Physiological Ecology Section Newsletter, 2005-2006


Business Meeting and Mixer:
The mixer and business meeting of the Physiological Ecology Section in Memphis will be on Tuesday, August 8, from 6:30-8:00 PM, L-12, Lobby Level, Cook Convention Center. There will be a cash bar and refreshments, both of which we will share this year with the Soil Ecology Section. Again, our finite budget did not allow us to order a large quantity of food, so we would like to request that section members view the food as appetizers only, and plan on getting dinner at another venue after the meeting/mixer. This will hopefully allow all attendees from both sections to get at least one small plate of food. After everyone has gotten a chance to get some food and a beverage, our sections will then split up into separate rooms for our respective business meetings (the Soils Section will move to L-11).

Stan Smith is in his second (and last) year as Chair of the Section. Stan is a Professor of Life Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Jed Sparks took over as Secretary of the Section on January 1, 2006. Jed is an Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University. Many thanks go to Gretchen North, 2004-2005 Section Secretary, for her excellent work coordinating our awards program and many other timely efforts. Announcement of an election for a new Chair will be made at the business meeting. To this end, we are soliciting nominations for Chair of the Section, commencing January 1, 2007 (see below).

Support for the Section Web Site:
The Physiological Ecology Section was awarded funds from the ESA to improve the Section's web site with regard to pedagogy. Russ Monson, as past Chair of the Section, and Rob Jackson, as current Section Web Guru, teamed for a proposal that was awarded and provided funds for Rob to hire a staff person to contribute to the web site course and teaching sections. Based on that proposal, the class listings were thoroughly updated and now contain links to more than 80 different courses in physiological and ecosystem ecology and global change. Four brand new pages of links were also added on these topics: Writing Resources; Time Management; Publish or Perish; and Ethics and Professional Conduct. The advent of Blackboard and other proprietary websites has made locating actual notes and lectures more difficult than it used to be, so if individuals have course material that they would like to share, they should send those links to Rob ( and/or Will Cook (


The W.D. and S.M. Billings Award, given in recognition of the lifetime contributions of Dwight and Shirley Billings to Physiological Ecology, is presented each year for the outstanding oral presentation by a student member of the Section. The Outstanding Poster Award is given to the student with the most outstanding poster presentation. Each award seeks to recognize significant advancements in physiological ecology, with entrants judged on the rigor, creativity, importance, and presentation of their research. Each award carries a prize of $500 and a book award.

The New Phytologist Trust continues its commitment to contribute $500 annually towards the Billings Award. New Phytologist, a broad-spectrum plant science journal, was established in 1902 by the pioneer ecologist Arthur Tansley. The goals of the non-profit Trust are to promote education and research in plant sciences. More information and links to the journal New Phytologist can be found at

In August 2002, the Section arranged with Charles Crumly of Academic Press (Elsevier) for AP to make available a free book of each student's choice to the winners of the Billings and Best Poster Awards, as well as to the students receiving Honorable Mentions in these contests. We are grateful to Academic Press for this continuing commitment to honor the efforts and support the education of outstanding graduate students.

Student Award Winners, Montréal 2005:

Congratulations to Laura Scott-Denton, winner of the 2005 Billings Award, for her talk "Spatially-explicit modeling of soil respiration rate in a high-elevation, subalpine forest", with Russ Monson, co-author. Laura's work was conducted at the University of Colorado.

Congratulations to Lisa Patrick, winner of the 2005 Best Poster Award, for her poster "Responses of net ecosystem carbon and water exchange to a large winter precipitation pulse in a sotol-grassland at Big Bend National Park, Texas", with Traesha Robertson, Natasja van Gestel, and David Tissue as co-authors. Lisa's work was conducted at Texas Tech University.

Due to an overwhelming preponderance of oral presentations in relation to poster presentations in 2005, the judges' committee and officers of the Physiological Ecology Section decided to give two Honorable Mentions for the 2005 Billings Award. Honorable mentions for the Billings Award were Catarina Moura from Duke University for her talk "Gene expression of loblolly pine exposed to elevated CO2 in the field", co-authored by Ruth Greene (Virginia Tech) and Rob Jackson, and Rachel Spicer from Harvard University for her presentation entitled "Small scale patterns with large scale implications: the role of programmed cell death in determining the sapwood volume of trees", co-authored by Michele Holbrook.

This Year's Competition:

We currently have 23 entrants for the Billings and Best Poster Award competitions (approximately equally distributed this year), and a healthy number of section members (> 20) that have volunteered to be judges this year. Thanks to all the judges who have volunteered this year; the enthusiasm shown by both entrants and judges attests to the continued vigor of the Section. However, we should also add that we have seen a fairly significant overlap of judges from year to year, meaning a few dedicated people are primarily supporting our awards program. If we want this program to remain a success, we need more diverse support within the Section in judging our graduate student presentations at future meetings.

Section Booth at the Annual Meeting:
To help alleviate judging confusion over the Billings, Best Poster, Buell and other awards, there will be a single 'awards' booth at the Memphis meeting in order to consolidate the student awards programs at ESA. The booth will have a single ballot box with ballots and judging information for the various awards, and will display the winning Physiological Ecology poster shown from 2005. This will enable us to highlight the research that students are doing in the Section.


At this year's meeting in Memphis, the Physiological Ecology Section is sponsoring a Symposium titled "Thermal Physiology as a Biogeographic Determinant: Historical and Mechanistic Perspectives", organized by Sarah Gilman (University of Washington), Jonathan Stillman (San Francisco State University), and Joshua Tewksbury (University of Washington). The symposium is scheduled for Thursday morning, 8:00 to 11:30 a.m., in Cotton Row, Mezzanine Level, Cook Convention Center. Please make every effort to attend and support our Section's symposium!

In 2005, the Section sponsored two organized oral sessions. Howard Neufeld (Appalachian State University) and Nancy Grulke (U.S. Forest Service) organized a session entitled "Appreciating the Impacts of Oxidative Stress: From Genes to Ecosystems." Additionally, Stan Wullschleger (Oak Ridge National Lab), Rob Jackson (Duke University), and Todd Dawson (University of California, Berkeley) organized a session entitled "Sensors and Sensor Networks in Ecology."

Already time to organize next year's symposium and organized oral sessions!

We would like to make one of the agenda items for this year's business meeting next year's symposia. Our Section is allowed to endorse one symposium each year, but this endorsement letter is due in the ESA office by September 15. Given that we need to conduct internal ad hoc review of symposium proposals, we need to receive completed proposals by September 1 so that we can provide reviewers with sufficient time to conduct their reviews. We would therefore like to discuss potential symposium topics during the business meeting, and potentially aid symposium organizers in the process of identifying participants. To date, we have two symposium topics that have been tentatively proposed, but we would like additional ideas prior to the meeting. Please send potential symposium topics to Stan Smith ( or Jed Sparks ( prior to the meeting, if at all possible.


We do not have any significant new issues to discuss at this year's Business Meeting, so the agenda is fairly open. If anyone has an item that they would like to bring up for discussion, please contact Stan and Jed (email addresses above) prior to the meeting and we will get it on the agenda.

One business item we need to move forward is the election of a new Chair for the 2007-2008 calendar years. To expedite this process, we are continuing to solicit nominations from the Section membership. The duties of the Chair include (1) organizing and running the annual Business Meeting, (2) writing an annual report for the Section and attending the annual ESA Council Meeting, (3) writing this annual newsletter, plus occasional newsletters during the year, and (4) initiating special projects that may originate with the Chair, from the ESA governing board, or from other interested Section members. If you send in a nomination, please confirm that the nominee is willing to serve for a full 2-year term, and must attend the annual ESA meeting in each of those years. Self-nominations are also encouraged. Please note that we need two nominations by the end of the Business Meeting on Tuesday! We currently have one nomination, so need one more nominee in order to hold an election.

Please let us know your ideas and your willingness to contribute in any area to the Section. Your input and efforts are important if we want our Section to continue to prosper. Thanks, and see you in Memphis.

Stan Smith and Jed Sparks

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