Program Committee Special Sessions
Water Crisis: Water Scarcity
Water Scarcity: Innovations in Policy, Politics and Science
Water scarcity is a global problem that already threatens socio-ecosystems because of past disruptions to water balances caused by unsustainable resource use. In the coming decades, climate change and the energy and food production required by growing populations will increase demands on freshwater ecosystems. The increasing rate and complexity of change in socio-ecosystems is creating the urgent need for applicable science and innovative solutions. This special session will explore the economic and environmental factors driving water scarcity, as well as the impacts of water scarcity on freshwater ecosystems. Speakers will discuss the need for, and highlight current examples of, innovative polices and governance that are informed or guided by science. Examples will include how communities or regions are preventing or mitigating the related environmental and economic consequences of water scarcity through policy, governance or resource management innovation.
Water Crisis: Health
Human and Associated Heath Issues Associated with Benthic Organisms and their Environment
Environmental problems, and our perceptions of their current and future national and global health effects associated with aquatic life have changed in recent times. About 20-40 years ago, public health was most concerned with local environmental degradation, as exemplified by air and water pollution. Now, threats to human health operate at a much larger geographical scale and have proven more difficult to investigate. Many of these global environmental changes are due to increased perturbations and pressures on aquatic environments, resulting in a set of newly emerging and re-emerging diseases throughout the world. Climate change, land-use changes, freshwater depletion and contamination, and biodiversity loss are important categories of global environmental change. We have brought together a group of scientists in this session to discuss some of the events involving or affecting aquatic organisms that may influence the future of humans and their environment.
Water Crisis: Biodiversity
Sustaining Freshwater Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Global Patterns, Processes, and Planning
The United Nations declared 2010 “International Year of Biodiversity” and the Convention on Biological Diversity has reconfigured its 2010 targets to reduce loss rates of biodiversity by 2020. What are the biodiversity targets in freshwater ecosystems, which have the highest threat of species losses? We need to be able to make stronger predictions of the patterns and consequences of declines and changes in biodiversity, specifically functional diversity, in global fresh waters. Freshwater ecosystems provide a variety of services (e.g., clean drinking water, nutrient processing, fisheries) that are maintained by the functioning of species. Global environmental changes are particularly threatening to freshwater organisms because of the direct effects of climate on water temperature and water scarcity, as well as the human demands of ecosystem services. Therefore, maintaining functional diversity likely ensures resilience of freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem services to global environmental changes. However, balancing the freshwater needs of humans and the environment will likely require targeting specific ecosystem services and the freshwater functional diversity required to maintain them.
This session will address the global threats to freshwater functional diversity and ecosystem services, and investigate targets and planned implementation to establish freshwater sustainability. Talks can range from theoretical to applied, empirical to synthetic, as well as perspective talks that forecast patterns and processes related to global change effects on freshwater biodiversity, ecosystem services, and the sustainability of both. International talks, interdisciplinary talks, and participation from junior and senior scientists is encouraged.
Organizer: John Kominoski (email@example.com)
Water Crisis: Ecosystem Services
Ecosystem Service Concepts in the Management of Freshwater Habitats
Recognizing and quantifying ecosystem services can help managers justify and allocate public funding for conservation, restoration, and preservation of freshwater systems. Ecosystem benefits integrates the public’s values in decision-making. Accounting for the ecosystem benefits of a management alternative or scenario (e.g., the environmental benefits per dollar spent) fosters more reliable prioritization among of restoration, remediation, conservation, or other management alternatives. The ecosystems services provided by aquatic systems are increasingly the motivation for and subject of ecological and socioeconomic research. In this session, we hope to feature presentations that address some of the key questions related to this expanding discipline including “what ecosystem services and human benefits do freshwaters provide?”, “what are the ecological functions that underlie ecosystem services (or benefits) and how should we quantify them?”, “how should we assign value to services?”, and “what research directions should we pursue?” Our goal for the session is to include presentations on the conceptual aspects of ecosystem services, on research that includes empirical measurements leading to estimation of benefits, on ecosystem valuation, and case studies where ecosystem service concepts have influenced decision-making. We encourage submissions from any geographic region dealing with ecosystem services provided by streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands, brackish and freshwater estuaries, ephemeral waters, or groundwater.Organizers: David Bolgrien (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ted Angradi (email@example.com)
Water Crisis: Water Quality
Human Impacts, Stream Biogeochemistry, and Water Quality
Anthropogenic activities have profoundly altered nutrient cycles across the globe and are a leading cause of degraded water quality for both local and downstream ecosystems. Water quality in streams is determined by activities on the landscape, watershed hydrology, and biogeochemical processes occurring within the streams. Understanding the role of these factors as well as their spatial and temporal interactions is paramount to the challenge of improving water quality in freshwater ecosystems. We invite contributions that address the biogeochemical cycles and related processes underlying the spatial and temporal patterns in water quality in human impacted streams. We welcome papers from any region or continent. The overall goal of this session is to broaden our view of processes influencing water quality in human impacted streams and seek out commonalities that might inform novel management practices.
Program Committee: Estuarine Ecology
Linking Landscapes: Watersheds to the Sea
Estuaries, transition zones affected by both watershed and oceanic processes, are important and valuable aquatic systems that support a vast array of ecosystem functions and services for plants, animals and humans. As such, estuaries are one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, acting as nursery areas for many commercially important fish and shellfish within their many diverse habitats. These complex and dynamic systems are subjected to a variety of environmental (biotic and abiotic) and human-induced stressors including those from the watershed as well as more global impacts such as sea level rise and climate change. This session will examine aspects of estuarine ecology, including salt marsh ecology, estuarine benthic ecology, seagrass ecology, and watershed processes and their effect on the estuary. An overview of the history and ecology of Narragansett Bay will also be provided.
Contributed Special Session Proposals
The Influence of Macroinvertebrates on Nitrogen Cycling in Multiple Biomes and Ecosystems
Macroinvertebrates influence rates of biogeochemical cycling through their movement, feeding methods, growth patterns, and excretion rates. Particularly when occurring in high abundances, macroinvertebrates can dramatically alter redox conditions as well as the distribution of nitrogen (N) and organic matter. Often, invasive organisms or those grown for commercial purposes provide excellent case studies for their influence on N cycling. In addition, some macroinvertebrates in their native ecosystems are effective at altering N cycling rates. Because of the notoriously high spatial and temporal variation in rates of N transformations in the natural environment, generating commonalities in the role of macroinvertebrates on N dynamics in different ecosystem types (i.e., riparian terrestrial, freshwater, and marine) and/or biomes has proven difficult. For this special session, we are soliciting studies from a diversity of biomes and ecosystems that quantify the role of macroinvertebrates on all aspects of N cycling. We particularly desire studies using experimental approaches to quantify macroinvertebrate influences on N dynamics, and authors are strongly encouraged to conclude with a conceptual framework of the interactions documented. The composite set of presentations will allow interested participants to begin exploring common themes and patterns in biogeochemistry across ecosystems, strengthening collective and individual research projects.
Improving Ecological Understanding of Multi-channel River Ecosystems
Large rivers with active flood plains are some of the most diverse yet threatened freshwater ecosystems in the world. In order to protect, and where possible, rehabilitate such flood plain rivers it is important to understand how their dynamic physical and ecological conditions determine biodiversity and ecosystem function. Many theories have been hypothesised linking flood plain geomorphology and hydrology with ecology, however there are relatively few robust ecological tests of these ideas. Rivers with large flood plains have been suggested to be model ecosystems to test ecological and hydrogeomorphic concepts. Thus, the aim of this special session is to showcase research that links ecological processes to the physical processes shaping flood plain rivers, with a hope to achieving an increased mechanistic understanding of how landscape variation leads to biodiversity. Multi-channel river systems occur throughout the world and we welcome papers from any continent or geographic region.
Recent Advances in Hyporheic and Parafluvial Zone Science
In its early history, hyporheic and zone research was limited to studies of macroinvertebrate distributions. In the last 30 years, the field has grown rapidly and diversified. Today, hyporheic zones are model systems for interdisciplinary research. Recent studies have incorporated concepts and methods from geophysics, biogeochemistry, landscape ecology, fluid mechanics, and many other fields. The interdisciplinary approach has allowed hyporheic researchers to tackle complex research questions and environmental problems. As the knowledge base about hyporheic systems expands, their importance in water purification, thermal regulation, and other ecosystem services is growing clearer. The need for, and challenge of, protective management of hyporheic zones is also growing clearer. Techniques for restoring degraded hyporheic zones and monitoring hyporheic health are at early stages of development, and restoration trials have had mixed results. The aim of this special session is to highlight (and critique) new approaches and emerging concepts in hyporheic and parafluvial zone research. We invite participants from all disciplines to present papers that span the range from field experiments to simulation modeling to restoration.
Promoting Evidence-based Methods in Environmental Research and Management
Environmental managers are under constant pressure to use ‘best available science’ to develop ‘evidence-based’ management plans. However, there is little guidance available as to what constitutes best available science, how to identify it, or how to use it to best inform research and management. Other scientific disciplines have developed robust approaches to evidence-based practice, with the health sciences being foremost among these. This session will bring together a diverse range of speakers who, largely independently, have been promoting and facilitating the uptake of evidence-based methods for research and management in the environmental sciences. Such efforts include: the increased use of systematic literature reviews to synthesize knowledge on ecological questions, methods and tools for extracting and synthesizing existing ecological evidence from the literature, sharing ecological evidence and data, the development of standard ontologies for ecological knowledge, and exploring the barriers to increased uptake of evidence-based methods by regulatory agencies. In addition to the invited speakers, we encourage submissions of case studies and general issues relating to the collection, synthesis and use of evidence in environmental sciences.
Organizers: J. Angus Webb (firstname.lastname@example.org), Michael B. Griffith, Andreas Melcher, C. Richard Ziegler, Susan J. Nichols
Conservation Challenges for Organisms with Complex Life-cycles
Purely freshwater organisms face a myriad of challenges throughout their lifetime: habitat degradation, flow modification, and species invasions are just some of the difficulties with which these organisms must contend. However, organisms with complex life-cycles, such as aquatic insects, amphibians, and diadromous fishes, face the additional impediment of adapting to entirely new environments with new obstacles to living and reproduction. All too often, freshwater ecologists overlook the other half of these organisms’ life-cycle and focus only on the freshwater life stages. This comes at a detriment to understanding potential causes of decline among these populations of organisms with complex life-cycles that take place outside freshwater systems. We invite speakers to join our session by presenting research that has focused on the conservation issues facing the terrestrial life stages of aquatic insects and amphibians, or the salt-water phases (including estuarine) of diadromous fishes.
Ecological Flows and Biological Indicators
Streamflow is a critical component to the ecological integrity of aquatic ecosystems. Flowing water has been deemed the “master variable” in stream/river ecology and can limit the distribution and abundance of aquatic and riparian species and influence the structure and function of aquatic and riparian ecosystems. As society grapples with changing and altered hydrology that coincidently impacts aquatic life health, the science of ecological flows is being embraced more frequently in the decision making process for better management that maintains the ecological integrity of aquatic ecosystems. Ecological flows are also necessary to maintain ecological services that otherwise prove too costly for society to sustain on large temporal and spatial scales such as water quality, aquatic endangered species recovery efforts, and stream/river channel maintenance efforts. If we hope to maintain the services, biodiversity, and integrity of these aquatic ecosystems then freshwater flows must be better managed. This session will explore the latest developments in the science of ecological flows and biological indicators and look at the social benefits that these studies have identified.
Advancing Exuviae as a Research and Conservation Tool
The exuvia is the shed cuticle left behind after ecdysis. In many aquatic insect taxa, the last ecdysis (producing ultimate stadial exuviae in hemimetabolous insects and pupal exuviae in holometabolous insects) represents an important energy transfer and ontogenetic niche shift from aquatic to terrestrial existence. The presence of exuviae at a site of interest confirms that the individual developed in that site. This has implications for the study of reproductive success, population genetic structure, species distributions and abundance, and biomonitoring. Our session will examine these varied research and conservation uses of aquatic insect exuviae, with a focus on the Odonata (dragonflies, damselflies), Chironomidae (midge flies), and potentially other taxa.
Experimental Tests of Local vs. Regional Mechanisms of Community Assembly in Stream Ecosystems
A fundamental goal in community ecology is to understand the relative role of biotic and abiotic factors on community assembly across spatial scales. Stream drainages are organized such that we now have correlative evidence that the relative role of regional factors, such as large scale disturbance and dispersal, versus local factors, such as habitat filtering and species interactions, change depending on location within river networks. However, the mechanisms underlying these patterns is far from understood. The goal of this session is to bring together researchers performing experiments to elucidate the mechanisms driving community assembly in stream ecosystems. Streams are hotspots of biodiversity and productivity, and since they occupy topographic low points in the landscape, are very susceptible to upstream landscape degradation. In the context of the global water crisis, it will become ever more important to understand how communities assemble in streams, as these processes underlie the patterns in local and regional aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem function.
Global Bioassessment Methods
Standard methods do not exist for collecting and processing benthic macroinvertebrate samples. Although several spatially extensive biomonitoring programs have standardized methods, they are not consistently applied by others at local, national or continental scales. Why not? And how might we begin to remedy this situation? Standard methods are essential for making spatially extensive assessments and for merging data sets collected by multiple institutions. The objective of this half-day session will be to assemble representatives from institutions collecting spatially extensive benthos data in North & South America, Europe, Africa, Asia & Australia to discuss the reasons, barriers, and possible research gaps that can be alleviated in order to develop standard methods. Such methods will aid scientists from multiple institutions to share data and to interpret results relatively free of sampling variance--with the goal of national, if not global benthic bioassessments.
A Bug’s Life. Stream Macroinvertebrates as Mediators of Stream Ecosystem Processes: Insights Gained from the Work of J. Bruce Wallace
Decades of research in several areas of ecology have revealed that species-specific traits are key to understanding the effects of organisms in driving ecosystem function and mediating the effects of disturbance. Much of this work in aquatic ecology was pioneered by J. Bruce Wallace and colleagues through their detailed analyses of life history and functional traits of aquatic macroinvertebrates, coupled with experiments to determine their roles in ecosystem processes. The session will highlight the approaches and findings from almost five decades of research that is rooted in a detailed understanding of species-specific characteristics to provide a basis for interpreting species’ effects in ecosystems. Contributions to the session will include retrospective analyses as well as identification of the next most important steps needed to advance our understanding of stream ecosystems that have been informed by this research.
Organizers: Amy Rosemond (email@example.com), Jack Webster and Susan Eggert.
Topics for General Contributed Sessions
Land Use Effects on Streams
Large River Ecology
Management of Aquatic Systems
Organic Matter Processing
Science and Policy
Systematics and Taxonomy
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