California, Here I Come!

OK—that’s corny, I realize.  Right out of the DeSylva/Meyer song of the same name from the 1921 Broadway musical Bombo, starring Al Jolson.  But it’s always uttered with a great deal of excitement by anyone who uses that expression, and this is no exception.  Annual meetings of the Ecological Society of America are always exciting for me, and even more so for this ‘easterner’ to be travelling to Sacramento.

As I shared in a similar blog for last year’s meeting in Minneapolis, MN, I have had a long-standing tradition of attending ESA meetings.  Among the historic high points are the symposia I organized and presided over (1993, 1998, and 2003) and serving as Program Chair for the 2010 meeting in Pittsburgh.  Because of my Chair-related, inside knowledge of symposia I was pleased to be able to connect with Journal editors, leading to a Special Issue in May 2011:  Ecological Consequences of Climate Extremes.

Furthermore, especially since my arrival in 1990 here at Marshall University—a public school small state (among the 50 United States, West Virginia ranks 38th in population) and with very limited personal access to colleagues doing similar research—annual ESA meetings have become a professional ‘lifeline,’ connecting me with ecologists from throughout North America and the world.  I also greatly enjoy both the talks and the feedback on current research I present every year.  But another extremely enjoyable tradition since joining the editorial board of the Journal of Ecology, is the annual dinner for editors—what an amazing combination of great food, wine, spirits, along with the best company and conversation.  Also from a personal standpoint, these meetings are special opportunities to combine keeping up on current research and seeing my ‘ESA friends,’ those folks I have met through the years who I would otherwise essentially never see.

So, what about this year’s ESA meeting in Sacramento, California?  Per usual, I will be excited to reconnect with those ESA friends, go to interesting talks, and re-join staff and fellow editors at Journal of Ecology for another great evening out for our annual dinner.  One special facet this year, however, will be the promotion by Oxford University Press of the publication of my third book, The Herbaceous Layer in Forests of Eastern North America, 2nd edition, the first edition of which actually began as an ESA symposium in 1998 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Finally, as is always my practice, I will present a paper.  This one examines a serious environmental threat—the effects of excess nitrogen (N) on forest biodiversity—by comparing results of field studies that look at the response of the herbaceous layer to experimental N additions in hardwood forests of sharply contrasting sites:  a temperate forest in West Virginia, and a tropical forest in southeastern China.  (COS 142-9 “Response of the herbaceous layer of contrasting forest ecosystems to excess nitrogen deposition”)

California, here I come, indeed!

Frank Gilliam

Associate Editor, Journal of Ecology

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