Sunday, May 18, 2008

Annual Report of IBS Activities: January 2007 – January 2008

John (Jack) W. Williams, Secretary, International Biogeography Society
Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA. jww(at)

The Secretary … reports annually to Membership on actions taken by the Governing Board of Directors.” (IBS Bylaws)

This report briefly summarizes major activities pursued by the International Biogeographical Society and its Governing Board of Directors from January 2007 to January 2008. This time window begins with the Third Biennial Conference of IBS (held in Tenerife, Spain, January 9-13, 2007) and concludes with the annual meeting of the Governing Board held in Washington, DC, USA, January 11-13, 2008).

1. Third Biennial IBS Conference: Tenerife, Spain January 9-13 2007
The Third Biennial Conference of the International Biogeographic Society was an unqualified success. Previous newsletters have reported on the highlights of the meeting (IBS Newsletter 5[1]) and summarized members’ feedback (IBS Newsletter 5[3]), so this report is limited to a few vital statistics:
a. Number of attendees: ~320.
b. Number of countries represented: 35
c. Income: 55,138 Euros
d. Expenses: 53,280 Euros

Thus, 97% of all conference revenue directly supported conference activities, while leaving a small surplus for future IBS activities. Major revenue sources included sponsorships from third-party organizations and governments, registration fees, on-site vending, and pre-allocated transfers from the IBS general fund (which is mainly supported by membership dues and donations). Major expenses included catering, bus rental, printing, AV, administrative assistance, speaker costs, cleaning, and the cost of goods sold.
The IBS Governing Board of Directors is deeply grateful to the tireless efforts of Dr. José María Fernández-Palacios, his students, and Dr. Robert Whittaker (President-Elect of IBS) in organizing the meeting, and to George Stevens (VP for Development and Awards) for coordinating membership registration. The Governing Board also gratefully acknowledges support from the Spanish Government, the Island Government of Tenerife (Cabildo Insular de Tenerife), the city of Puerto de la Cruz (Ayuntamiento del Puerto de la Cruz), PAGES (Past Global Changes), MarBEF (Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning, the National Science Foundation, Oxford University Press, and Blackwell Publishing.
See the March 2008 issue of the Journal of Biogeography (accessible to IBS members through the IBS website) for a special issue devoted to papers presented at the Third Biennial Conference.

2. Fourth Biennial IBS Conference: Mérida, Mexico January 8-12 2009
Dave Hafner (VP for Conferences), Ella Vázquez-Domínguez, and colleagues at the Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Autónoma de México are hard at work preparing for the Fourth Biennial Conference, to be held in Mérida, México next January. Their report in the 2007 Winter issue of the IBS Newsletter 5(4) gives more details about the venue and plans. The big development since then is that the list of symposia has been finalized. They are:
Biogeography of Extinction (Organizers: Jack Williams, Steve Jackson, Felisa Smith)
Pattern and Process at Biogeographic Boundaries (Organizers: Brett Riddle, Dave Hafner)
Biogeography of Disease (Organizers: Kate Smith, Sam Scheiner)
Asian and American Disjuncts (Organizers: Jun Wen, Robert Ricklefs)
See the flyer included in this newsletter for a partial list of invited speakers; the lists of invited speakers for the symposia are being finalized and will be advertised in the next newsletter. In addition, we will experiment with a half-day of no more than three concurrent sessions of contributed talks, selected from submitted abstracts. Submission requirements, deadlines, and selection criteria for contributed talks will be posted on the IBS website before June.
Pre-conference workshops include Visualizing Evolution in Space and Time (David Kidd), Science Writing (Robert Whittaker), and Spatial Analysis in Macroecology (José Alexandre Felizola Diniz-Filho). Pre-and post-conference field excursions will tour the Chichén Itzá ruins, Dzibilchaltún ruins, Ría Celestún, and Loltún and Calcehtok Caves.
Registration costs and dates are in the process of being finalized, but the early-bird registration deadline will likely fall in mid-October. Meeting registration will be limited to the first 500 registrants; posters will be limited to the first 250 submitted. More details on this and other meeting-related information will be coming soon … stay tuned.

3. Membership
The number of IBS members reached an all-time high in 2007, with over 720 members. Our membership numbers clearly track the biennial meeting cycle, with the number of members growing in the months prior to the January 2007 meeting, cresting shortly after the meeting, and then declining in summer and fall of 2007. This post-meeting waning of the IBS membership is of some concern to the IBS Governing Board, although we expect that by early 2009, the number of IBS members will equal or exceed 2007 levels. The Board is discussing ways to keep membership levels high during off years in our biennial meeting cycle.
Membership registration and recruitment is managed by George Stevens, VP for Development and Awards.

4. Public Affairs and Communications
In 2007, activities by the VP for Public Affairs and Communications (Miguel Araújo) focused on two areas of activity: improving and expanding the quarterly electronic newsletter sent to IBS members, and creating a new blog for the IBS.
A new team of editors was appointed to the newsletter, led by Miguel Araújo (Chair) and Joaquín Hortal (Managing Editor). The graphic design of the newsletter was updated and improved, a new section consisting of interviews with senior biogeographers was launched (Profiles in Biogeography, led by Lee Hannah), and two new sections are being launched in 2008 (The Teaching of Biogeography, led by Richard Pearson, and Conservation Biogeography, led by Antje Ahrens). An effort also is being made to publish thought-provoking guest editorials (for an excellent example, see the editorial by Bradford Hawkins in this issue). Finally, an official email address for the newsletter was created: ibs(at)
The IBS blog, found at, was created in response to a call by several IBS members at the Tenerife meeting. Blogs have become mainstream media tools for providing commentary and news on the Internet and the vision of IBS is to use this technology to increase communication among IBS members and promote the discipline outside of the society. Currently, the content of the blog is heavily tied to the newsletter, providing the opportunity to write comments on the articles published. We anticipate that the blog can be used for feedback during and after the Mérida meeting. Posting to the blog is open to all IBS members.
Additionally, the IBS website is in the process of being updated and overhauled by Lois Alexander (Treasurer and Webmaster) … more soon.

5. Awards
John Avise was awarded the 2007-2009 Alfred Russel Wallace Award, and will be giving the keynote address at the 2009 IBS conference in Mérida.
At the January 2008 board meeting, the Governing Board of Directors voted to create a standing Awards Committee that will report to the VP of Development and Awards. Previously, awards were made by an ad hoc committee, which led to issues of continuity.

6. Graduate Student Development Committee
Dov Sax (Director-at-Large) has volunteered to lead a new committee tasked with promoting the development and participation of biogeography graduate students in IBS, and specifically to obtain resources to aid the travel of graduate students to the IBS conferences.

Respectfully submitted,

Jack Williams
Secretary, International Biogeography Society

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