95th ESA Annual Meeting (August 1 -- 6, 2010)

SYMP 1 -10 - Ecologists must predict the future… or else. Discuss

Monday, August 2, 2010: 4:40 PM
Blrm A, David L Lawrence Convention Center
K. Cuddington, Department of Biology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada and Alan Hastings, Dept. of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA
Background/Question/Methods   Using examples from the symposium session, we argue that ecologists must foster a tight and reciprocal linkage between theory and management in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Prediction is a necessary step in developing management plans, and data from management efforts are essential to produce useful predictions. Yet there are still significant barriers to such collaboration, and few success stories. Excluding political issues, these barriers include minor matters, such as lack of contact between theorists and managers, as well as fundamental issues, such as a dismissal by some empiricists of the whole enterprise of theoretical ecology. Two other central issues are the need to make predictions as required for policy when data are limited, and our ability to account for uncertainties in both predictions and management outcomes.

Results/Conclusions   We further suggest that if ecology cannot meet the challenges of the next 25 years with solutions which at least maintain essential environmental functions, our discipline will be discredited in the eyes of policy makers and funding agencies. Following discussion and debate from the floor, we will identify critical objectives to improve our chances of ameliorating climate change impacts.