Ecology Across Borders 2017

You are here

Ecology Across Borders 2017

11. - 14. December 2017 in Ghent, Belgium

This year the GfÖ is organising its annual meeting together with the British Ecological Society (BES), the Nederlands-Vlaamse vereniging voor ecologie (NecoV), and the European Ecological Federation (EEF), the umbrella organisation of the European ecological societies.

Owing to the joint organisation of the meeting, there will be some changes in the program compared to earlier annual meetings of the GfÖ. Threfore, we would like to give an overview on some of the changes with the following list.

AccommodationChild careContactDeadlinesEcology Across Borders 2017ExcursionsFringe events  Keywords Lunch Plenary SpeakersPostersPrices & fees ProgramRegistration SessionsSocial mediaSocial eventsThematic Sessions Talks / Presentations Venue Workshops


Please book your accommodation as early as possible! This year, the annual meeting takes place in mid-december, and there will be a high demand for hotel rooms by 'normal' tourists, too. There will be special rates for participants, and you will be able to book a room when you register.

Child care

The conference welcomes families and children! In case two parents take turns supervising their child, each of them can only participate in half of the conference program. Therefore, we offer a reduced family rate for the second parent. In case a partner only wants to join the social events (lunch, coffee breaks, Welcome Mixer), he/she can participate at a reduced rate, too.


Please direct questions concerning the program and local organisation to the BES organising team. For questions concerning differences between normal GfÖ annual meetings and EAB2017, please contact Juliane Röder (presse(at)


Registration starts mid of June 2017. More information on deadlines will be available here soon, and of course on the conference website.

Ecology Across Borders 2017

Why is this year's annual meeting called 'Ecology Across Borders'? This title underlines the cooperation of BES, NecoV, EEF and GfÖ, organising a joint meeting this year. Lately, especially with Brexit on the doorstep, is has become increasingly important for researchers to cooperate regardless of political borders.


On Friday, 15 December 2017, there will be the usual optional scientific and non-scientific excursions. Additionally, the organising team can help you to plan city tours or museum visits, or direct you to local tour operators.


Updated information on the importance and selection of Keywords:

When you submit an abstract, you will be first asked to select a general ecological topic from a given list of TOPICS. Afterwards, you select a number of SUBTOPICS (= keywords) from a given list of terms which best describe your abstract. These keywords are used to group similarly focused talks within session. As abstracts are always submitted by individuals, not groups, there are no guarantees that a specific set of eight talks will go into the same session. However, if talks have the same set of TOPICS and SUBTOPICS, the chance to be in the same session increases, of course. There is the option to use other keywords than the given SUBTOPICS. This could be a way to 'hack the system' with highly specific keywords (e.g. Kadaververjüngung), and to show that you as a group would like to have a session of your own - without any guarantee that you will get it! The BES aims at having a high diversity within sessions considering levels of seniority, gender, and, especially this year, to make sessions international. The chance to get a talk improves with a strong title and a strong abstract! People who do not get a talk are usually offered to present their work as a poster instead. Only after the sessions have been set, there will be an open call to the presenters for volunteers to chair sessions. The prospective Session Chairs, however, have only limited, if any, choice which session he or she chairs. And they have no possibility to decide who talks when, their only task is to introduce the speakers and to make them keep the time.



The registration fees include lunch on all three days of the conference. This is the main reason why the fees are higher this year compared to fees at earlier annual meetings of the GfÖ. However, having lunch at the conference allows more time for all those important chats with recent and potential cooperation partners, and for workshops, which are scheduled at lunch time (you can take your food to the workshops). And may the person you have been looking for for ages is just in front of you in the queue for the food?


Plenary Speakers

We have the honour to present Carlos Herrera, Iain Couzin, Sue Hartley und Louise Vet as Plenary Speakers. You can find short bios of these amazing researchers here.


There will be wine at the poster sessions. Any more qustions? Tuesday and Wednesday early evenings, you and your glas can have a stroll through the rows of posters. A pretty convincing idea for future GfÖ meetings. Of course you can have non-alcoholic drinks instead.

Additionally to your scientific posters, we would like to introduce the 'Up-Goer Five'-initiative to you. The challenge: explain your work with only 250 of the ten hundred (= thousand) most commonly used English words. The aim: make your work accessible for non-ecologists and for scientific laymen. It's never too early to practise science communication! A text editor with correction and thesaurus functions is available here, a very nice example by xkcd here.

Prices & fees

Member of the organising Societies are eligible to reduced member rates. Please indicate your affiliation with one of the societies upon registration, the registrations will be checked against the member lists afterwards.


The conference program is based on the program at normal BES annual meetings. Among the organising societies, BES has the most members and has experience handling meetings with more than 1000 participants. One of the useful gadgets is the conference app, which allows participants to plan the talks and events they want to visit. With twelve parallel sessions, this is a nice feature.


All registrations for the conference are handled by the BES. Upon registration, you will be asked whether you are a member of GfÖ, BES and/or NecoV. Members of these societies are eligible to reduced fees. There are reduced rates for students and of course for student members, too. Please note the importance of keywords for the assignment of your abstract to a specific session!


At GfÖ annual meetings, the sessions proposed by our members are the essence of the meeting. For GfÖ annual meetings, the session chairs prepare their respective sessions, invite speakers, check the quality and scope of abstracts, may change the form of presentation (talk <> poster), decide on the sequence of presentations, and finally moderate the session at the meeting.

At BES annual meetings, the procedure is a lot different. BES has a more members and an office with ca. 20 fulltime employees, therefore the structure and the preparations of the joint annual meeting of GfÖ and BES (and NecoV and EEF) are based on the BES-structure. 'Sessions' at BES meetings are always blocks of 2 h, which are assembled by the organizers. Submitted abstracts are first sorted by the key words which are indicated upon submission, then assigned to general topics, and finally arranged in blocks of 8 talks each. The selection of talks is not only based on quality and topic, but there are a number of additional criteria: both young and established researchers should get a chance to present their work, the gender ratio of the session should represent the gender ratio upon submission, a.s.f.. The organizers decide on the sequence, too, as well as on the type of presentation (talk <> poster). In the end, conference participants are asked whether they want to moderate a session, but usually not the one in which they are presenting a talk themselves. One of the advantages of this top-down approach is that there are almost no empty time slots in the final program. Participants who were not considered for a talk in the first round can move into the program whenever a talk is cancelled.

In total there will be 12 parallel sessions in Ghent, with 72 blocks à 2 h. Additional to the ca. 89-104 talks in the 13 thematic sessions, there will be 472 time slots available for talks à 15 min. With ca. 1200 participants expected participants, this means that more than one in three can give a talk in front of, arithmetically speaking, 99 listeners each. Who said that conferences were supposed to be easy-going ...?

Social media

We are looking forward to your twitter and facebook messages from the #EAB2017 conference! In case you do not want pictures or contents of your talk or poster to be published and shared on twitter, facebook, instagram, jodel, ... you can include this icon in your presentation or poster.

Please note that questions to the Plenary Speakers will have to be submitted via twitter during the respective talk with the hashtag #EAB2017 or #eab2017! In case you don't have a twitter account, you can ask your neighbour in the plenum to twitter for you, or ask for one of the two microphones which will be available. As the time for questions is limited and the lecture hall is large, you should at least consider the twitter option.

Social events

Additional to the session program, there will be again many different social and fringe events: Conference Dinner, Science Slam, a Ceilidh, and more. We would like to encourage the AKs (eng. SIGs - Special Interest Groups) to submit proposals for small side events, so called 'fringe events', e.g. a scientific pub quiz in the evening. At the last BES meeting in Liverpool 2016, the BES SIG Parasites and Pathogens organised a movie night featuring "The Thing", with an introductory talk on the science behind the movie... Creative suggestions for fringe events (maybe together with the respective BES and NecoV SIGs) can apply for financial support by the GfÖ :-)

Thematic Sessions

The structure of BES 'Thematic Sessions' is comparable to GfÖ 'Sessions'. Thematic sessions are proposed and conducted by society members. However, thematic sessions as well as 'normal' sessions are restricted to 2 h in total, i.e. 8 x 15 min or 1 x 30 min + 6 x 15 min. And: there are only very few of these sessions at BES meetings – this year only 13! This is a striking contrast to the usual 25-35 sessions at GfÖ meetings! NecoV and EEF meetings have a similar structure as GfÖ meetings, so the number of submissions from these three societies was very high! This means: In case your session proposal was not accepted, this has nothing do with quality, but simply with the large number of submissions!

We only realized the full extent of different meanings of the term “session” for GfÖ versus BES when it was already too late to inform you. We sincerely apologize for any inconveniences!

There is still a possibility to have a session with a number of pre-selected talks using specific keywords for the upload. Please refer to the paragraph on keywords for further details.

Talks / Presentations

The time slots for talks are again 15 min, with a max. of 13 min for the actual talk, and at least 2 min for questions and logistics. Details on required formats and on the submission of talks can be found on the conference website.


We are meeting in Ghent this year, a beautiful city crossed by channels linked to the North Sea, with a mix of Art Nouveau and modern architecture. Ghent is at a comfortable distance by train from the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and of course the Netherlands (which is of major importance for the ecological footprint of such a large meeting). You can reach Ghent in only 7.5 h from Bern, Berlin and Munich, and even Vienna is only 11.5 h away. Considering the significant buffer and waiting times that are necessary for air travel, you will find that trains are usually only a little slower (sometimes even faster) than planes :-) Further information on beautiful Ghent is available on the conference website.


On Monday, 10 December 2017, there will be a program of workshops for early career scientists. Tuesday through Thursday, there will be 1.5 h - workshops during lunch time (you can get your lunch and bring it to the workshop). There will be workshops on methods as well as career workshops available.