Photo: Richard Wylie

Welcome to the Arid Ecology Research Chapter of ESA. We hope that you will be interested enough in what we have to offer to become a part of the group and participate in our activities.

2014 is a very exciting time for us. The ESA conference will be held in Alice Springs, central Australia, in September-October this year.

This gives us the opoprtunity to meet for the first time in arid Australia and for us to experience and discuss arid ecology both at the conference and in the field.

Who we are

The arid ecology chapter of ESA consists of a group of people who are interested in and do (or have done) research in the deserts. Most of us have a fascination with desert ecology.

The broad aim of the group is to bring together like-minded people and to act as a network and focus for arid zone ecologists. The general feeling is that, although much ecological research is being undertaken in Australia’s deserts, many of us are working in isolation. So the intention is to change that and for the group to act as a way of exchanging ideas and experiences. We are still working out how to do this and the meeting in Alice Springs this year provides an opportunity to explore possibilities.

What we will do

The arid ecology chapter aims to:

  • hold regular themed talk/poster sessions at ESA conferences;
  • hold an informal meeting/mixer at each ESA conference;
  • run occasional one day events independent of the conference;
  • keep in contact via email and other forms of media.

A brief history

Although 2013 was a quiet year for the chapter, we have been an active and involved group.

The Arid Ecology Research Chapter was established at the 50th anniversary conference of the Society at ANU, Canberra, in December 2010; one of the first research chapters of ESA.

We organised a symposium at ESA 2011 in Hobart titled “Greening of Arid Australia – opportunities and lessons from extreme years”. Speakers covered a wide range of topics relevant to the theme from across arid Australia. The symposium was well-attended. The presentations from the symposium were published as a special issue of Austral Ecology that came out in November 2013 (volume 38, number 7).

A social mixer and discussion session was held at ESA 2011. It was attended by 23 people and generated a considerable amount of interesting and diverse discussion about the direction and activities of the chapter. A wide range of views and perspectives was canvassed. A similar event was run at ESA 2012 in Melbourne. It was hosted by Jose Facelli with 13 members attending.

The future

Arid ecology topics will receive considerable coverage at ESA 2014 in Alice Springs. It will be a great opportunity for the chapter to reconvene and reinvigorate and to set the agenda for the next 2-3 years. With this goal in mind the intention is to get together at the conference and to discuss ideas while in the desert. It should be inspiring and fun. Hopefully you can all make it.

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