpretations of these tools.


Natural History Student Award

Jeremy listening to frogs call.

Jeremy listening to frogs call.

We are pleased to announce the recipient of our Natural History Student Award is Jeremy Feinberg, a doctoral candidate of Rutgers University. His poster “A tale of two species: recent discovery of a cryptic leopard frog species from the New York City region”, presented emergent natural history findings from careful field observations. A keen ear for frog calls alerted Jeremy to the presence of a new species of leopard frog, in a metropolitan park (see abstract below). Jeremy will receive a cash award of $300 in celebration of his practice of Natural History and how he has used this skill to further ecological knowledge. To HEAR more about some of Jeremy’s work, listen to a broadcast on NPR that aired only a couple of days ago!

We would like to give make two honorable mentions:

Mariana in her element.

Mariana in her element.

Mariana Abarca, doctoral candidate of George Washington University. She is doing some amazing natural history in support of her work on how eastern tent caterpillars (Malacosoma americanum) will respond to climate change.

Brian Cheng, doctoral candidate of UC Davis. He is working in the estuarine shores of Tomales Bay. His presentation described the cascading effects of biotic resistance and the creation of invasive predator free space. Hours of observations of intertidal creatures such as rock crabs (Cancer antennarius and C. productus) and invasive eastern oyster drills (Urosalpinx cinerea), have given insights on how the loss of native predators affect ecosystems.


A female invasive eastern oyster drill (Urosalpinx cinerea) preys upon native Olympia oysters (Ostrea lurida). Females also lay yellow urn shaped egg capsules in oyster habitat.

We had many outstanding entrants for the Natural History Student Award.

Thank you for participating and showcasing your work. And thank you to the Judges!

#ESA2014 is here!

IImportant information about this year’s meeting:

we are on Twitter – @esanathist, use hashtags #nathist and #esa2014, visit the Natural History Section booth & mixer; support our student awards applicants by attending their presentations!
**Also, check out Noam Ross’s blog on “natural history” in ESA abstracts. Super cool to think about how this has changed over the pas 100 years.

We need a few more folks to volunteer at out booth.  Please check out the  doodle poll to see when you can help out.

Below is a list of Natural History relevant activities.

Sunday Aug. 9th

Fieldtrip to Lake Tahoe  FT 7Lake Tahoe: Exploration of Challenges and Solutions to Protect One of the Gems of the Sierra Nevada

Monday Aug. 10th

10:30 – 12:30 Natural History Booth –  REED NOSS will be fielding questions about the Natural History of the Southern Grasslands!

4:30 – 6: 30 Natural History Booth – NASH TURLEY & MARIANA ABARCA will be in the house!

Stop by the booth, start bidding on books, read about our student award applicants, check out some local insects!

Tuesday Aug. 11th

10:30am  Nat Hist Student award applicant COS 18-8 Hiromi Uno

10:30 -4:40pm Natural History Booth – HALDRE RODGERS will be answering questions about impacts of loosing birds in an ecosystem and can fill your ears with Natural History of the Marianna Islands


2:30 – 4:30pm Natural History Booth – STELLA COUSINS will be in helping out and can talk to you about the Natural History of the Sierra Nevada forests.

4:30 – 6:30 Natural History Booth – REED NOSS, EVAN FRICKE, SARAH BOIS & POSY BUSBY will be refereeing the silent auction and talking Natural History’s role in conservation

*make sure to put your bids on our books – funds support next year’s student award!

Wedsnesday Aug. 11th

8:20am  Nat Hist Student award applicant COS 68-2Leif L. Richardson

12:30 – 2:30pm Natural History Booth – KIRSTEN HILL (Secretary elect) will be fielding questions about spiders

2:30 – 6:30pm Natural History Booth – EVAN FRICKE will be contemplating plant and animal interactions in a forests without birds.

4:30-6:30pm Natural History Booth – MIKE SINGER, POSY BUSBY & KIRSTEN HILL will be at the booth, talking natural history of microbes, plants and insects.

6:30 – 8:30 NATURAL HISTORY MIXER –  Baker Room at the Sheraton Hotel


Thursday Aug 13th

8:40  Nat Hist Student award applicant  COS 104-3 Isaac Lichter Marck

9:50  Nat Hist Student award applicant  COS 92-6 Mariana Abarca

10:40  Nat Hist Student award applicant  COS 105-9 Matthew A. Whalen

2:30  Nat Hist Student award applicant   pm COS 120-4 Brian S. Cheng

4:30pm – 6:30pm  – Natural History Booth – DAN EVANS & POSY BUSBY will be discussing Natural History’s roll in policy

Friday Aug. 14th

8:30am – 10:30am POSTER SESSION  Nat Hist Student award applicant  PS 84-236 Sinlan Poo

8:30am – 10:30am  POSTER SESSION Nat Hist Student award applicant  PS 62-42 Jeremy Feinberg




Julian D. Olden Traits-based approaches and the quest for generality over contingency in ecology
Terry A. Wheeler The other “E”: Entomologists and entomology in (and out) of the Ecological Society of America
Kimball L. Garrett Recent avifaunal change in riparian habitats along the Los Angeles River
NASH TURLEY Natural History Section
Shahid Naeem Condensation and ignition in ecological research: Making sense of biodiversity’s demise
Cory Merow Methods for predicting and validating range-wide population dynamics from sparse demographic data
Fiona M. Soper Coupling graduate mentorship training with undergraduate research in a field context
Emily M. Harris Participating in the California Naturalist Program: Changes in science and environmental identity
Teresa K. Heisey Sand County Almanac in the ecology classroom: An active learning approach to teaching about ecology and natural history
Leighton Reid Conservation psychology: Bat killing in southern Costa Rica
Kristen R. Treat Variation of Pentaclethra macroloba natural history and genetic structure along an elevational gradient in lowland Costa Rica
Flavia M. D. Marquitti The role of cheaters on the stability of mutualistic networks
Melissa Gaste Martinez Bothrops atrox in captivity, change isotopic composition in tissues collected from different environments of the eastern Amazon
D. Liane Cochran-Stafira Effects of Metriocnemus knabi predation on Habrotrocha rosa populations in Sarracenia purpurea pitchers
Emily Hartop Terrestrial insects of los angeles: The great frontier
Danielle B. Pitt Linking early history of Pterygota to habitat structure: The role of dendritic ecological networks in insect natural history
Carole L. Hom UC Davis-Howard University EEGAP: Collaborating to broaden participation in ecology and evolution
Senay Yitbarek The role of self-organized spatial patterns in the persistence of weak invasive species: A case study of the invasive ant W. auropunctata

Newly Elected Officers!

Election Results

Chairswe have two!

John Pastor –  website

Brad Taylor – website

Vice Chair

Christian DiVittorio – website


Kirsten Hill – website

As the former chair, I will stay on the governing board for two years to help with the transition. And Nash Turley has agreed to stay on as over achieving member and now postdoc-at-large.

Brad and John are excited to share the Chair position after a dead-even tie. This is a win-win situation because next year will be active, as we gear-up for the centennial meeting. All the new officers are excited to move the Natural History Section forward and extend the traditional boundaries. Hooray!


Natural History Booth – we will be there – come visit! Because we need someone to be present at all times, we will need some volunteers help out! Please email me if you have an hour or two that you would be willing to help.

Silent book auction – support the student awards by biding on some great books.

Natural History Section Mixer – come meet your fellow members and new officers. Get involved in the activities for next year.

Student Awards – We have eight candidates and a GREAT group of volunteer judges. I will advertise (the week before) each applicants presentation at our booth, on our website, Facebook, and twitter (the day of). SUPPORT our students, spread the word, attend their presentations and learn some Natural History.

Field trip – Sudeep Chandra (current vice chair) is organizing a field trip to LAKE TAHOE Sunday, August 10. You can register for the field trip when you register for the meeting.

FT 7Lake Tahoe: Exploration of Challenges and Solutions to Protect One of the Gems of the Sierra Nevada


Natural History’s Place in Science and Society

Exciting new paper on the importance and decline of natural history!
This paper was inspired by conversations started during the The Natural History Initiative workshops (funded by NSF and UW College on the Environment) focused on the importance of Natural History in Society, Education, Research and Management.
Make sure to check out the sections at the end that talk about ways forward!
If this inspires you, make sure to leave some comments on our facebook page  or give us a tweet @esanathist – We want to hear suggestions & ideas about how keep natural history a vibrant part of the science we do!

Reminders and Updates

Its time to start gearing up for the 99th ANNUAL ESA meetings in Sacramento California.  

Abstracts are due Thursday Feb. 27th.  Submit your abstract here.

If you are a student, or if you have a student that has a presentation that employs and showcases natural history knowledge to further their ecological studies, please let us know! We would like to showcase these talks at out booth and via twitter.  Also make sure your encourage your students to apply for the Natural History Section Student award – description of eligibility and how to apply on see our AWARDS page. There is a $300 cash award for the winning applicant and honorable mention for runner up. 

Time to start planning ahead, so below are a list of events to put on your radar:

  • Early bird registration is between April and June 19th.
  • Elections for new Natural History Section officers (Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary) in June.  I will solicit nominations at the end of April. 
  • First NATURAL HISTORY SECTION FIELD TRIP – LAKE TAHOE.  This is an all day event on Sunday, Aug 10, 2013, led by our Vice Chair, Sudeep Chandra.  More information will be available soon, so check back here. 
  • Natural History Section Mixer – Wed. 6pm at the Sheraton.  We will introduce the newly elected officers, wrap up the silent auction and discuss the new The Natural History Section Partnership Initiative, which was funded and will commence at the Centennial ESA (2015) meeting in Baltimore. 

Lastly, don’t forget to pay section dues and promote natural history within and beyond ESA!

If you haven’t already, check out our facebook page, and twitter @ESANATHIST


Advances and updates

The 2013 ESA meeting was another year of growth for the ESA Natural History section. This was our THIRD year as a section and it gets more fun and exciting as we go along. I was delighted to meet folks and hear about student’s studies, passions and commitment to Natural History. Last year I reported that our membership double, totaling 117 members. This year we have continued this trajectory ~170 members!!  We raised over $300 in silent auction funds. Well done! Thank you all for getting the word out and welcome new members. We would also like to thank the volunteers that helped to staff the booth.

Changes in officers

Nash Turley, Ph.D. candidate at Toronto University, has become our official student liaison with the ESA Student Section. Nash is a perfect person for this position. He is an avid explorer, a noticer of things, and he is talented in his ways of documenting natural history: colleting data, creating photos, and producing graphs, tweets, and songs. As the Natural History Section Student Liaison, he will be co-managing the website, the Twitter account and our up-and-coming Facebook page. Welcome Nash!

We are sad to announce that Terry Wheeler is stepping down from his post as Vice Chair. While he is stepping back from the ESA Natural History post, he will continue to do the hard work of promoting and practicing natural history. Like many Natural History Museums, Lyman Entomological Museum, is in a budget crunch.  Consequently, Terry’s duties have multiplied. He also has been elected as the president of the Natural History Network (great stuff, check it out at: http://www.naturalhistorynetwork.org). Terry has been a load of fun to work with and I would like to publicly thank him for his time and wisdom. That said, we are now in need of an interim Vice Chair who can help with the heaving lifting of getting this new section well-established.  Please submit nominations directly to me!  

Update on activities

We submitted two long range planning grants this year aimed at activities that will increase our visibility and create collaborative links within ESA as well as in other spheres (Natural History Museums and Centers).  The first is a collaborative project with other sections (Applied Ecology, Human Ecology, Agro-Ecology, Urban Ecology, and others) and it focuses on reinvigorating the sections’ presence at meetings.  The second planning grant is focused on extending our network to local and national natural history-focused institutions. We have proposed a collection of activities that will involve experts of local Natural History (meeting place specific) as well as nationally recognized natural historians for a Special Symposia at the 2015 meeting. If funded we will have more capacity for outreach and opportunities for collaboration, not to mention more opportunities to indulge in local natural history!

We are still working on the logistics of a field outing for next year’s meeting in Sacramento.  Karen Reagan has been spearheading this effort. Thanks to Mary Power and Sudeep Chandra for their ideas and willingness to share their back yard.

But wait!  There’s more!  We are developing a proposal for  Issues in Ecology on the role of Natural History in the practice of ecology. Reed Noss, Julia Parish, Josh Tewksbury and Rafe Sagarin will be leading this effort. We thank you!


Call for Proposals
Ignite ESA, Workshops, Special Sessions, Field Trips for the 99th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America
 Sacramento, California
 August 10-15, 2013. Deadline for Submission: November 21, 2013
 5:00 PM Eastern.

Warm Wishes,

Kirsten Rowell

ESA Natural History Chair

ESA 2013 meetings, Minneapolis MN, only a fortnight away!

We have a few updates on natural history activities and opportunities to help the section.  In effort to keep the membership growth trajectory (doubling every year so far), we will continue to have our NATURAL HISTORY booth. This will be the hotspot for signing up new members, and we will again have a natural history book auction.  To help make this a success, please bring any great natural history books you are willing to action, and contact Karen Regan to coordinate the donations; either by e-mail sphitz@u.washington.edu, or at the booth).  In addition, if you are coming from Seattle, let Karen know, because we have many books to auction, and we can’t possibly get them on the plan without spreading the load a bit.

We are also looking for volunteers for help staff the booth.  It’s a great place to meet other natural history enthusiasts, and a great way to bring natural history into the heart of ESA.  Sign up below – its great to have a couple people at the booth at all times, and it is the best way to recruit new members!

Sign-up through the doodle poll:  http://www.doodle.com/shw4n4vgpx3kdss8

If you don’t have time or a book to donate, you can always pop over to check out the books and bid on them – the bidding stops at the Social and Business meeting, which will be held on Wednesday night, after the poster session at the Hilton (check updated schedule).  On our agenda is the Natural History Student award, and plans for activities for the 2014 Baltimore meetings. We don’t have an organized Natural History Section outing this year, but we are excited to do this next year, and I encourage all of you to get outside and enjoy the local natural history in and around Minneapolis.  Feel free to email the membership if you want to organize an informal outing. Also the Bell Museum is opening a new exhibit that looks promising: Birds & DNA: Biodiversity and Mountain Islands.

In other news, the Natural History Student award for 2013 will not be awarded this year due to low numbers of applications. We will reserve these funds for next year and plan to offer two student awards.  Hopefully with a year’s lead-time and your help we can do a better job of getting the word out.  The award is also listed on the ESA website, so folks outside of the membership will know about it.

For those of you interested in mentorship and the role of natural history in the training of future ecologist, The Ecological Society of America is seeking volunteers from each section to participate in a new event: The Networking for Students and Early Career Professionals event. The event will take place on Sunday, August 5th, at 6:30 pm after the Opening Plenary, and is geared towards mentoring at various levels, ranging from undergraduates through post-docs.   I have attached a request letter with more information AND a document of talking points.  Those are who are interested will be formally recognized by ESA and cheered by fellow Natural History Section members!!

I would also like to remind you that we now have our ESA Natural History Section website.  I will continue to update this as we move along, but this is a section resource, so we all need to pitch in to make it successful.  If you have a contribution you would like to submit, please send your post or idea to me at rowellk@uw.edu. We are also encouraging our membership to use Twitter to help get the word out about the section (@ESANATHIST).  We will be actively tweeting about cool natural history talks using hashtags at the meeting: #ESA2013; #ESANATHIST and #Naturalhistory. We encourage others to join in using these hash tags and if you have never used twitter, this is a great excuse to give it a try.

All the Best,

Kirsten Rowell

Natural History Section Chair

Adopt “Observation and Ecology”

Post from Rafe Sagarin – an ESA Natural History Section member

I wanted to encourage you to adopt our book, “Observation and Ecology: Broadening the Scope of Science to Understand a Complex World” (2012 Island Press) for your next class in biology, ecology or environmental studies.
This compact and affordable volume ($30 or less from Amazon and other retailers in paper or e-reader) tells the story of how the life sciences are changing to cope with the rate and extent of changes to our planet with a compelling narrative and a new perspective that your students won’t find in existing texts or papers.  We have also brought in short text box contributions from a fantastic array of well-known and emerging voices in ecology, natural history, and environmental studies, including Geerat Vermeij, Stuart Pimm, Julie Lockwood, Tom Stohlgren, Gary Nabhan, and our own section Chair, Kirsten Rowell!  We think this book will generate excitement and engaged discussion among your students.

So far the comments and reviews we have received highlight that the book is easy to read, engaging, and provocative. We think those characteristics are particularly appropriate to motivate undergrad and grad students who are entering careers in ecology and other natural sciences.

To help your incorporation of this book, we have created a study guide that captures both the content of each chapter, but also promotes “Beyond the Book” project-based learning with suggested research projects and activities that can be done in small groups or in lab sessions: http://observationandecology.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/oe-study-questions.pdf

Some examples of classes that could benefit from adopting “Observation and Ecology” include:
·         Introductory Ecology: will serve as a supplementary text with a more holistic treatment of ecology than earlier supplemental texts (e.g., Gotelli’s excellent, “A Primer of Ecology” is more focused on theory and models)

·         Ecology Seminar (upper division undergrad, mixed ugrad/grad): provides numerous examples of cutting edge ecological research in relation to environmental change

·         Philosophy of Biology (undergrad): provides a primer on basic philosophical concepts (Karl Popper, “strong inference”, deduction, etc.) as they are applied to real studies

·         Introductory Environmental Science (undergrad): uses real world examples to connect ecological observation, environmental science, and policy

·         Ecological Methodology (ugrad/grad): not a methods book, but clearly contextualizes the challenges, opportunities, and outcomes of newer methodologies using real examples

·         Environmental Policy and Conservation Biology (ugrad): illustrates with cogent examples the overlap between natural history driven science and policy outcomes

·         Environmental Education (ugrad/grad): takes a non-theoretical approach to the linkage between nature experience and observation and educational outcomes at multiple developmental levels

Island Press would be happy to furnish instructors with exam copies: http://www.islandpress.org/educators.html, and Aníbal and I would be happy to work with you on integrating the book material with your course, and of course to make guest appearances in your class!
Attached you will find a flier with discount coupon for the book. More commentary on the book is at http://www.observationandecology.com.
Please don’t hesitate to write us if you have any questions,
Best wishes to all of you for a great 2013,
Rafe Sagarin rafe@email.arizona.edu
Aníbal Pauchard pauchard@udec.cl