ESA2020: Understanding Ecological Extremes: Mechanisms of Resilience and Recovery

Toni Stevens, ESA media officer

It’s hard to believe the theme for this year’s Ecological Society of Australia Conference was decided before COVID-19, and even before the summer bushfires. Indeed, it could not be more fitting for the world we currently find ourselves in.

This year has definitely thrown up its fair share of challenges, and we are in for another tough couple of months at least. But in the face of adversity it’s important that we continue to make plans and progress our work to make the future brighter.

So, we are staying optimistic here at ESA and progressing full steam ahead with our plans for the 2020 Ecological Society of Australia Conference in Wollongong in November*.

Understanding the responses of species at the limits of their distribution or when subjected to disturbances forms a core element of ecological theory. With significant changes in the frequency of disturbances associated with changes in climate, pollution and habitat modification, species and ecological communities are encountering extreme conditions more often.

Our knowledge now needs to extend to the future potential of species and systems within this new landscape. Building on current knowledge of species already living in extreme habitats, we need to understand mechanisms that underpin the recovery and resilience of species and ecosystems, including rapid evolution of characteristics, effects of small population sizes, and changes in behaviour.

This year’s ESA Conference will explore our understanding of extreme events and their impacts on species, communities and ecosystems, developing theories and methods to enhance this understanding, and investigating mechanisms that enable resilience in a more extreme future.

Symposia will cover topics as diverse as disease ecology, soil microbes, temperature extremes, citizen science, technology, cultural landscapes, wetlands, fire, conservation planning for Antarctica and more.

Our call for abstracts is now open (until 24 July) for oral presentations, speed talks and posters and we encourage you to make a submission. Early-bird registrations for the conference are also now open.

The conference will be held from 29 November to 4 December at the Novotel in Wollongong, NSW. Find out more on the conference website. ¤

*NB: Although indoor gatherings of over 100 people are currently banned, the ESA is hopeful this will change in the coming months. If at any stage, we need to cancel ESAus20 full refunds will be available to anyone who has registered to attend. We are also working on contingency options for alternative ways to run the conference, including online options, in case that is required.

The ESA’s annual conference provides a space to discuss the ecological challenges that Australia is facing, and potential solutions. Credit: Fiona Gumboots

Read more from the June 2020 edition of the ESA Bulletin.