British Ecological Society

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The British Ecological Society is a learned society in the field of ecology that was founded in 1913. It is the oldest ecological society in the world.[1] The Society's original objective was "to promote and foster the study of Ecology in its widest sense" and this remains the central theme guiding its activities today. The Society has almost 5000 members of which 14% are students. It has always had an international membership and currently 42% are outside the United Kingdom, in a total of 92 countries. The head office is located Charles Darwin House in London, alongside a wide range of other biology organisations.[2]

The Society evolved out of the British Vegetation Committee, which was founded in 1904 to promote the survey and study of vegetation in the British Isles. This initiative was in turn the outcome of what many historians perceive to have been the emergence of modern ecology in the 1890s. The British Ecological Society's inaugural meeting was held at University College London on 12 April 1913 and was attended by 47 members. Sir Arthur Tansley became the first President and the first issue of Journal of Ecology was printed in time for the meeting.

The Society's mission is to generate, communicate and promote ecological knowledge and solutions and it achieves this through a wide range of activities. It disseminates academic research through its internationally renowned journals, organises major scientific meetings, awards many grants each year to support the ecological community, is active in informing and influencing policy makers, and works to improve the teaching and learning of ecology in schools. In 2013 the Society celebrated its centenary, organising a wide range of events and activities including a major public engagement programme of over 140 events across the United Kingdom.


Publication of scientific journals is a principal activity. The Journal of Ecology was first published in 1913 in time for the inaugural meeting of the Society, followed by the Journal of Animal Ecology (1932), Journal of Applied Ecology (1964), Functional Ecology (1987), and Methods in Ecology and Evolution (2010). Members can subscribe to these journals at a low cost. The Society also partners with Wiley-Blackwell on the open access journal Ecology and Evolution.


The Society also runs several major scientific meetings for ecologists each year. The Annual Meeting currently attracts 1,200 delegates each year and provides the opportunity for ecologists to present papers and posters on a wide variety of topics; an important element has always been the active participation of research students. There is an increasing number of delegates from overseas, principally Europe. It is Europe's largest annual meeting of ecologists.[citation needed] Since 1960 the Society has run an Annual Symposium and published a volume of its papers. It supports a range of other specialist meetings, workshops, training events and field meetings.

Public Engagement[edit]

As part of its public engagement programme, the BES provides training in public engagement for its members and also organises various outreach events. These include the Sex & Bugs & Rock ‘n Roll[3] public engagement initiative which participates in various music festivals, most notably Green Man, Wychwood and Glastonbury.



  1. ^ "British Ecological Society", in Encyclopedia of Environmetrics, Abdel H. El-Shaarawi and Walter W. Piegorsch, eds. (John Wiley & Sons, 2001) p236
  2. ^ "Charles Darwin House ) Home". Charles Darwin House. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  3. ^ Sex, Bugs & Rock n' Roll // Retrieved 23 September 2015. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ T.W.W; A.G.T. (1929). "Obituary Notice: William Gardner Smith: 1866-1928". Journal of Ecology. 17 (1): 170–173.

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