Ecosystems provide society with flood mitigation, pollination of crops, clean air and water, and production of timber and other natural resources. Recognizing this, the Association of Ecosystem Research Centers (AERC) brought scientists, natural resource managers, and policymakers to Washington, DC on 19 October 2011 for the organization’s annual Congressional briefing and science symposium. The theme for the program was: “Ecosystem Research: Informing Our Understanding of Ecosystem Services and Their Benefits.”

The AERC briefing is held each year in conjunction with the organization’s scientific meeting. Individuals representing congressional offices, federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations attended the briefing, where they heard from scientists working at the nexus of science and public policy.

Dr. David Smith, AERC president and professor at the University of Virginia, moderated the one-hour Capital Hill science briefing. Program speakers were: Dr. Rebecca Moore of the University of Georgia, Dr. Brian Palik of the USDA Forest Service, Dr. Charles Perrings of Arizona State University, Dr. Andy Rosenberg of Conservation International and the University of New Hampshire, and Dr. Donald E. Weller of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. The congressional briefing was videotaped, and a copy of the video will be posted to the AERC website (

After the briefing in the Rayburn House Office Building, the group moved down the National Mall to the National Museum of the American Indian, where AERC convened a half-day scientific symposium and reception.

As a member organization of AIBS and a contributor to the AIBS Public Policy Office, AERC received planning and logistical assistance for the congressional briefing from AIBS. For more information about AERC, please visit For more information about the AIBS Public Policy Office and its services for AIBS members and contributing societies, please visit


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