Many QAEcologists have just returned from an energising week at the annual conference of the Ecological Society of Australia, this year held in Adelaide. The conference theme was Interconnectedness; in his opening address Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews encouraged us to consider not just connections among study species or among research disciplines, but the more emotional connections the community can make with Australia’s wildlife.
This was most deeply expressed in the symposium on Sustaining and protecting Indigenous ecological knowledge. Life, language and culture were interwoven into many presentations, with land care offering an important opportunity for multiple generations to share traditions and future aspirations. Technologies such as video recording and unmanned aerial vehicles sit side-by-side with millennia-old knowledge and cultural practices.
Plenary speakers such as Andrew Bennett, Saul Cunningham and Roger Cousens spoke quite explicitly about the need to connect our conservation efforts to competing needs for food and fibre, economic production and issues of land tenure. Similar themes also arose in symposia such as Advances in urban ecology and research practice, Synthesizing restoration outcomes in agricultural and mined landscapes, and Advances in the ecology and management of production landscapes. Other plenary speakers Daniel Falster, Jason Tylianakis and Tara Martin took more technical approaches towards interconnectedness in their research presentations.
A team of QAEcologists have been quietly collecting data all year in aid of the penultimate plenary on Diversity & Equity in Ecology, presented by Emma Johnston and Mark Burgman. Though it appeared late in the program, to a crowd still recovering from the cocktail event, we’d venture to suggest it was one of the more talked and tweeted-about presentations of the week. (Check out the storified summary here.) We hope the conversation will continue for many years yet.
ESA isn’t just a venue for established ecologists to speak; if anything the student presentations and twitter interactions are its strongest forces. QAEcologist Freya Thomas was among the student prize-winners, and La Trobe University’s Luke O’Loughlin tweeted comic highlights of the conference throughout the week. Online communication will be a wonderful way to stay connected and enthusiastic about our ecological pursuits before we meet again next year in Fremantle.