E-poster abstract submissions deadline 1 October 2020
  1. One presentation rule
  2. Presentation types
  3. Abstract selection criteria
  4. Conference session themes and symposia
  5. Abstract submission
  6. Abstract template
  7. Abstract notification


One presentation rule

Delegates may submit only ONE abstract as the presenting author – regardless of presentation format (i.e. poster, speed talk or oral presentation) or whether the presentation is part of a symposium or open forum. Delegates are free to serve as a non-presenting author on multiple abstracts. Delegates are encouraged to present recent research (e.g. typically, work that has not been published in print or electronic media at the time of abstract submission). Research proposals are not suitable as oral presentations in the open programme. The first author is expected to present the work as this abstract is for the presentation, not for a paper.


Presentation type

All forms of presentation are equally assessed and valued contributions. Different presentation formats may be best suited to different kinds of content and presenter’s personal preference. Delegates are encouraged to select the presentation format that best suits the material to be presented. Some tips for presenting a talk and its slides are here. Tips for poster presentation are here. Talks and posters are their own way of communicating, and should not be presented like reading a paper.


Oral presentation (15 minutes: 10-12 minute talk + 3 minute Q&A)

Typically, oral presentations will be complete stories or largely finished research projects, with clear outcomes and conclusions. They should be placed in a broad ecological context and therefore be of general interest beyond the immediate subject area. They may be studies with complex hypotheses or study designs that require explication.

Oral presentations may be part of special Symposia or in the Open Program. Abstracts will be placed in sessions based on topics (theme) selected by the submitting author (see below).


Speed talk (5 minutes: 3-4 minute talk + 1 minute changeover)

The short duration of speed talks is well-suited to short stories, with one main idea or result, in a topical subject area that might, eventually, be published as a short communication. Typically, they will involve relatively simple or well-established methods and study designs that do not require detailed explanation.

Speed talks will be presented in 1-hour blocks of 12 talks (max.) followed by a 30 min. discussion period during which presenters will be available for discussion with members of the audience. Because there are many short talks this session tends to have most attendees; so if you want a large audience this may be preferable to the longer format.



Poster presentations are well suited for works in progress, preliminary results and proposals for imminent research. They are also ideal for topics that might be of relatively narrow interest to researchers. Studies that seem ideal for oral presentations can also be presented very effectively as posters. Posters will be on display and provide opportunities for relaxed discussion throughout the entire conference. We are exploring options for electronic posters.


Will my talk or poster be made public?

No. Conference presentations will only be available to other delegates through this conference platform. Thus presentations are not considered “published” and presentation will not limit the subsequent publication of your work. Delegates retain copyright on all their materials and the right to publish them independently following the conference. Accordingly delegates cannot redistribute any presentations by other delegates without their written permission.


Abstract selection criteria

The Scientific Committee will attempt to accommodate the preferred presentation type for all delegates. The number of oral presentations (15 min) that can be accommodated in the program is limited. In recent years, the number of delegates requesting oral presentations has exceeded the places available and this trend may continue. If the demand for oral presentations exceeds the available time slots, then the Scientific Program Committee will review all abstracts for 15 min talks (special symposia and open program) and some delegates who request oral presentations will be given the option of presenting a poster or a speed talk. We do not expect to exceed the limitation on space for posters or speed talks.

The criteria used to assess abstracts includes:

  1. relevance to the objectives of the conference
  2. compliance with the word count and format requirements for abstracts
  3. the subject of talks must interest a wide audience, whereas posters may be more specialised.

Abstracts may be submitted before all analyses and interpretations of the results have been finalised, but must still indicate their likely key message(s). Vague statements such as ‘results will be discussed’ will not be accepted.


Conference session themes and symposia

Authors of abstracts for all presentation types are required to categorise their abstract to help Program Organisers group related presentations.



An array of exciting symposia have been developed for the conference. The number of talks that can be included in a symposium is limited. If demand for a particular symposium exceeds supply, then some abstracts may be grouped with related papers in the Open Programme. It there are few abstracts submitted for a symposium it may be withdrawn, shortened, or merged with another session.


Open Program

The Open Program category is open to any abstract on any topic. Themes relate to core ecological processes and questions, and are to assist the program committee in grouping abstracts on related topics into coherent sessions or groups of posters.

In addition to short plenary sessions, there will be four parallel sessions. Thus, in organising the program, the committee wish to group presentations under special symposia or themes, to minimize the need for delegates to change rooms during parallel sessions.


Special Symposia (click here for more details and organisers)

  1. Genetic biodiversity hotspots along the Southern Ocean and adjacent coastlines
  2. OBIS celebrates 20 years. The power of integrated data
  3. Molecular tools at the service of coral reef conservation
  4. Bringing deep-ocean biodiversity knowledge to ocean policy
  5. New approaches to biodiversity assessment from environmental DNA
  6. Benthic biogeochemistry, biodiversity and ecosystem function in macrofaunal-microbial interactions
  7. Analysing marine biodiversity data – methods and insights
  8. Lessons from Marine Protected Areas


Themes (aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals which are being reviewed in 2020)

The overarching theme of the 5th WCMB is progress and solutions towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 14, with several targets for 2020. SDG goal 14 address sustainable use and conservation of oceans, including targets and indicators regarding pollution, acidification, climate warming, over-fishing, 10% protected areas, end illegal fishing and subsidies, small island states, artisanal fishing, new technology solutions, and policy development (UNCLOS). Next year, 2021, will also be the start of the UN Decade of the Oceans so presentations looking forward are also welcomed. Thus presentations for Open Sessions (may target the following aspects of marine biodiversity:

  1. Pollution impacts and reduction, including eutrophication and plastics
  2. Sustainable management and ecosystem health
  3. Climate change and ocean acidification
  4. Fisheries and aquaculture management, economics and restoration
  5. Marine conservation and protected areas
  6. Increasing fundamental knowledge and understanding of marine biodiversity.
  7. Open Session


Abstract submission

When submitting an abstract you will be required to provide the following information:

  • Abstract title: a brief, interesting and explicit description of the presentation (<10 words)
  • Symposium names and/or themes for open programme (refer to lists above)
  • Name and email of corresponding author
  • Identification where the presentation will be by a student who wishes to be considered for any student prizes
  • Preferred presentation type (oral presentation, speed talk, poster)
  • Authors’ names (lead author is expected to present the material)
  • Authors’ affiliations
  • Abstract (max. length 200 words)
  • Acknowledgement that you will register and pay to attend the Conference should your abstract be presented


For further information please contact:

Event Services
The University of Auckland



WCMB 2020 Virtual Conference | 13-15 December 2020

Key Dates

Revised talks submitted to conference platform: 1 November 2020
E-posters submitted to conference platform: 22 November 2020
Early-bird Registration closes: 22 November 2020
Conference commences and abstracts and e-posters visible to participants(only): 14 December 2020
Presentations visible to participants until: 31 January 2021
Submissions to the WCMB (proceedings) Collection in PeerJ Life & Environment journal deadline: 31 March 2021


Supporting organisation

Supporting organisation