The time has come. The annual meeting of the BES will start in less than a week and every attendee is right now preparing for the upcoming week of Ecology.

Some will be polishing their talks and posters (because everyone has almost finished their contributions by now, haven’t they?), while others will be organizing the agenda to make the best of their time at the meeting. However, all of us are for sure excited to see the state of the art ecological science and discover the cutting-edge research that will push forward ecology over the coming years.

This year the meeting is held in Belfast, a city I have never been to before, but that I am more than happy to discover. The conference venue, the ICC Belfast, seems a great place, able to welcome the large group of ecologists that will meet, but also optimally located in the city center, close to where all city action happens. I am particularly curious about Titanic Belfast, the place that tells the history of this huge and unfortunate ship (I did not know it was built there), which is also the venue for the meeting dinner on Thursday. In addition, the city will be crowded with markets anticipating Christmas, so maybe it is worth it saving some time to visit this seasonal attraction. I will surely do it!

It is well known that ecologists do not fear anything and dare to travel through space and time if necessary.

Focusing on the meeting, this year we have a nicely diverse set of topics. It is well known that ecologists do not fear anything and dare to travel through space and time if necessary. Moving from the smallest soil grains (Microbial ecology, Soil Ecology & Plant-soil interactions, Parasites and Pathogens) to the global scale (Macroecology & Biogeography). Unraveling mysteries from the past (Paleoecology), the future (Evolutionary Ecology) or all the timeline simultaneously! (see the thematic session ‘Embracing the temporal dimension of ecology’). All of these without forgetting the multiple scales of life, starting from the cells (Environmental Physiology), going through species (Population Ecology, Species interactions) and arriving to ecosystems (Community ecology, Ecosystem & Functional Ecology). Any small part contributes to the big puzzle that is ecology.

Importantly, we should not forget to add to this entangled bank the human dimension. There are several sessions linking ecology with people, including ecosystems management (Conservation Science & Policy, Agricultural Science & Policy), the interface between society and ecology (Nature & Humans) and the more than welcome field of citizen science (thematic session ‘Beyond the hype: how can citizen science deliver real environmental impact?’). In addition, human dimension is one of the main topic for the workshops, including transmitting science (‘Communicating and amplifying science with social media’, ‘Engaging with schools’) and oneself wellness (Work-life balance), key components to get the best from our work as scientists. Finally, there will be plenty of opportunities to meet other ecologists, both during breaks (are there any really?) or during any of the social events scheduled (including post conference tours and the much anticipated conference dinner). Even plenary speakers will be happy to spare their time with any of you.

I even got a postdoc contract just by speaking with other ecologists at the meeting in 2014, who now have become one of my closest collaborators and friends. So please, do not hesitate to interact with other ecologists, one of the best (if not the best) things that BES annual meeting has to offer.

So much stuff and so little time… I will do my best to reach everything I can but at the end, I will unluckily be forced to choose. After less than a year as Functionalecologists editor, what I will not miss will be the ‘How to be a good Associate Editor’ workshop. I am sure I will get some very good advice. I will also take my time to see some talks in ‘Community ecology (community assembly)’ and ‘Species interactions’ sessions (why do sessions that you look for always happen simultaneously?) and to see the posters. Finally, I will try to attend to the talks from my former and current colleagues and friends, and I am certain that I will end in a totally random session that will broaden my perspectives and introduce me to new people whose I will be more than happy to meet again next year. I even got a postdoc contract just by speaking with other ecologists at the meeting in 2014, who now have become one of my closest collaborators and friends. So please, do not hesitate to interact with other ecologists, one of the best (if not the best) things that BES annual meeting has to offer.

Hugo Saiz
Hugo Saiz

Thus, get ready for an upcoming week of Ecology in Belfast. Do not miss the chance to learn how scientists all over the world discuss and develop the future ecological research, meet old collaborators and create new ones. And if you have some free time, maybe you can come to see my talk on Friday at 13:15 at ‘Agricultural Science & Policy’ session. You will also find me at Functional Ecology twitter on Thursday, narrating the meeting in first person. Feel free to ask me any question that you may have.

See you all in Belfast!

Hugo Saiz