S01: The environmental flow and water management nexus: implementation challenges, strategies, and outcomes of environmental flow programs
Integrating environmental flows in water management decision-making is critical to sustaining at-risk freshwater ecosystems. New modeling tools and regional frameworks for managing environmental water are emerging to address this need within distinct scientific, legal, social, and management contexts. The success of environmental flow programs is strongly dependent on our understanding of ecosystem processes and the development of scientifically defensible relationships between streamflow alteration and ecosystem response, how such understanding is expressed in modeling tools (e.g., decision-support tools, Bayesian network models etc.), and the manner in which environmental water needs are integrated in existing legal and management frameworks. This session will highlight successes and challenges associated with the implementation of environmental flow programs from around the world. Talks will give particular attention to modeling and technical approaches that advance scientific understanding of river functioning and to the development, implementation, and transferability of decision-support tools to guide management. The session will present models for interdisciplinary collaboration and stakeholder engagement during the implementation process, strategies for achieving long-term beneficial outcomes, and approaches for monitoring program effectiveness.
S02: Advancing knowledge on intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams: across disciplines and dimensions
Much the world's river networks are composed of intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams (IRES), which are becoming even more common due to global change. Research on IRES streams has grown exponentially during last decades. Although our knowledge on these ecosystems is still limited compared to perennial streams, research in recent years has shed new light on IRES geomorphology, hydrology, and ecology. We now know that IRES contribute substantially to catchment-scale biodiversity and biogeochemistry and provide important ecosystem services. Growing evidence indicates that IRES are ideal study systems to progress general geomorphological, hydrological, and ecological theory and to advance multi- and trans-disciplinary research. This session aims to showcase the latest research advances about the ecology of non-perennial streams, while highlighting the diverse and integrative approaches being applied, including field studies, mesocosms, lab studies, statistical modelling, social surveys, and theoretical approaches. This session will gather contributions from multiple disciplines across the four dimensions of river systems: 1) the longitudinal dimension, along which drying stresses the need to develop meta-ecosystem approaches to improve understanding of processes leading to flow cessation and drying and how communities and processes respond to this in a landscape perspective. 2) The lateral dimension, across which terrestrial and aquatic sciences meet, offering ideal arenas to develop trans-disciplinary research. 3) The vertical dimension, linking surface water and ground water science. And 4) the temporal dimension, intimately linked to the high dynamism of IRES in the short-term and the effect of global change in the long-term. Additionally, this session will highlight trans-disciplinary research and studies that integrate, sociology, economy, education, public policy, and humanities. This session will promote a bigger and more inclusive picture of IRES that will provide a better understanding of these complex ecosystems, which should be the base for actionable management outcomes.
S03: To learn your water, study your soils: the role of soil health in freshwaters
Freshwater science has a deep history of studying terrestrial-aquatic linkages, yet there remains room for improving connections between soil science and freshwater ecology that are crucial for a holistic perspective of freshwater structure and function. Soils contain a notable reservoir of water and have the capacity to modify discharge, water chemistry, and microorganism loads: a capacity that is prone to human modification. For example, two catchments classified as agricultural can have drastically different effects on stream nutrient concentrations depending in part on how their soils have been managed over time. Thus, soils can both alter the nature of inputs to freshwaters as well as how those inputs are processed in the recipient water bodies. Under the conference theme of translational ecology, we seek to use this session for highlighting studies that partner soil and freshwater research. These collaborative perspectives are critical to merge a macroscopic view of landcover directly with the active sites in soil porewater to better understand downstream consequences. Further, we have an enhanced opportunity to merge soil health with freshwater quality as the United States Department of Agriculture is currently recommending standard soil health indicators. We particularly welcome studies that bridge macro- and microscopic scales, study freshwater in the soil matrix, and evaluate the transport and fate of biological, chemical, and/or physical inputs from land to aquatic environments. With these discussions, participants can advance both conceptual and practical aspects to studying and managing terrestrial-aquatic linkages.
S04: Novel stressors and novel ecosystems: Ecological processes in freshwaters of the built environment
Although urban ecology is a relatively young field compared to other subdisciplines, urban streams have been widely studied and much of this work has been led by SFS members and published in Freshwater Science. One emerging area of interest in urban ecology is the impact of multiple interacting physical, chemical, and biological stressors that occur in freshwater ecosystems of the built environment. For example, urban streams below a wastewater treatment plant commonly experience chronic input of nutrients and a suite of synthetic chemicals (e.g., pharmaceuticals, plastics, nanoparticles), along with increased hydrological flashiness associated with urban watersheds. While there is still much to be learned about ecological processes in urban streams, there are also a wide variety of other freshwater ecosystems within urban settings that have received less attention, particularly from an ecological perspective. For example, new urban development often requires the installation of stormwater control measures that are permanently (i.e., stormwater wet ponds) or intermittently (i.e., bioretention cells, or rain gardens) aquatic. Furthermore, landscape changes in urban environments can create 'accidental' aquatic ecosystems, such as wetlands. These novel ecosystems experience similar stressors to urban streams, but have received substantially less attention. Our goal for this session is to highlight these novel ecosystems as well as the novel interactions of multiple stressors commonly found in urban environments. We welcome presentations from all urban freshwater ecosystem types (including urban streams) but are especially interested in projects working beyond the channel.
S05: Accidental ecosystems: Physical, chemical, biological, and social processes
Accidental ecosystems are unintentional ecosystem state shifts resulting as a byproduct of intentional land use and water infrastructure decisions made by private and governmental land managers. Despite being the product of management decisions, accidental systems are often unmanaged, yet are capable of influencing ecosystem function and services. For example, accidental urban wetlands resulting from municipal storm drainage outfalls can provide ecosystem services in the form of plant and microbial nitrate attenuation and summer heat relief for persons experiencing homelessness. Considering the magnitude of human landscape modification, resulting accidental ecosystems have the potential to substantially influence broader ecosystem function and human well-being. However, research in accidental systems is limited. Thus, it is necessary to identify accidental systems, their causes, and how they influence ecosystem function, services, and disservices. In this special session, we invite speakers from a variety of institutions, including non-profits, government agencies, and research universities to explore the varieties, causes and consequences of accidental systems including hydrology, biogeochemistry, biotic communities, and effects on human well-being. We aim to connect basic research and management to broaden our understanding of how to our decisions and actions contribute to the formation and function of accidental systems to inform management decisions.
S06: The River Continuum Concept: Perspectives for the future in translational stream ecology
The River Continuum Concept (RCC), developed by Vannote et al. in 1980, is widely recognized as a milestone in stream ecology because it introduced a comprehensive evaluation of the structure and functioning of lotic ecosystems, which is still applied worldwide. Since its formulation the RCC has been used as a conceptual framework and directly or indirectly has contributed to the development of related theories and concepts in the last decades. Geo-morphological conditions and energetic inputs (organic matter and primary production) represent the core of this theory, stressing the importance of certain ecological foundations, such as the habitat constraints and trophic relationships. Moreover, the use of functional feeding groups (FFGs) anticipated the traits-based approach for community analysis. The RCC represents a cornerstone in translational stream ecology, through many applications such as biomonitoring, metaecosystem modeling and conservation of biodiversity in the face of multiple, interacting impacts. Our goal is to reflect on the importance of this unifying concept in our field to shaping our current research and outreach innovations. We hope to bring together scientists from all career levels that represent a variety of work in different study systems from a diversity of institutions and backgrounds. An invited Ecography review manuscript on 40 years of the RCC that is coauthored by the organizers inspires this special session.
S07: What makes the fever rise: investigations of variables responsible for riverine algal blooms
Algal blooms occurring in riverine systems have been far less studied than those in lacustrine environs. Algal blooms themselves pose potentially significant threats to water quality, biodiversity, and ecosystem function, as well as public perception of recreational use and safety. Perhaps more importantly, algal blooms are a symptom of subtle and often over- looked chemical, physical, and/or climatic ailments that, under the right (or wrong) combinations, can flip the "bloom switch". Understanding the individual and interacting roles of nutrients, hydrology, and climate are essential for riverine remediation. Data from the national or international spatial scale will provide insight into what is often a combination of subtle chemical and physical changes responsible for the flip of the "bloom switch" in flowing waters.
S08: Advancing thermal restoration of Rivers and Streams
Aquatic organisms are adapted often to local thermal regimes, and temperature modifications
can have consequences for ecological processes, species distribution and community
composition, as well as ecosystem services. Therefore, water temperature is a crucial
variable when assessing overall aquatic ecosystem health.
Water temperature regimes are governed by climatological and hydrological divers. 'Natural'
processes governing water temperatures regimes are often influenced by anthropogenic
factors such as climate changes and human modifications (deforestation, dams, heated
effluent, urbanization etc.). This results in modified thermal regimes, with warmer
temperatures being observed globally under climate warming. In his context, it is more
important than ever to devise effective restoration plans that address the current thermal
degradation and to avoid detrimental impacts (and additive pressures) due to rising water
temperature as our planet warms.
In current restoration practices, specific thermal drivers linked to human-made impacts are often neglected. Moreover, addressing thermal degradation is rarely as simple as reducing the amount of radiation to the stream surface by the provision of riparian shading. There is a pressing need for scientific evidence to guide restoration practices and improve our understanding of the influence of human-made structures on thermal regimes. This session invites contributions that explore different aspects of thermal restoration projects in relation to changes in land use and water management practices to (1) address the pitfalls that are sometimes overlooked in restoration, and (2) provide the science-based evidence to achieve guide thermal restoration to maximize restoration benefits for ecosystems and people.
S09: Freshwater Salinization: Science for Solutions
Salinization is a global threat to freshwater ecosystems and water resources. Driven by
human activities such as irrigation agriculture, urban infrastructure, resource extraction,
and use of de-icing chemicals, salinization presents unique challenges for water quality
managers the world over. Ecological impacts of salinization include loss of suitable
aquatic habitats and aquatic species, and alteration of aquatic ecosystem functions, all
of which can impact ecosystem services.
Until recently, information about the the salt forms, sources, and resulting changes in water quality and aquatic ecosystem responses has been limited. In fact, only two countries in the world set ion-specific standards and those are only for chloride. Globally, aquatic species loss in regions with increases in frequency and extent of salinization have spurred much research in recent years that can be used to develop progressive management strategies that are more protective of aquatic life. Translating that ecological knowledge into practice is a crucial step toward effective mitigation and remediation of salinization impacts.
Our session welcomes research on freshwater salinization that has achieved, or has potential for, translation into science-based solutions. We hope this session will bring together scientists, regulators, and water resource managers to share the state of the science, identify solutions, highlight successes, and uncover opportunities for collaboration and further research with the goal of improved management of freshwater ecosystems.
S10: Biogeomorphic agents: Role of organisms in propagating change in fluvial ecosystems
The geomorphology, hydrology, and ecology of rivers are shaped by a complicated suite of biophysical interactions that influence productivity, habitat formation, and ecosystem function. This session explores advances in stream science that quantitatively link physical processes and biological communities in riparian and aquatic habitats. We are particularly interested in novel ecosystem engineering case studies, research that integrates effects of multiple, coexisting ecosystem engineers, or investigation of ecosystem engineering across space or time to evaluate broader principles related to the role of animals and plants in structuring stream channel development and ecological structure and function. Applied topics may also include changes in community composition, behaviors, and abundances of biotic agents in the face of climate and land use change. We seek contributions related to this broad theme, as well as presentations describing the use and challenges of field, laboratory, or modeling exercises that explore the impacts of animal and plant ecosystem engineers on geomorphology and hydrology.
S11: The good, the bad, and the ugly news about acidification in the 21st Century
The good news about acid rain and acidification in the 21 st century is partly offset by changes in other stressors which also affect atmospheric and watershed processes, the chemistry of soils and surface water, and the health of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The sometimes-divergent, and other times-parallel trends in sulfur and nitrogen emissions, acidic deposition, and N and S processes in watersheds interact across typical study-discipline boundaries to generate recent declines in lake acidity, limited changes in stream chemistry, and biological recovery (or lack of recovery) in some systems. Changes in temperature, precipitation and discharge regimes, atmospheric CO 2 levels, carbon dissolution, and acidity provide mostly good news for some freshwater ecosystems, but potentially bad news about the potential for full recovery in these systems, and increasingly ugly news about the impacts of ocean acidification. Since the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendment was implemented, we have gained more in-depth knowledge of the essential pathways and linkages that translate constituents (or their effects) between atmospheric, terrestrial (forest and soils), and surface water (stream and lake) systems. This session provides an opportunity for researchers to disseminate results of recent efforts to better define the chemical and biological processes and interactions across discipline boundaries, their effects on acidification, new regulatory efforts meant to better protect and promote chemical and biological recovery from acidification, and both the positive and negative impacts that changes in levels of acid deposition and other climatic stressors may be causing in aquatic ecosystems of North America and worldwide.
S12: Climate change in high-gradient mountain streams
Mountain streams are characterized by steep environmental gradients in the longitudinal dimension, but they also represent habitat mosaics at both finer (e.g. reach) and broader (e.g. whole network) spatial scales. The habitat mosaic in high mountain streams is maintained by a combination of hydrological source heterogeneity among headwaters, complex valley geomorphology, and the influence of lakes and groundwater aquifers on instream conditions. Most discussion of climate change in mountain streams thus far has emphasized the longitudinal/elevational gradient and the hypothesis that coldest- associated taxa and ecological processes will succumb to "summit traps" as environmental gradients associated with increasing water temperature shift predictably upstream. However, the environmental mosaic inherent to high-mountain stream networks suggests the possibility for climate-change refugia in habitat patches that may be locally resistant to regional-scale change. Participants in this session will consider the implications of rapid global change on environmental conditions, taxonomic assemblages (including animals, algae, and prokaryotes), and ecosystem processes in high-gradient mountain stream networks, with an aim towards disentangling the effects of the steep longitudinal gradient and the complex mosaic of local habitat conditions. We aim for a mix of multidisciplinary viewpoints, including hydrology, biogeochemistry, and organismal biology, and representation from high-gradient mountain streams around the globe.
S13: The Times they are a Changing - Linking Organismal Phenology and Metabolic Regimes in River Ecosystems
This session brings together aquatic scientists interested in understanding how the phenology - the recurring seasonal pattern of biological events - of both ecosystems and organisms are being altered in the Anthropocene. We have long known that light, thermal and hydrologic regimes shape the structure of river food webs by altering organism abundance, biomass, functional diversity and trophic relationships. These physical regimes also constrain stream ecosystem metabolism and are thus propagated to consumers through their impacts on the magnitude, timing and form of energy supply. At times these indirect effects on energy supply may outweigh, counterbalance or reverse the direct effects of physical controls on aquatic organisms and their interactions. Conversely, seasonal changes in organism population dynamics can exert influences on the fluxes of nutrients and energy in ecosystems. Recent advancements to measure and model metabolic regimes at the same fine temporal resolution as hydrologic, light and thermal regimes are providing new insights into the phenological patterns of river productivity and heterotrophy. This represents a new opportunity to determine when and where the direct effects of energetic limitation may exert strong control on consumer populations and their interactions. We propose a slate of speakers to showcase developing theory, data and models in this exciting new area of research at the interface between ecosystem energetics and consumer ecology. Our goal is to daylight new opportunities to understand and predict the impacts of global change on river ecosystem functions and ecological communities through an enhanced appreciation of linked organismal-ecosystem phenology.
S14: Heterotrophic Regimes in Rivers: Technical and conceptual advances
Primary productivity and respiration represent the flux of energy through aquatic ecosystems and are therefore important indicators of ecosystem function. Recent widespread availability of continuous dissolved oxygen time series combined with modeling advances are improving our understanding of ecosystem energetics in streams and rivers. However, compared to gross primary production (GPP), our technical and conceptual understanding of ecosystem respiration (ER) in rivers has lagged behind. Current limitations to our understanding of ER can be attributed to its unique observational, computational, and conceptual challenges that remain at the forefront of aquatic ecosystem research. For example, the decoupling of aquatic respiration and primary productivity in many rivers reflects the importance of understanding the timing, magnitude, and bioavailability of diverse organic matter inputs to rivers. The goal of this session is to advance our mechanistic understanding of heterotrophic regimes within and among rivers. We therefore invite contributions that explore the relative importance of different sources and drivers of ER, including studies that link continuous respiration estimates to organic matter input dynamics or in-stream CO2 concentrations, as well as contributions which explore methodological improvements to ER estimation, the relative importance of low-oxygen conditions and anaerobic metabolism to ER, or the effects of dynamic temperature and flow regimes on respiration. Ultimately, this session aims to integrate recent technical advances in our understanding of ER with novel conceptual ideas that allow for distinguishing aquatic heterotrophic regimes and predicting their response to ongoing environmental change.
S15: Towards a predictive understanding of metacommunity dynamics in freshwater ecosystems
The metacommunity concept has gained traction among freshwater ecologists over the last decade. Environmental variation, habitat connectivity, and organismal traits often influence the temporal fluctuations that organisms exhibit across the landscape, and thus biodiversity patterns. Meta-population studies have shown that asynchrony in these fluctuations increase stability in ecological portfolios, as populations that are thriving can compensate for—and rescue—those that are declining. However, scaling these results to metacommunities is still precursory. This hinders a predictive understanding of where, and when, freshwater biodiversity may be insured against environmental fluctuations and shocks. Here we call for research that uses observational, experimental, and/or quantitative approaches to understand the dynamics of metacommunites in stream and lake networks. We welcome research that focuses on the effects of environmental variation and habitat connectivity, while accounting for the influences of organismal dispersal abilities, and local biotic interactions. We are particularly interested in studies that cross spatial and temporal scales, and address questions such as the stabilizing effects of small-scale spatial heterogenity, and the destabilizing effects of large-scale, spatially-correlated environmental fluctuations (Moran effect). We also welcome research using the metacommunity concept to inform conservation planning, either focusing on species triage, biomontioring, or reserve design. Hydroclimatic change, habitat fragmentation, and biotic homogenization are emerging facets of global change that have largely been studied in isolation. A better understanding of how these forces interact and influence the dynamics of freshwater metacommunities will increase our ability to anticipate, and potentially curb, the impacts of near-term environmental change on freshwater biodiversity.
S16: Energy-flow food webs: new perspectives, common ground, and knowledge gaps
Trophic interactions are critical for shaping both the structure and function of biological communities; thus, food webs have emerged as a central organizing theme in ecological research. While many approaches exist for examining food web interactions, the production based quantification of energy flow between consumers and resources provides an under-utilized framework that can unite community ecology, which is focused largely on biodiversity, and ecosystem ecology, which is focused on the storage and transfers of energy and materials. With deep roots in the Society for Freshwater Science, the energy-flow food web approach (sensu Benke and Wallace 1997) has provided important contributions to both general ecological theory (e.g., diversity-stability relationships) and applied considerations of river ecosystems (e.g., food web responses to river regulation and invasive species). Given the growing interest in their use, a synthetic and critical view of energy-flow food webs is much needed to assess the progress, assumptions, and applications of this framework. This session will bring together seminal and emerging viewpoints, from a variety of career stages, in order to highlight new perspectives, generate opportunities for building on common ground, and identify current knowledge gaps and shortcomings in this field. Ultimately, this session will contribute to a more cohesive view of the role of energy-flow food webs in understanding, managing, and conserving freshwater resources, and will provide a useful road map for novel investigation in the future.
S17: Bridging the lotic-microbial gap: understanding drivers of microbial diversity in stream ecosystems
Freshwater microbial communities are essential for maintaining ecosystem function and
health. Similar to other natural environments, stream microbial communities are hyper-
diverse and vary along environmental and temporal gradients. Such environment-
diversity relationships are dependent on a suite of abiotic and biotic factors; yet
microbe-microbe interactions may be particularly strong in streams due to the
connected nature of lotic ecosystems. Microbial communities drive energy flow and
process rates, which is of particular importance in freshwaters; freshwater ecosystems
provide critical ecosystem services and are severely threatened worldwide, therefore
understanding these diversity-function relationships are essential. Identifying microbial
community diversity in stream habitats has been relatively lacking within the freshwater
science community; it is critical for us to adopt a broader knowledge base in molecular
microbial ecology to aid in understanding how freshwaters respond to global change. A
goal for this session is to bring together a diverse group of scientists to discuss current
and ongoing aquatic microbial research across geographic regions and provide a
direction for future syntheses in freshwater ecology.
This session will present research topics related to understanding how freshwater microbial diversity varies over spatiotemporal gradients and in response to anthropogenic change. Basic and applied scientific perspectives are welcome and encouraged! We also encourage contributions based on (i) molecular approaches (or a combination of molecular and traditional) to answer questions related to microbial community and functional ecology, (ii) biodiversity-function linkages (iii) theoretical and statistical approaches to understanding community dynamics.
S18: Conservation and management of crayfish in western North America
Western North America is home to relatively few native crayfish species, yet these organisms remain in near complete obscurity with respect to management and conservation actions. For example, one native western crayfish species has been declared extinct, a second is listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, two are almost entirely unstudied, and one is a major invasive species in both western North America and globally. Further, a number of non-native crayfish species introduced from eastern North America to western North America are manifesting impacts as invasive species, including displacement of native crayfishes. What is the fate of native crayfish in this region, and what conservation challenges lie ahead? Will invasive crayfish continue to spread unabated, and how can the resulting ecological impacts be prevented or minimized? Our special session seeks to address these and many other questions by bringing together researchers, managers, and policy makers concerned with native and non-native crayfish in western North America. Presentations will include work on the distribution, ecology, and evolution of native and non-native crayfish, and prospects for management and conservation in the future. Our expected audience is both academic and agency researchers, as well as land managers and policy makers interested in knowing more about native and non-native crayfish management in western North America.
S19: The Alliance for Freshwater Life - fostering multidisciplinary freshwater research on local to global scales
Global pressures on freshwater ecosystems are high and rising. Viewed primarily as a resource for humans, current land use and water management practice have led to catastrophic declines in freshwater species and the degradation of freshwater ecosystems, including their genetic and functional diversity. Scientific research is essential to inform good decision making and for establishing the socio-economic context for sustainable water management. To reach these aims, an improved understanding of all facets of freshwater biodiversity is required. Knowledge gaps are particularly pertinent about the distribution and status of freshwater biodiversity across spatial and temporal scales, how freshwater biodiversity could be better integrated into the landscapes of the Anthropocene, and which data and knowledge are needed to balance human needs with sustaining biodiversity. We aim at a synthesis of current research in the field and invite contributions from multidisciplinary freshwater research networks worldwide. Potential topics of interest include, but are not limited to: (1) the identification of poorly known areas of potentially high freshwater biodiversity, (2) the development of a global classification of freshwater ecosystems, (3) understanding the extent and drivers of the decline in freshwater biodiversity, and solutions to reverse this trend, or (4) how to collate, harmonize, analyze, and synthesize data on freshwater biodiversity. We also invite papers about global outreach and novel communication tools that foster preservation of freshwater biodiversity.
S20: Neglected African freshwater bodies: lessons on sustainable management and conservation of freshwater ecosystems
Even though Africa has some of the largest rivers and lakes in the world, and the conditions of water resources deteriorating at an alarming rate due to human-induced modifications, freshwater ecosystems on the continent are poorly studied compared to those in the northern hemisphere. However, there are a number of freshwater studies in Africa that are being led by African scientists to fill the knowledge gap. The objective of this session is to offer a platform for presentation by the African researchers to showcase research work related to the ecology, limnology, institutional and social-ecology of African freshwater resources. The intended outcomes are that lessons learned from African freshwater research in relation to transdisciplinarity, translational ecology, policy and practice as well as conservation and sustainable management of freshwater resources are shared with the international community. Speakers are to be selected from the different regions of Africa, giving consideration to gender, career stage and diversity of topics.
S21: Beyond Bioassessment: Translating Biological Information for Environmental Problem Solving
Biological data are an integral part of freshwater ecosystem management, but their potential benefit extend far beyond calculation of indices for condition assessment. Due to their ability to reflect the impacts of multiple environmental factors, integrating across both time and space, organisms provide a wealth of information about aquatic ecosystems, yet the benefits of taxonomic information to managing these systems remain largely untapped. Freshwater scientists have been at the forefront of applying biological data to a myriad of management applications, including: climate monitoring, jurisdictional determinations, causal assessment, water chemical or flow criteria development, conservation planning, and setting achievable expectations for modified landscapes. This metamorphosis from primary indicator to multifaceted application tool has come as both aquatic scientists and decision-makers, working in collaboration, have recognized the potential utility of biological information far beyond assessments. In this session, we highlight the multifaceted ways we are moving beyond bioassessment and translating biological information to solve a variety of pressing environmental decision-making needs. Our goal is to challenge the research and management community to take full advantage of the promise of bioassessment.
S22: What do managers/regulators need to know from science to support protection/restoration/adaptation decisions?
Resource managers and regulators have long been challenged with translating science into information that can support decision making. Being faced with practical decisions on, for example, where, when, and how to do protection, restoration, and/or adaptation projects, they have had to select outputs from a potentially wide range of environmental sciences to inform and justify regulatory decisions or restoration priorities and approaches. There is now the further challenge of needing to consider how future projections of changing environmental and baseline conditions impact such decisions. Thus, technical information is often now needed at multiple temporal and spatial scales. There has been useful work in the development of vulnerability or resilience assessment frameworks, and adaptation design or other decision support tools. But in the current changing regulatory environment, the effective use and refinement of such frameworks and tool would be advanced by rigorous consideration of what types of scientific/technical information are crucial to making sound management decisions. We are proposing this session to examine this issue from the management/regulatory viewpoint.
S23: Enhance your work through incorporation of public engagement
Public engagement does not have to be an additional item on one's to-do list, but instead is an opportunity to advance research, impact society and the environment, influence policy, and train the next generation of scientists. Public engagement includes intentional, meaningful interactions that provide opportunities for mutual learning between scientists and members of the public - think moving beyond #scicomm or science communication and towards #sciconv or science conversation. With the current magnitude of threats to our freshwater systems, the time to grow public engagement through feasible activities with lasting impacts is ideal! This session aims to empower freshwater scientists by providing multiple examples of how public engagement can be incorporated into existing research and teaching responsibilities. Translational Ecology principles including interdisciplinary collaboration, multi-directional engagement, long-term commitment, iterative communication, transparent and representative processes provide the support structure for a variety of public engagement activities. Session attendees can expect to hear examples of public engagement in action, which could include co-production of knowledge, educational endeavors, and public-facing science communication efforts. Incorporation of public engagement into existing work and obligations is a rewarding way to become a more impactful scientist and community member.
S24: Supporting freshwater policy and decision making in the modern/digital age
A central goal of many SFS scientists is to provide information that aids in better freshwater management, restoration and conservation decisions. We live in an increasingly data and stakeholder-rich world that requires developing tools to effectively communicate complicated information to diverse audiences. We intend this session to highlight innovative "decision- support" tools such as novel applications of ecological theory in management, interactive databases or applications, data visualization tools, or uses of social media. We are especially interested in understanding how and whether these tools have been used by stakeholders and "lessons-learned" in their development and application.
S25: Biocultural Approaches in Freshwater Conservation
Biocultural approaches to conservation examine and build on place-based cultural perspectives and identify feedbacks between social and ecological, assuming an inextricable link between biological and cultural diversity. Presently, biocultural approaches have been applied most often to terrestrial landscapes, in rural areas, and with indigenous communities. In this special session, we examine the applicability of the biocultural approach to riverine ecosystems, in both rural and urban settings. We provide examples of implementation of biocultural methods in freshwater resource management and conservation strategies, focusing on local cultural perspectives and the feedbacks between ecosystem and local wellbeing. The main objectives of this proposed session are to:
- explore the richness of human-river interactions;
- identify hidden cultural strengths and assets that can be put to work for conservation of river ecosystems;
- showcase integration of natural and social sciences for improved river conservation outcomes; and
- compare examples of biocultural conservation approaches from distinct river geographies.
S26: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Freshwater Science
Today's students will be tomorrow's decision and policymakers. Therefore, informing and engaging students from all disciplines in the field of freshwater sciences is essential, especially considering the rate, magnitude, and impacts of current environmental changes. This is particularly important considering the range of public awareness and acceptance to current environmental issues. We propose a special session focused on pedagogy, research, and assessment of teaching and learning in the freshwater sciences. The goal of this session is to support educators in improving STEM instruction by promoting the adoption of best practices of teaching and learning in our field. This special session will support our Society's mission of promoting further understanding of freshwater ecosystems and fostering the exchange of scientific information among the membership, especially educators. We encourage session contributors to share specific STEM teaching practices, techniques, goals, modules, and experiences. Pedagogical techniques related to all areas of biology that could be applied to the freshwater science classroom are welcome to participate in the session. We also encourage participants to contribute inquiry-based activities and resources used in the classroom/lab to build and enhance educational materials offered to our membership. Ultimately, we hope that the information shared in this session will help educators to better engage students, creating better scientists, active advocates for environmental issues, and better-informed decision and policymakers.
S27: Novel Tools for Scoping and Problem Formulation to the Further Translational Science
The development of environmental assessments is a complex process, integrating and synthesizing
scientific information, from multiple sources across disciplines and scales, to directly inform a decision.
The initial phases involve scoping and problem formulation with stakeholders. While much of the focus
of translational science has been on the conveyance of information to stakeholders and decision makers
at the end of the process, translational science also has critical inputs at the beginning. Successful
uptake of the information and integration into environmental decisions is predicated on close
involvement of stakeholders during scoping to clarify needs and formulate expectations. While much of
this process consists of discussions, certain tools can help focus scoping and problem formulation in a
transparent manner. The health sciences have developed such tools more quickly than environmental
sciences, though their application in ecology is gaining momentum.
This session will explore lessons learned from early stakeholder engagement that incorporates translational science and will highlight novel applications of tools throughout this process. Tools such as conceptual models to frame and refine questions similar to PECO (Population, Exposure, Comparator, Outcome) statements in human health systematic reviews can focus stakeholder discussions. Similarly, systematic maps of the literature can elucidate critical gaps. Current software tools are geared towards the human health literature, though categorization of the broader ecological literature could easily be accomplished. These tools can further scoping and problem formulation by integrating scientific information at the outset of an assessment and leading stakeholders through a transparent process.
S28: Strengthening Interdisciplinary Approaches in Freshwater Science
Freshwater systems are shaped and impacted by both environmental and societal factors. Trying to understand one side without exploring the other can only lead to partial explanations of a system and obscure potential actionable outcomes from research. So why do we, as freshwater scientists, so often underserve, or outright ignore, the societal side of the equation in our research? Interdisciplinary approaches, such as critical physical geography, land cover science, and socio- environmental systems studies, already bridge the natural and social sciences. This session will explore what these interdisciplinary approaches look like in practice, and how they are being implemented in freshwater science by physical and social scientists.
S29: Advancing Freshwater Science: A Discussion with the National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation (NSF) provides many opportunities for funding basic research and training in ecology and related disciplines. The Foundation supports researchers at all career stages, including undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students and early career faculty. The purposes of this session are to inform our communities about current funding opportunities at NSF and to receive comments and suggestions on how the Foundation can best serve the discipline. NSF representatives will include program officers from programs broadly relevant to ecology and environmental research. Topics that will be covered include basic research proposals and the review process, new and continuing special competitions, cross-cutting programs, alternative funding mechanisms, and network and observatory infrastructure support. Following a brief presentation, much of the session will be town-hall style Q&A. Audience members are encouraged to bring questions, especially students and early career members.