Tuesday, January 8, 2008

IBS 2009 - First announcement

Your IBS Board and specifically Ella Vázquez-Domínguez and the Local Committee at the Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Autónoma de México, México D.F. invite you to plan ahead now to attend the 2009 biennial meetings of the IBS in Mérida, Yucatán, México from 8 to 12 January 2009.

Mérida is in the midst of cultural, natural, historical, and geological riches. The beautiful colonial “White City” was founded in January 1542 on the ruins of the Mayan city of T’ho, and is only 120 km from the archeological wonders of Chichén Itzá. The center of the Chicxulub Crater, formed from an asteroid impact 65 mya and implicated in the K-T extinctions, is located 20 km outside of Mérida (in the pueblo of Chicxulub). Several biosphere reserves are within easy distance of Mérida (e.g., Celestun and Ría Lagarto Biosphere Reserves). Check out these and other enchanting features of Mérida on the web.

Climate should be ideal in January, and we’re planning field trips to explore the natural and archeological wealth of the region.

Your enthusiastic response to our survey about our biennial meetings told us what you most liked about our meetings and what needed improvement. The respondents also gave us clear directives on how we might improve upon them. Specifically, the membership particularly valued the personal, intimate nature of our meetings that encourages interaction and cross-discipline discussion. At the same time, members wanted increased opportunities for oral presentations, particularly for up-and-coming researchers and advanced graduate students; increased, dedicated opportunities for group discussions; longer time and increased space to view posters; and increased involvement of paleontologists, geographers, and geologists. The survey results offered specific means to these ends, and we are most grateful for this input. As a result of your comments we have altered the format of the meeting; we hope you like the results.

Board considerations for the Mérida meetings fall into three general categories: 1) format of symposia; 2) topics of symposia; and 3) limits on meeting size. We’re planning to experiment with several different symposium formats that will include that of previous meeting symposia; one that includes selected contributed papers; and we’ve agreed (after extensive debate) to experiment with ½-day of no more than 3 concurrent sessions. By creatively selecting concurrent session topics, we hope to avoid the typical effect of segregating participants by discipline.

We’re looking for symposium topics that will continue and enhance our success of involving biogeographers from diverse disciplines, intrigue those underrepresented sciences (e.g., paleo, geography, and geology) and the general public, and also be most pertinent to the regional setting. We’re currently considering the following topics for four symposia: Environmental Change and Ecological Collapse; K-T Boundary extinctions; Diversification Across the Neotropical-Nearctic Transition Zone; Biogeography of Paleoboundaries and Paleo Hotspots; Caribbean Biogeography—Integrating Marine & Terrestrial Biogeography; the Great American Biotic Exchange; Human Biogeography and the Biogeography of Infectious Diseases; and Asian American Disjuncts.

Additionally, we are very pleased to announce that John C. Avise will be in attendance to receive the 2007 – 2009 Alfred Russel Wallace Award, joining our first two distinguished recipients, John C. Briggs (2003 – 2005) and Jared Diamond (2005 – 2007). And we’ve already scheduled one workshop: “Visualizing Evolution in Space and Time.” For background information about the workshop, see the article by David Kidd in the Summer 2007 IBS Newsletter 5(2):6-8 (available online at http://biogeography.blogspot.com/2007/07/geophylogenies-uniting-space-and-time.html).

While the growth of our Society has been beyond our expectations and demonstrates both the vital role and enthusiastic support of our organization, we share the members’ concern that we don’t destroy the most valued aspects of our meetings by “loving it to death” with overwhelming numbers. Thus we’re setting a cap of 550 on meeting participation, and of 250 posters (in three sessions). It looks like it will be first-come, first-served; so stay tuned (via the IBS web site and Newsletter) for registration dates.

We’re working hard to respond to the membership’s input, and to build on the success of our first three biennial meetings. The Board will be meeting in January to finalize the format and topics of the meetings. If you have further input or questions, please email the VP for Conferences (Dave Hafner) at david.hafner(at)state.nm.us. If you would like to suggest speakers or titles of talks for the above symposia, please send that information to Dave. 2011 IBS Meetings.—It’s never too early to plan on the next meetings! If you have suggestions for a meeting venue, or (even better) would be interested in hosting the 2011 meetings, let Dave Hafner know!

Dave Hafner, VP Conferences and Ella Vázquez-Domínguez, director-at-large
Check the latest news on the conference at http://www.biogeography.org/meetings.htm

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