Ecological Forecasting Initiative Hosts 2019 Conference in Washington, DC

The Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future co-sponsored the 2019 Ecological Forecasting Initiative (EFI) Conference in Washington, DC, this week. The three-day conference, co-convened by Pardee Center Faculty Research Fellow Prof. Michael Dietze, brought together an interdisciplinary group of over 100 natural and social scientists, public health professionals, engineers, and industry and federal agency representatives, with the goal of advancing research and collaboration around the use of near-term (subdaily to decadal) forecasts to understand, manage, and conserve ecosystems.

Ecological forecasting is the process of predicting changes to natural systems to better respond to environmental problems and improve our understanding of ecosystems and the services they provide. Explicit forecasts about future changes to ecosystems — and the ways humans affect those changes — have wide-ranging applications to decision-making related to fisheries, wildlife, algal blooms, wildfire, human disease, and more.

The conference featured keynote talks by participants from NOAA, NASA, and universities from across the country, as well as several series of lightning talks and a poster session.

Six cross-cutting themes, each exploring a broad range of ecological topics, were covered over the course of the conference: theory and synthesis; decision science; education and inclusion; cyberinfrastructure; methods and tools; and partnerships and public engagement. The keynote talks, lightning talks, and panel discussions were streamed live and will be available to watch on the EFI website.

Following the conference, working groups will be created and resources will be developed on the EFI website to continue fostering dialogue, encouraging innovation, and charting new research directions for an expanding interdisciplinary community of practice around ecological forecasting.

The 2019 EFI Conference was sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Pardee Center, and the National Science Foundation’s Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE).