ASLO Plenaries on YouTube
Plenary presentations have been recorded during most of ASLO's meetings since 2011. To view the presentation on YouTube, click on the presentation image. A new window or tab will open.
Sheldon Whitehouse plays a key role in crafting policies addressing environmental protection and climate change. In 2011, he joined with Democrats and Republicans to form the Senate Oceans Caucus to increase awareness of and find common ground on issues facing the oceans and coasts. The Caucus helped gain Senate approval of four international fisheries treaties and passage of the IUU Fishing Enforcement Act that will prevent illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. Whitehouse has worked to boost federal support for fisheries science and cooperative fisheries research as well as efforts to improve transparency and efficiency in the commercial and recreational fisheries management process.
Senator Whitehouse has long advocated for a dedicated fund to support ocean and coastal research, restoration, and conservation. In 2015, the National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund was created to provide grants that support work for the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. It received funding for the first time as part of the FY2018 spending bill. He also led the successful bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuaries Program to protect and study coastal habitats. Whitehouse was a lead sponsor of the Save Our Seas Act, a bipartisan bill driven by the Caucus’s leadership to reauthorize NOAA’s marine debris program and strengthen the U.S.’s role in combatting the global marine debris crisis. The SOS Act became law in October.
A graduate of Yale University and the University of Virginia School of Law, Whitehouse served as United States Attorney and Attorney General of Rhode Island before being elected to the Senate in 2006. In addition to EPW, he is a member of the Budget Committee; the Judiciary Committee; and the Finance Committee. He and his wife Sandra, a marine biologist and environmental advocate, live in Newport, Rhode Island.
With an academic background in atmospheric chemistry and two decades of private sector experience in marketing and branding, Chris is strong proponent of using traditional marketing techniques to better understand public attitudes about science and its intersection with society. Through ScienceCounts, he is working to foster stronger connections between the scientific community and the general public. Previously, Chris was the president and co-founder of Prismatic Laser Programs LLC, the nation’s leading provider of STEM-based assembly programs to elementary and middle schools. In his free time, Volpe is a demonstration pilot of various types of historically significant WW2 aircraft. Chris received his PhD from Scripps Institution of Oceanography
He also is Co-Incident Commander of Hurricane Maria’s Sunken Vessel and Marine Debris Removal (DNER-USCG) Program and is the lead for coral reefs, beaches and dunes restoration and recovery efforts (DNER-FEMA). Díaz also is the current coordinator of the Puerto Rico Climate Change Council. He has served in various capacities within the DNER since 1995 and before that was Coordinator of Integrated Planning and Institutional Development under the United Nations Environment Program Regional Co-ordinating Unit in Kingston, Jamaica. Díaz is a prolific author and co-author on a number of papers and reports. He has formal training in many areas ranging from remote sensing, to strategic planning to climate change adaptation to national disaster preparedness. He holds degrees in oceanography, coastal and marine biology, engineering management, and has completed post-graduate studies in energy and environment.
A University of Puerto Rico graduate with more than 30 years of experience in mass media, María Falcón has distinguished herself as a journalist, producer and director of educational TV programs and documentaries focused on nature, environment and cultural topics. She is most known for her work in GeoAmbiente.
Her credits contain hundreds of titles that have resulted in countless recognitions: (10) Emmy Suncoast Awards, the Conservation Filmmaker of the Year Award [Filmmakers for Conservation - Bristol, UK 2008], (3) Excellence in Ecological Journalism Awards [Overseas Press Club], the Accolade Award [California], the Environmental Hero Award [National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration - US 2005], the Centennial Award [US Forest Service - 2005], (2) Excellence Awards [Environmental Protection Agency], as well as other achievements at festivals in England, Brazil, Spain, Portugal and the United States. In addition, the Universidad Metropolitana (AGMUS) awarded Falcón an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Sciences - Environmental Management in 2017.
Currently, she is a member of the Puerto Rico Climate Change Council, the Sea Grant Program UPR - Advisory Council, the El Yunque Management Plan Review Committee and the international organization Filmmakers for Conservation. Also, as part of her commitment to the conservation of our natural resources and the environmental health, she offers talks and workshops to students of our local schools and universities.
One pressing challenge that we face is to understand and conserve Earth’s natural ability to cope with change. In this context, Dr. Moore will discuss recent findings from his collaborative research program on the resilience of large salmon watersheds of western Canada. Rivers and their migratory fishes connect headwaters with the ocean. He presents emerging evidence that this river connectivity means that these systems act as natural portfolios that stabilize important processes, from hydrology to fisheries catches. However, these connections also mean that environmental risks can spread up and down river systems. At the controversial nexus of indigenous rights, industrial development, and environmental risk assessment, he will discuss our collaborative research on the estuary of one of the worlds’ great salmon watersheds faced with fossil fuel development. His research revealed the need to align the scale of environmental decision making with the true spatial scale of potential environmental risk. These activities in partnership with First Nations fisheries programs have strengthened his belief in the need and opportunity for the scientific process to better integrate with diverse cultures. Most broadly, there is a need to understand processes of resilience, quantify their limits, and translate this emerging scientific understanding into conservation and management action.
Scientific investigations conducted at different spatial and temporal scales can be complementary. To maximize this potential, we in the scientific community collectively have to work to find connections among approaches, data, and conclusions resulting from studies conducted at different scales. The effort to identify connections includes noting the strengths of different projects and recognizing how this information can be leveraged to develop a more complete understanding. In this presentation Dr. Pollard will discuss three examples that demonstrate how broad, population-scale information can be leveraged to better understand relative condition and change in lakes. She will provide an overview of the U.S. National Lakes Assessment (NLA) project. The NLA is a collaborative, coordinated partnership project among States, Tribes, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designed to provide national and regional-scale statistics describing select biological, chemical, physical, human use, and watershed characteristics in lakes. Multiple researchers from state and federal agencies as well as universities have used NLA data from just a few sites to the full national set to test hypotheses about lake ecology and management, but there are also opportunities to consider the perspective that population-level information can bring to aquatic sciences. The first example leverages national-scale data to examine temporal change in nutrient concentration. In conjunction with comparable national streams data, information from NLA has been used to show population-level changes in total phosphorus concentration across the U.S. A second example highlights how population information from different spatial scales can be leveraged to better understand relative condition of lake shoreline habitat. Finally, by connecting an individual lake to the NLA inferences, she will highlight an approach for using population information to provide context for local data. These examples demonstrate how population-scale lake data generated by NLA can be leveraged to inform hypothesis generation, strengthen the case for management activity, and understand phenomenon occurring at local scales in the context of large-scale patterns.
From molecular to planetary scales, water exposes its intrinsic properties through its capacity to connect. At the molecular scale, connections formed by hydrogen bonds create surface tension. At the planetary scale, freshwater overconsumption connects societies as they cross sustainable boundaries – creating surface tension of global proportions. This talk will explore how the connecting power of water may be harnessed to resolve conflicts by catalyzing societal change. Examples will be provided from South Florida, where decades of freshwater mis-management are interacting with accelerating sea level rise to threaten more assets than any other coastal city in the world. Delays in restoration have magnified saltwater intrusion into the Everglades, altering vertical and lateral hydrologic connections and leading to abrupt changes in the distinctive features and functions of this International Biosphere Preserve. These losses and their reinforcing feedbacks threaten an aquifer that supports 9 million people with freshwater, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, recreational fisheries, and other ecosystem properties and services, diminishing the region’s economic vitality. By coupling long-term research findings with mechanistic experiments and models, scientists from academia, agencies, and municipalities are uniting around solutions for reversing or at least decelerating these changes. Independent evaluators, including scientists serving the National Academy of Sciences, are being regarded as critical ‘restoration brokers’ for their insightful contributions to science-backed conflict resolution. After perilous delays, freshwater restoration is now underway with improved public recognition and support stemming from novel approaches to civic engagement. The restoration process also exhibits a more nimble and adaptive approach by freshwater managers – an attribute that has never been more important as multiple drivers interact to change ecosystems in unpredictable ways. As communities unite around Everglades restoration, scientists are engaging in international collaborations to transfer knowledge to secure a better fate for other expansive freshwater wetlands, and their dependent communities. By enhancing social cohesion, the properties of water may resolve tensions stimulated by resource limitation by generating creative solutions for sustainable sharing.
Welcome to beautiful British Columbia. Glaciers to rivers, lakes, wetlands to coasts and oceans—British Columbia has it all. However, virtually all aspects of the physical, biogeochemical and ecosystem dynamics and interactions are, and will increasingly be, affected by climate change, with consequences for ecosystems and people that rely on them. In many ways, British Columbia is a microcosm of many places in the world. Never before has there been such an urgency to understand all aspects of aquatic systems. And there will be many surprises, economic, political and environmental. Developing effective approaches to prepare for those changes needs interdisciplinary engagement by aquatic ecologists, economists, legal scholars, policy analysts, behavioural scientists, cross border negotiators, and many others. “I used to think I knew what interdisciplinary meant. I now realize I had only an inkling of what is needed for understanding and developing climate solutions.”
Forage fish are at the heart of many marine food webs. Eaten by many species, including people, they are economically, ecologically, and culturally important. Their numbers are also notoriously variable. In the Northeast Pacific, herring have been central to the social, cultural, and economic relations of coastal indigenous communities for many thousands of years7, and many communities seek to continue their traditional fisheries for herring and herring roe on kelp. Industrial seine and gillnet fishing of adult fish for their roe has also contributed to the economy and livelihoods of many communities across the Northwest Coast. With this socio-cultural centrality comes complexity for management. This talk will explore how marine species, and the human communities that depend upon them respond to a suite of pressures, and how we can best predict tipping points in the socio-ecological system. I highlight how access, power relationships and perspectives on sustainability create conflict, but also reveal a way forward.
From mountains to the sea and from the sea to mountains, we experience and interact with water in different ways, yet we all share the most basic needs for our relationship with water and the environment. For Hawaiians, the existence of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of rain and wind names is evidence that our kūpuna, our ancestors, understood the value of these forces and developed intimate relationships with their universe. Traditional Hawaiian land- and ocean- tenure systems are examples of this applied understanding as well as the constructs of language and the numerous oral traditions that contain cultural principles. In these changing times, we have much to gain from reviewing the foundational understandings and relationships that indigenous peoples have with all parts of the earth, as part of our collective pursuit for adaptive management frameworks, an essential step in developing a healthy relationship with our Island Earth. As the Hawaiian proverb says, “I ka wā ma mua, i ka wā ma hope; The future lies within the past.”
These are unusual times for the global science community. Many of us are unsure if our voices and the important work that we all do will be heard and respected. In this talk I hope to make the case why our aquatic science matters and how we can better communicate that to the general public, policy makers, and our elected officials. This presentation was stimulated by our public policy committees – message of January 20th on “in politics, facts don’t always matter.”
The Tara Oceans expedition (2009-2013) is the largest DNA sequencing effort ever done for the ocean revealing around 40 million genes, the vast majority of which are new to science, thus hinting towards a much broader biodiversity of plankton (from viruses to eukaryotes) than previously suggested. Thanks to novel computer models, these data also allowed to predict how these diverse planktonic organisms interact. These resources provided a unique opportunity to look at the biological carbon pump integrating its entire biological complexity, describing the first “planktonic social network” associatedv with carbon export in the oligoptrophic ocean.
Coral reefs in Hawaii and across the globe continue to decline in health due to intensifying climate change, resource extraction and pollution. Although the future looks bleak, certain corals and reefs are not only surviving, but also thriving in conditions that kill others. Dr. Gates will unveil the complex biology that underpins this natural variation in the response of corals to stress. She will then discuss how this knowledge can be harnessed to develop tools that build resilience on reefs, arresting and improving the prognosis for coral reefs.
The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG) is one of the largest biomes on Earth. Despite the global significance of the NPSG for energy and matter transformations and its key role in the ocean’s carbon cycle, it is undersampled and not well characterized with respect to ecosystem structure and dynamics. Since October 1988, interdisciplinary teams of scientists from the University of Hawaii and around the world have conducted research at Station ALOHA (22.75 N, 158 W), a site chosen to be representative of this expansive oligotrophic habitat. Three major field programs, the Hawai‘i Ocean Time-series (HOT; 1988-present), the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE; 2006-2016) and the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE; 2014-present), have contributed to the creation and dissemination of knowledge with a focus on microbial processes and biogeochemistry. In Nov 2015, the American Society for Microbiology-designated Station ALOHA a “Milestones in Microbiology” site in recognition of historic and visionary accomplishments. After nearly three decades of intensive study, we now have a new view of an old ocean, with revised paradigms built on the strength of high-quality time-series data, insights from the application of –omics techniques and observations from autonomous gliders. The pace of new discovery, and the importance of integrating this new understanding into predictive models is an enormous contemporary challenge with great scientific and societal relevance.
Dr. Sebastian Diehl presents a lake ecosystem model where producers and grazers in benthic and pelagic habitats are coupled through carnivore movement and fluxes of resources (light, nutrients). This system exhibits an intriguing mix of top-down and bottom-up regulation. Within each habitat, primary production is top-down controlled by carnivores, but the cross-habitat interaction is driven from the bottom-up by spatially asymmetric resource competition. Producers mutually inhibit fluxes of the resources that most limit production in the other habitat: pelagic producers shade out light and benthic producers intercept sediment nutrients. The resulting positive feedbacks cause abrupt transitions between dominance of benthic vs. pelagic primary and secondary production along environmental gradients. Model predictions are largely congruent with data from unproductive lakes covering a wide gradient of colored dissolved organic matter (cDOM). Notably, the model correctly predicts a negative correlation of pelagic nutrients with primary and fish production, the underlying mechanism being that cDOM-shading suppresses primary production and releases nutrient transport from the sediment to the pelagic habitat.
There is a growing realization that inland waters are major contributors to the global C balance, as transporters of material from land to the oceans, and also as sites for intense C processing, storage and emission to the atmosphere. This is an area of extremely active research and debate, clearly evidenced by the multiple sessions that in one way or another touch upon C-related issues in this ASLO meeting in Santa Fe. This talk will include an outline of some of the major questions concerning C and greenhouse gas dynamics in inland waters that are the current focus of attention of the community. The presentation has some examples drawn from the work by Dr. del Giorgio’s group, as well as an attempt to summarize and integrate some of the developments and highlights that will be presented in the various C-centric sessions during this ASLO meeting. The talk is addressed to the less carbonaceous audience to provide the broader ASLO community with an overview of this issue of global importance.
Metabolism of streams and rivers in part controls the degree to which the process downstream transport of organic carbon. Additionally primary production supports a large fraction of animal production in rivers. Long term oxygen monitoring coupled with new statistical modeling methods enables conversion of these data into time series of gross primary production (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (ER), with the outcome of many more long time series of metabolism than currently exist. My presentation will address how to ecologically interpret these metabolism time series and show how we can use them to address questions of C cycling in rivers and assess human impacts to rivers.
In an era of increasing human influence and sometimes slow and sometimes rapid environmental change, lakes have proven to be excellent study systems for observing and understanding temporal dynamics over multiple time scales. Maintaining long-term data sets comes with a variety of challenges, but the value of the investment becomes increasingly apparent as these records lengthen. I will provide several examples of environmental changes revealed by long-term data sets from the North Temperate Lakes Long-Term Ecological Research site and from other long-term lake studies to demonstrate the diversity of types, patterns, and rates of change- and thus to highlight the value of these records for understanding basic ecological phenomena as well as lake responses to human activities.
Environmental changes seldom occur alone, and while evolutionary theory tends to focus on cases where the environment worsens from the point of view of organisms, there are many cases where the environment also improves organismal fitness. Dr. Collins will discuss recent experiments that deal with limits to evolution under environmental enrichment, as well as empirical and theoretical results for understanding how evolution in the presence of several drivers differs from evolution in response to single environmental changes.
Fire has been an integral part of global biogeochemical cycles ever since vascular plants evolved on the continents. In the more recent history of Earth, humans have used fire extensively as a tool to shape Earth’s vegetation. Wildfires produce a wide suite of black carbon moieties ranging from slightly altered biopolymers, that quickly decompose in soils and waters, to charcoal. Today, global biomass burning generates an approximated 40-250 million tons of charcoal every year. Due to its particular chemical and physical properties, charcoal can be preserved over centuries and millennia in soils and sediments. After years of microbial attack in soils, however, charcoal becomes partially soluble, is lost from soils by leaching, and eventually enters the aquatic environment. The global flux of soluble charcoal to the oceans accounts to about 25-28 million tonnes carbon per year, which is ~10% of the global riverine flux of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). At the ocean’s surface, dissolved black carbon is susceptible to photo-bleaching, but a fraction survives transport into the dark deep ocean. In the dark ocean, dissolved black carbon is the chemically most stable form of DOC known. It is stable over tens of thousands of years, and has accumulated there to more than 12,000 million tonnes of carbon. Fire is now recognized as an important player in global biogeochemical cycles, impacting even the most remote regions of the abyssal ocean.
Global plastic production has risen rapidly over the past sixty years, and 10% of all discarded plastic waste is thought to end up in the oceans. There it can fragment, but takes centuries to fully degrade. As a result, microplastics - small plastic detritus less than 1 mm diameter- have become a widespread pollutant, and are increasingly present in aquatic ecosystems across the globe. This talk will bring together the latest research documenting the distribution of microplastics in the oceans, on shorelines and in coastal sediments, and provide evidence for bioaccumulation and the biological effects of microplastics ingestion on organisms from across the food web. Finally, it will discuss the potential ecological impacts of predicted increases in marine litter on different aspects of ecosystem function and biogeochemical processes, and how these effects may be influenced by interactions between plastics and biota.
There is no chance of perfect advice in ocean conservation and management. The choice is between imperfect advice and none at all. This realization should free ocean scientists to engage meaningfully in the development and implementation of public policy. My talk will address the uncomfortable but pressing need for us to apply existing knowledge immediately, rather than simply calling for more research. My story draws from the journey to develop and implement pioneering global export controls on marine fishes under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Along the way, we plunged forward with trade evaluation, establishment of marine protected areas, management recommendations, and policy change. We were often at the very edge of our technical understanding. In the best spirit of adaptive management, however, rapid application of existing knowledge helped both to effect societal change and to guide further research.
Inland waters are part of a global circulatory system, delivering terrestrial elements and water to the ocean. As early as the 15th century, da Vinci noted that this delivery system has components that are predictable and provide an opportunity for scaling. Precipitation and discharge events have frequency and distribution curves. Drainage networks have self-similar properties that can be simplified using mathematical expressions. Streams have a hydraulic geometry that can be quantified and are similar across landscapes. These relationships will be presented in the context of drainage network biogeochemistry. Specifically, utilization of these relationships will be developed to demonstrate approaches to model DOM dynamics within a basin, including DOC fluxes off the landscape, reactions during transport and coastal export.
The Antarctic continental shelf and surrounding open-ocean waters of Southern Ocean play important roles in marine biogeochemistry and the global carbon cycle. Seasonally ice-covered coastal waters are often highly productive, exhibiting large spring and summer drawdowns of nutrients and carbon dioxide and supporting high densities of upper trophic level organisms. Off-shore waters are typically more iron limited with lower plankton standing stock and overall productivity. The Southern Ocean as a whole also acts as a large sink from the atmospheric of anthropogenic carbon dioxide, primarily associated with the offshore upwelling of circumpolar deepwater and formation of mode, intermediate and deep waters. Climate change and ocean acidification are projected to alter substantially future sea-ice distributions, seawater chemistry, and ocean/atmosphere circulation patterns that modulate Southern Ocean marine biogeochemistry. The talk will discuss observational, remote sensing and modeling evidence for changing conditions in the Southern Ocean. A specific focus will be on the western continental shelf of the Antarctic Peninsula, which experiencing some of the most dramatic climate change on the planet, with rapid ocean-atmosphere warming, melting of coastal glaciers, reductions in seasonal ice cover, and shifts in phytoplankton distributions.
Ramón Margalef (1919-2004) was the founder of Spanish Ecology and had a large influence on the development of this science in the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America. He published some influential papers on Theoretical Ecology, Limnology and Oceanography. Even today some of his papers are a reference for ecologist (e.g Oceanologica Acta, 1978, vol 1:4). He received many awards during his life (e.g. Huntsman’s medal, Naumann-Thienemann medal). One of the ASLO awards has his name (Educational Award) and the Catalonian government has instituted an annual prize with his name. However, although Margalef’s ideas and books are well known in the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America, his extensive work its only in part known for the international non-Spanish speaking community. His last book written in English (“Our Biosphere”) is nearly unknown. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of his death, we have organized a series of events to remember his memory and work and to examine the actuality of his ideas (http://www.ub.edu/laubdivulga/margale...). A summary of such activities and the actuality of Margalef's ideas will be presented in this plenary lecture.
Aquatic microorganisms live and interact at the microscale. Yet, our knowledge of the exceedingly important ecosystem functions they play is based mostly on human-scale sampling approaches: rarely has their ecology been accessible at the level of single cells and their microenvironment. This barrier is due both to technical difficulties, given the minute scale and dynamic nature of many microbial processes, and to the counterintuitive physics that distinguishes the micro-scale from the macro-scale. I will show how the combination of microfluidic technology to create controlled, realistic microenvironments, with real-time and high-speed microscopic imaging to capture dynamic microscale processes, provides a powerful approach to begin to understand the microscale biophysics of aquatic ecosystems. I will illustrate this approach by presenting our recent efforts to directly image and thereby quantify the encounters between cyanobacteria and viruses, the chemotactic clustering of heterotrophic bacteria around individual diatoms, the unexpected micro-flows on a coral surface, and the microbial degradation of oil droplets and marine snow particles.
The major pathways of microbial N transformations have been known for more than a century. But in recent years, recognition of important new pathways and modifications of known pathways have changed our understanding of N cycling in the ocean. And these lead to new mysteries and new angles on longstanding questions. For example, nitrate is recognized as the major inorganic N source for phytoplankton, but how phytoplankton manage to obtain and utilize nitrate at the very low concentrations at which it occurs in surface waters is unclear. Using natural abundance stable isotope methods and isotope tracer incubations, we are able to trace the differential utilization of nitrate and ammonium into different fractions of the natural phytoplankton assemblage. We find that the small eukaryotic phytoplankton appear to be nitrate specialists although the mechanisms they use to obtain nitrate are unknown. Another example of a lingering mystery is the distributions of nitrite and nitrous oxide in the oxygen minimum zones of the world oceans. While the processes that produce and consume these intermediate components of the nitrogen cycle are well known, just how they operate to maintain the maxima and minima features that characterize the OMZ water column is unknown. We find using tracer incubations and simple models that even these apparently static distributions are the result of rapid, nearly cryptic, cycling by microbial transformations.
How should we model the response of ecosystems to global change? Current approaches typically treat organisms as black boxes with no adaptive capacity, yet organisms are continually acclimating to changing environmental conditions and populations are evolving – nowhere more so than in the marine microbial ecosystem. To try and better understand and simulate this we have developed an evolutionary ecosystem model (‘EVE’), which resolves the allocation of resources within individual phytoplankton cells that in turn form populations within the grid cells of a global ocean model. Phytoplankton traits and the crucial trade-offs between them are grounded in laboratory physiological measurements. The simulated physical environment then selects for successful phytoplankton growth strategies. This produces familiar patterns of phytoplankton cell size, and makes predictions of, for example, their N:P composition (the Redfield ratio). Using the model we have been able to test the ‘growth rate hypothesis’ for variations in phytoplankton cellular N:P composition and identify locations where it is falsified. The approach also enables a closer link between models and ‘omics’ (molecular genetics) datasets.
On 13 December 2010 two Spanish research vessels departed on a seven-month voyage to assess the impacts of global change on the ocean and explore its biodiversity, particularly that of the dark pelagic ocean. The Malaspina 2010 Circumnavigation Expedition completed its global sampling effort on 15 July 2011. For over three years hundreds of scientists have been busy analyzing samples to yield, once completed, a mosaic describing the status and biodiversity of the world oceans in 2011. With less than a third of the pieces in place, the mosaic is already changing our views on the loads and fluxes of pollutants and nutrients as well as diversity of the pelagic ecosystem. This plenary talk, presented by the coordinator of the Malaspina 2010 Circumnavigation Expedition, will provide a brief outline of results thus far and reflect on how collaborative efforts can accelerate progress in understanding the ocean ecosystem.
Just as aquatic ecosystems are experiencing an unprecedented period of impact and change, so is the scientific community, including its scholarly societies. Our aquatic sciences themselves are changing (becoming global, interdisciplinary, driven by big data) while society’s expectations for science and its communication and application are also undergoing radical transformation. The universe of scientific publication is also evolving in unpredictable ways (e.g. open access, journal proliferation) while traditional avenues of support for journals (e.g. library subscriptions) are eroding. To meet these demands, ASLO has undergone an extended series of external and internal reviews and assessments. Growing out of this process is a transformation of ASLO (“ASLO 2.0”). In this talk I will describe these exciting changes, some of which are completed, some of which are underway as we speak, and some of which will appear in the near future. ASLO 2.0: yet more powerful, more fun, more rewarding than ever before!
While there is no consensus yet on the notion of the Anthropocene, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that such a transition has occurred. This talk will contextualize the notion of water stress and conflict as a logical product of the transition between two geological epochs (Holocene and Anthropocene). It will thus set the scene for a strategic level discourse on the science underpinning management of water biomes and oceanographic provinces, within the context of a major transition in geological timescales that is likely to result in a fundamental shift in all of the major assumptions on which current knowledge is based. Our transition to the Anthropocene has unlocked three key elements that need to be interrogated by academia if the science, engineering and technology community is required to respond appropriately. These three elements are: 1) Acceleration in the rate of change to biophysical drivers. 2) Increase in the complexity and interconnectedness of previously separate systems. 3) Inappropriateness of our current response to the training of science, engineering and technology professionals. This talk will unpack these three elements using examples from the gold mining industry in South Africa, where it will be argued that Holocenic thinking has shaped a new generation of wicked problem that only an Anthropocenic approach is capable of solving.
Randy Olson, is the writer/director of the feature films, “Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus,” (Tribeca ’06, Showtime ’07), “Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy” (Outfest ’08), and author of “Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style” (Island Press ’09). His work focuses on the challenges involved in communicating science to the general public, and the current attacks on mainstream science in fields such as evolution and climate science. He is a former marine biologist (Ph.D. Harvard University) who achieved tenure at the University of New Hampshire before changing careers to filmmaking by obtaining an M.F.A. in Cinema from the University of Southern California. In addition to writing and directing his own feature films about major issues in science, he has worked with a variety of clients to assist them with the use of visual media in communicating science to the general public. Through his writings he has both related his journey, and continues his exploration into the role of storytelling in the mass communication of science.
Dr. Patricia A. Soranno is a freshwater ecologist who conducts both basic and applied research that integrates freshwater ecosystems into a landscape perspective. She has spent the last 20 years conducting collaborative research on lakes to build a more formal conceptualization of landscape limnology based on a foundation of landscape ecology and limnology. She has also conducted work for several state and tribal natural resource agencies to apply these principles to problems facing freshwater ecosystems, including nutrient criteria and ground-water withdrawal. She is currently leading an interdisciplinary NSF-funded project to integrate lake nutrient datasets from 17 US states into a multi-scaled geospatial database to further develop the conceptual foundation of landscape limnology that can ultimately be applied to freshwater policy and management at local to continental scales.
It is well known that sewage effluents contain substances that affect the endocrine system and reproduction of wild fish. However, it is not well understood whether the responses observed at the organism level, such as feminization of male fish living downstream, can be linked to impacts at the population level. To investigate this, a whole lake experiment was done at the Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario, Canada from 1999-2010 and examined the effects of the synthetic estrogen ethynylestradiol (EE2) used in birth control pills on the fish populations and their supporting food web. Continuous additions of EE2 (5-6 ng/L) were made to the lake in the summers of 2001-2003; biochemical- and tissue-level endpoints were examined in several species of fish and population data were collected for all trophic levels before, during and after EE2 additions and contrasted to reference lake data. The experiment was successful at reproducing the impacts observed downstream of wastewater discharges. Male fish from the treated lake produced high concentrations of vitellogenin (an egg yolk protein precursor) and had delayed spermatocyte development. In addition, in the second and third summer of additions, reproductive failures occurred for the shortest-lived fish species, the fathead minnow, with a subsequent collapse in the population. Ongoing monitoring of the lake after EE2 additions stopped showed that the fathead minnow population has recovered. Continuous inputs of low levels of the estrogen used in birth control pills can impact the sustainability of fish populations.
Throughout the past centuries most large rivers have increasingly become human-dominated ecosystems as a result of land reclamation, floodplain drainage, hydropower production, and channelization for navigation. Their domestication, i.e. their optimization for few ecosystem services, has fundamentally altered habitat conditions and led to the formation of nonanalogous biotic communities as well as to the truncation of vital ecosystem processes. The gains associated with domestication of freshwater ecosystems have been counter-balanced by deplorable trade-offs, the most severe of which are loss of biodiversity and decrease in related ecosystem services. Domestication of ecosystems, combined with the rapid turnover of biotic communities, calls for a fundamental rethinking of the future management of freshwater ecosystems. Persistent emphasis on an idealistic vision of ecosystems may not be feasible for ecosystems that continuously change. Concurrently, river management competes with the more human-focused targets and directives in the energy, flood control and agricultural sectors. Therefore, there is an urgent need for innovative, adaptive strategies to sustainably manage rivers. Conservation efforts will need to be complemented by, or perhaps even replaced by, increasing levels of management intervention, in order to maintain, or create, the desired ecological values of freshwater ecosystems.
While recent debate has focused on the utility of geo-engineering in relationship to amelioration of greenhouse gas impacts, we should recognize that humans have been engineering the earth’s surface for millennia. Humans have worked to change natural aquatic systems, particularly floodplains and delta plains, into unnatural conduits of water, sediment, carbon, nutrients and pollutants. While the engineering of rivers began some 3000 years ago with ancient civilizations, serious waterway engineering began in earnest between the 14th and 17th centuries, when great canals were built, rivers were straitened and levee systems were developed. Deforestation during these and later periods, introduced vast amounts of fresh sediment into these aquatic environments; fluvial sediment loads doubled on average. A major dam (more than15 m in height) has been built every day for the last 110 years, on average, sequestering hundreds of GT of sediment and carbon in reservoirs and greatly limiting the transport of sediment to the coast. This interception of upstream sediment has left modern rivers with cleaner water, reduced flood magnitudes, and discharge through fewer distributary channels that are armored with artificial levees. Today deltas are subsiding at rates four times larger than the sea level is rising, on average; subsurface mining (oil, gas or groundwater) being the main culprit. Tens of millions of hectares of our coastlines are flooded every year. Coastal retreat has accelerated from m/y to km/y as further impacted by the removal of protective coastal mangrove forests or wetlands, often to make room for shrimp farms. Human manipulation of our waterways have thus contributed to coastal land loss, reduced biodiversity, saltwater intrusion with soils turning saline, increased water temperatures, coastal erosion, loss of coastal infrastructure, and loss of wetlands. Only through understanding the global footprint of humans can we begin to develop effective policies and protocols for supporting global sustainability. We may also recognize our successes and failures at geo-engineering.
Until relatively recently under Euro-American traditions water has been treated as a public thing or a commons with few centralized points of management or prioritized uses. Growing populations and expanding industrialization have propelled a shift toward more intensive water management, a trend that greatly accelerated over the past 100 years or so. The resulting administrative structures and priorities were largely driven by the desire to foster growth and largely assumed that water could be commanded to serve that growth and the environmental and cultural costs, when they were acknowledged at all, could be effectively managed. The resulting sprawl of cities and the development and “reclamation” of wetlands and arid areas has produced unprecedented prosperity and production but there is increasing evidence that that growth, prosperity, and production will not be sustainable, at least with significant changes to way water resources are managed and most importantly to the underlying assumption that water in the future will be as available as it has been in the past.
Defining Hurricane Katrina as a natural disaster has been rejected in multiple ways. One striking rejection of that definition is demonstrated by the role played by the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) in the damaging storm surge that drowned the City of New Orleans. The engineered waterway was an act against Nature rather than an act of Nature. This presentation will consider: 1) how this waterway came to be—the “growth machine,” 2) the “Peter Principle” of construction momentum that led to the creation of a transportation technology ahead of a societal understanding of its negative implications and their mitigation, and 3) the refusal to take heed of the impending catastrophe when confronted with evidence from highly qualified scientists. Prospects for future ‘control’ of technology with coastal restoration will be considered in light of this history.
More than 120 years ago, Stephen A. Forbes recognized the utility of lakes for studying the complexity of interactions that are the hallmark of modern community ecology. Although parasites have not always been a central focus of community ecologists, recent research has revealed the roles they play in community dynamics. It has also become clear that the spread of disease through a host population often depends on other members of the food web besides the host and parasite species in question. Furthermore, some physical aspects of the environment seem to enhance the spread of disease whereas others inhibit it. We have been using freshwater zooplankton as a case study to understand the connection between habitat, community structure and disease spread. We see a pronounced relationship between the basin shapes of lakes and fungal (Metschnikowia bicuspidata) disease in the zooplankton grazer Daphnia dentifera. Multiple mechanisms can explain why Daphnia in some lakes are sicker, but we can eliminate some hypotheses and find support for others involving food-web players. Furthermore, we identify physical mechanisms that enhance the transport of fungal spores and increase the likelihood of epidemics in lakes with particular basin shapes. These results, coupled with examples from other systems demonstrate that habitat structure, through its effects on food-web composition and physical processes, can shape wildlife disease.
Currently the average concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is approaching 390 parts per million (ppm); a 39% increase over preindustrial levels. Half of that increase has occurred in the last 30 years. By mid-century, the average atmospheric CO2 concentration could easily reach double the preindustrial concentration of 280 ppm. The ocean currently absorbs between one-third and one-fourth of the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere from human activities, but the fraction of anthropogenic emissions taken up by the ocean appears to be decreasing with time. As this CO2 dissolves in seawater it forms carbonic acid resulting in what is commonly referred to as ocean acidification. A range of field and laboratory studies suggest that impacts of acidification on some major marine calcifiers may already be detectable and will likely increase in the future. Increasing acidity and related changes in seawater chemistry can also affect reproduction, behaviour, and general physiological functions of some marine organisms such as oysters, sea urchins, squid and some fish. Both the changing ocean CO2 uptake efficiency and potential changes in marine ecosystems suggest that the oceans are undergoing significant changes due to rising CO2. As the world begins to address the issue of global climate change we need to recognize that temperature and sea level rise are not the only concerns, but that the rising CO2 is having a direct impact on the environment and its ecosystem services.
Dr. Marcia McNutt is responsible for leading the nation’s largest water, earth, biological science and civilian mapping agency in its mission to provide the scientific data that enable decision makers to create sound policies for a changing world. She previously served as president and chief executive officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), in Moss Landing, California. Marcia has participated in 15 major oceanographic expeditions and served as chief scientist on more than half of those voyages. She has published 90 peer-reviewed scientific articles. Her research has ranged from studies of ocean island volcanism in French Polynesia to continental break-up in the Western United States to uplift of the Tibet Plateau. Marcia is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was awarded the American Geophysical Union’s Macelwane Medal in 1988 for research accomplishments by a young scientist and the Maurice Ewing Medal in 2007 for her significant contributions to deep-sea exploration. Marcia received a bachelor’s degree in physics from Colorado College and a doctorate in earth sciences from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill was an engineering, economic and socio-ecological failure that brought the attention of the world to the northern Gulf of Mexico. The immediate response was astonishment, followed by horror, anger, denial, action, perseverance and recovery. The oil gusher (not a leak, not a spill, not an incident) was an immediate environmental insult, and as yet unknown short- and long-term impact. Attention was focused on how the oil spill was affecting oceanic ecosystems, coastal habitats, coastal communities, and the health and resilience of plankton, blue fin tuna, and spill workers, not to forget the local and global economy. Attention was also drawn to the fragile and already-damaged condition of the northern Gulf of Mexico. The image of dots on a map of oilfield drilling and production platforms, including many in deep water, and the pipelines that connect them to shore is a spider-web denser off Louisiana than elsewhere. The inshore maze of pipeline canals, access canals, and navigation channels dices up the fragile deltaic landscape. The engineered Mississippi River is no longer the winding, sediment-laden “Big Muddy” that formed the deltaic plain and current bird-foot delta over the last seven thousand years. The Mississippi and its tributaries, floodplains and watersheds are no longer efficient at handling the magnitude of nutrients loaded onto it by human beings and their activities, and a world-class “dead zone” forms in the Gulf every spring and summer. Yet, we are now challenged with a Presidential Executive Order that calls for an integration of Federal efforts with those of local stakeholders to initiate and pursue complex, large-scale restoration projects. We face many opportunities and many challenges.