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, 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:

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 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:

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:, 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
Please don’t hesitate to write us if you have any questions,
Best wishes to all of you for a great 2013,
Rafe Sagarin
Aníbal Pauchard

Letter from the Natural History Section Officers

Happy New Year ESA Natural History Section Members!

I am pleased to announce that we have launched our Natural History Section Website.  It is set up as a blog, so others can post relevant updates, events and advertisements.  Please check it out and give us some feedback!

We are also excited to report that last years’ book auction was a smashing success!  For this upcoming ESA 2013 Minneapolis meeting, we will do a similar auction and more!  The auction will be expanded to include natural history items that members want to donate.  And because of our members’ deep pockets and intense interest in natural history books, we are able to offer our first Natural History Student Award!  Please see more on this on the awards page of our website.

We are hoping the ESA 2013 annual meeting will be a repeat of growth and excitement for our section.  We will have a Natural History Section booth again.  This took some volunteer time by members (thank you), but it was a valuable recruitment tool and well worth the effort.  This year at the booth we will display auction items, news, events and opportunities that are relevant to Natural History, as well as a brief biography and overview of the research of the Natural History Student awardee. Make sure to find us if you have news or opportunities you would like to post them.  And please consider volunteering for an hour or two at the booth.

Of course there will be an annual Natural History Section mixer (date and location to be announced), so stay tuned!

Check back with us and feel free to contact us if you would like to post something.

All the Best,

Kirsten Rowell, Chair

Terry Wheeler, Co-Chair

Karen Reagan, Secretary