As a first time ESA goer the whole experience was pretty wild. There was nearly 4000 people in attendance of the conference and the number of sessions occurring simultaneously must have easily been over 10. I really liked manyof the talks and at times found it difficult to choose which rooms to go to. I missed out on a R-workshop but instead learned a lot about invasion melt down. Overall, good experience. Some key notes I took:
Data – Meta-data as always is very important when structuring datasets online, however ArcGIS data might require a more detailed description of the data presented. This is because ArcGIS is often a layered dataset will “planes” rather than “vectors” of data. The current standard is ISO-19115. This brings up another point, which is that excel is both power but maybe also problematic. Not all data fits best in excel and their may be other platforms that would be more advantageous.
Invasion theory – I learned a lot about invasion meltdown which I generally didn’t know before. I also noticed more incorporation of theory into basing decisions about invasion. For instance, if a native+non-native grow poorer on their own than together (interspecific<intraspecific competition) this a consequence of niche differentiation theory where species use different resources. If the native+non-native grow poorer together than separately (interspecific>intraspecific competition) than this is neutral theory/co-existence. The other novel invasion talk discussed creating a metric of invasion. Although many would quickly challenge this I really do like the simplicity of the metric. I know Ontario uses a “coefficient of conservatism” to quantify a plants susceptibility to disturbance, which can be super effective in conservation management. I wonder if there were other applicable metrics we can develop to assist in restoration decisions.
Quick land assessments – The talk about REFA plus the CNPS strategy of quickly quantifying landscapes really shows how necessary this is. Coarse estimates of landscapes are such a great idea and can give great modeling power when combined together. Global datasets already exist for temperature, preciptiation, etc. However, at the local scale ecologists can provided more refined information such as a general species composition list, topography and soil composition. If a standardized approach was used for all ecologist, this would also help with the creation of meta-data because there would be greater similarities between data sets. Lastly, I like them a lot because they are easy and can typically be done in less than half a day.
Facilitation – I had the chance to meet with some great researchers to discuss positive interactions. It was great experience and I got a lot of ideas from the discussions. I will do a separate post discussing the dialogue. The symposium also went very well and I thought it was a great balance of applied and theoretical that was specific enough to encourage listeners.
My talk – It went well actually. I was surprisingly nervous and it was early in the morning but still a good talk. Another one to add to the list.