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SFS Annual Meeting


Dr. John Hartig

Navigating Boundaries in Building North America's Only International Wildlife Refuge

It is no small challenge to navigate boundaries and build an international wildlife refuge in a nearly seven million person urban area that also represents the automobile capitals of the United States and Canada (i.e., Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario). This plenary talk will share insights into how innovative public-private partnerships have navigated political, cultural, and disciplinary boundaries to build the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge as part of a strategy to make nature part of everyday urban life and help develop a conservation ethic. Today, 80% of all Americans and Canadians live in urban areas. Most urban residents are disconnected from the natural world. There is growing interest in re-connecting urban residents with nature. Compounding this problem is the fact that most conservationists avoid cities and want to work in pristine areas. Furthermore, when scientific assessments are made, most urban areas are found to be too degraded to rank high enough on conservation priority lists. This plenary talk will share experiences in bringing conservation to cities, fostering a conservation ethic in this major urban area, and inspiring and developing the next generation of conservationists in urban areas because that is now where most people on our planet live.

Dr. John Hartig is currently a Fulbright Scholar serving as the Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Global Governance at Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Ontario. The focus of his Fulbright is multi-disciplinary research on cleanup of the Great Lakes. For the past 14 years he served as Refuge Manager for the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. John has received a number of awards for his work, including the 2017 Community Peacemaker Award from Wayne State University's Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, the 2016 Edward G. Voss Conservation Science Award from Michigan Nature Association, the 2015 Conservationist of the Year Award from the John Muir Association, and the 2013 Conservation Advocate of the Year Award from the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. He has authored or co-authored over 100 publications on the environment, including four books: Bringing Conservation to Cities; Burning Rivers; Honoring Our Detroit River, Caring for Our Home; and Under RAPs: Toward Grassroots Ecological Democracy in the Great Lakes Basin. John's most recent book titled Bringing Conservation to Cities won a Gold Medal from the Nonfiction Authors Association in the "Sustainable Living" category and a bronze medal from the Living Now Book Awards in the "Green Living" category.

Dr. Rebecca Lave

Bridging the gap: Integrating critical social and physical science in the study of streams

Do we need to integrate physical and social science to understand what is happening at our field sites? I argue in this talk that the answer is unequivocally yes, and that there is already a strong and growing body of work that does so: critical physical geography. Individually or in teams, critical physical geographers are bridging the gap, combining insights from geomorphology, ecology, and biogeography with approaches from political ecology, science and technology studies, and environmental history. By way of illustration, I present the results of a study of stream mitigation banking in the US. Drawing on social science data from document analysis and interviews and natural science data from geomorphic fieldwork, I argue that while the fluvial landscape bears a surprisingly clear signature of both environmental policy and the development of ecosystem service markets in "stream credits," that signature is different than we would expect based on the economic incentives built into stream mitigation markets.

Rebecca Lave is an Associate Professor in Geography at Indiana University. She has published in journals ranging from Science to Social Studies of Science, and is the author of Fields and Streams (2012), a book about the political economy of stream restoration in the U.S. and the construction of environmental expertise. Her research, funded primarily by the National Science Foundation, combines social and physical science to address environmental markets, the Clean Water Act, and stream restoration. Lave is a co-founder of EDGI (the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative), an international network of academics and environmental professionals that advocates for evidence-based environmental policy and robust, democratic scientific data governance. She has won numerous teaching awards, including the Campus Catalyst Award for Excellence in Teaching Sustainability.

Dr. Ellen Wohl

River Corridor Science and Society

A river corridor includes the active channel(s), floodplain, and underlying hyporheic zone. Conceptualizing rivers as corridors emphasizes interactions among physical process and form and biotic communities, and among components of channel, floodplain, and hyporheic zone. A river corridor is created and maintained by fluxes that occur in a physical context. The physical context governs adjustment and results in a particular level of spatial heterogeneity, connectivity, resiliency, and ecological integrity. Recent research on North St. Vrain Creek, Colorado is used to illustrate how the framework of river corridor science facilitates understanding of differences in biomass among individual river segments. Ongoing research on how river process and form influence the partitioning of terrestrially derived organic carbon among gaseous emissions, storage in riverine sediment, and transport to the oceans is used to illustrate the implications of river corridor science at the global scale. Development of integrated numerical models that account for threshold behavior is important to improving the predictive ability of river corridor science. Conceptualizing rivers as corridors – or ecosystems – also facilitates understanding of human alterations of rivers through time and can be used to promote restoration of river fluxes and processes.

Ellen Wohl is a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geosciences at Colorado State University. She received a PhD in geosciences from the University of Arizona and has been on the CSU faculty since 1989. She is a fluvial geomorphologist and currently focuses on interactions between physical processes and biota as these influence form and function in river corridors. Much of her work has focused on mountain streams and rivers in bedrock canyons. She has conducted field work on every continent but Antarctica and authored or coauthored more than 200 scientific papers and 18 books. She is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America.

Dr. Pete McIntyre

Fish for thought: building awareness of the world's freshwater fisheries

Inland fisheries are one of the most obvious freshwater ecosystem services, yet have little weight in policy and management decisions at national to global scales. What is their status, and what human interests would be affected if the world's river and lake fisheries decline? Does conserving biodiversity help to maintain fishery productivity, and do fisheries pose to a major threat to aquatic biodiversity? Can our community invoke fisheries to more effectively advocate for protecting freshwater ecosystems? I will summarize a global perspective on these and related questions, weaving together food security, biodiversity, economic, and ecosystem viewpoints to argue that freshwater fisheries merit far greater emphasis in decisions about environmental management.

Pete is an Associate Professor in the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and studies freshwater fish and ecosystems around the world. His work combines intensive, place-based studies with large-scale data syntheses that often cross disciplinary divides. Though he lacks a formal background in fishery science, his interests in aquatic animals, ecosystem dynamics, and human livelihoods have drawn him to studying the ecology and sustainability of fisheries. He frequently collaborates with NGOs and agencies to develop projects that produce actionable findings at local to global scales.