INTECOL 2013: Too Big or Too Interesting To Move?

I suppose that many of us have experienced the feeling of being at a very large conference where we have planned all of the talks we would like to see only to realize they are all in different rooms on alternating sides of the venue. As a graduate student I did my best to run from side to side trying to catch it all often missing the talk or finding that the talk was not anything near what was in the abstract that hooked me. After a few years, I noticed the strategy many of my friends and colleagues had of hunkering down in one symposium to grind it out until the day is done mixing in some quick emails during the not so great talks (thankfully this emailing tradition is less distracting now to others with touch screen tablets). When I attempted this strategy it certainly reduced big conference anxiety, but of course I missed a lot of interesting talks elsewhere on topics near to my research.

One can contrast the above ‘too big to move’ conference with the much more rare creature of the ‘too interesting to move’ conference. The too interesting to move conference is certainly the ideal where many of the talks you are keen to see fall into a few symposia and sessions scattered throughout the week. When the online program for INTECOL 2013 finally arrived online I was very pleased to see I might be hunkering down in a few places because the symposia and sessions are jammed with interesting talks that have been magically clustered into realms that interest me the most. Bravo INTECOL organizers.

My week will start off with sitting, watching and speaking in Symposium 4 on Plant Functional Ecology. I’m excited about the symposium as I really think it spans really broad perspectives and data types while (hopefully) still retaining some cohesiveness. From then on I will dabble in some symposia and some oral sessions to see the latest syntheses and what is up and coming. In particular, I will be checking out the Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics Symposium (Symposium 14) on Tuesday and the Tropical Forest Succession Symposium (Symposium 41) on Friday. In between those I will spend my Tuesday and Wednesday gorging on Forest Ecology sessions. It reminds me of a time in graduate school where my friend came up to me so excited that there were 4 or 5 food web sessions and he couldn’t believe his luck. At the time I kind of shook my head and wondered how he could sit there for 4-5 straight sessions, but now I understand…when the tree is fruiting why move on?

Nathan Swenson
Associate Editor, Journal of Ecology

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