Explore NABS

in the drift: Fall 2013


Issue 17, Fall 2013

Dear Society for Freshwater Science,

Welcome to the current issue of your SFS newsletter. We've made the move to an email-embedded format, with direct links to additional content on the Society's website. Some hints to help ease your transition: (1) view in html format, and (2) allow images in the mails you get from us (these will greatly enhance your reading experience). Also, (3) check your various spam or "promotions" folders in case we wind up there. We apologize for the tardiness of this issue and blame it mainly on our overly optimistic belief that this major format overhaul would be simple and quick. So here you have a Fall issue essentially acting as a Summer one (including the Jacksonville meeting recap!).

Take note:
We will be using this format for all important SFS email communications in the future. These include Society mailings about the annual meeting, votes for new board members, membership surveys, etc. So keep it on your radar.

Another big change in SFS publications is that the Bulletin no longer exists as a stand-alone entity. All items previously included in the esteemed Bulletin are now available on various parts of the Society website, and we will provide timely Bulletin-esque items in the email sidebar under the new heading "FPOM" (to match the in the drift theme). Meanwhile, other SFS news "feeds" will continue on the main webpage (see the What's New and Benthos News columns), @BenthosNews on Twitter, and the Society for Freshwater Science Facebook page.

All this news comes from you, of course. So our final request is that you keep in touch. Please email us news about the cool stuff going on in freshwater science and with SFS members in your corner of the world, or elsewhere.


THE BULLETIN is no more. This "FPOM" sidebar will feature Bulletin-like notes and quick links. This issue featuring:

Send Us News!

YOU are our best freshwater science news source. Too modest to report your own news? Then out your SFS colleagues instead!

And please let us know any comments or suggestions for in the drift, your SFS newsletter.

Contact us!


Freshwater Science Article Spotlight:

Degraded streams as dilapidated houses: how to decide which are worthy fixer-uppers?

Merovich, Petty, Strager, Fulton. Freshwater Science 32(3): 874-891.

Location, location, location.” So they say in the real estate business. What the phrase suggests is that where a house is located - especially with respect to the state of its surroundings - is often the most important factor in determining its value. And if you think stream ecologists have nothing in common with real estate agents, you haven’t met these FWS authors yet.

Allow us to introduce George Merovich and co-authors. They are from West Virginia, a state with a rugged, rural landscape (hence the “Mountaineer” mascot of WVU) and a long history of coal mining resulting in thousands of miles of streams degraded by acid mine drainage. Beyond their clear love for West Virginia streams, these authors wanted to address the more practical issue of how to designate limited conservation funds to mine cleanup and aquatic restoration across the region. They also wanted to map patterns of stream degradation in a way that would be useful to resource managers.

Senior author Merovich was a PhD student of second author Todd Petty, who formulated the real-estate analogy just after he began field work in the region on streams impacted by acid mine drainage. “There are situations where nearly pristine streams drain directly into streams that are completely void of fish and insect life. I couldn’t help but think of the real estate analogy … an immaculate house adjacent to one that is dilapidated,” says Petty.

Clearly, one stream would have a pretty strong impact on the other when they are so close together. And in a restoration framework, a “dilapidated” stream sharing a watershed (or “neighborhood”) with several mostly healthy streams would probably be a more worthy “fixer-upper” than a stream in a neighborhood filled with other degraded streams. The idea is that you’d get more bang for your conservation buck if you focused restoration efforts on fixing up degraded streams occupying otherwise pretty nice neighborhoods.

But then there is also the matter of scale.

Stream networks can be considered at multiple nested hierarchical scales, and Merovich et al. figured that the real-estate analogy could work at scales beyond that of the individual stream segment. For their paper, they characterized >9000 stream segments according to landscape variables including spatially explicit mine information (e.g., % mining in the watershed, intensity of mining, distance to nearest mine). With these data, they were able not only to characterize how degraded individual stream segments were, but also to characterize entire watersheds in a similar manner. Clearly, this is in case the question your aquatic real-estate agent really wants to ask is: How worthy is my entire watershed of restoration efforts, given the state of the other watersheds surrounding it?

An important part of the research was validating the landscape/mine model to see how well it actually predicted water chemistry and biological conditions in a subset of the stream segments. The authors did this in two major watersheds: the Cheat and Tygart Rivers. The Cheat River occupies a particularly rugged and roadless landscape that makes access difficult and justifies adventure-filled whitewater rafting trips (up to Class V rapids during high flows!) in the name of stream ecology. And this is just what authors Merovich and Jen Fulton did, along with a dedicated field crew. It paid off, because it turned out that the landscape/mine model could accurately predict the data they collected along the way.
The authors are hoping their results and maps of stream segment and watershed condition will have a big influence on restoration decisions, the mine permitting process, and other management issues. And they also hope to expand the framework to the southern coalfield region of West Virginia, where mountaintop removal mining is rampant. We’re optimistic that the real-estate metaphor will help communicate better their important conservation results for streams of this beautiful region.

article spotlight
The Blackwater River from above, illustrating the technical difficulties of sampling streams here and why West Virginia is known as “The Mountain State”. The pathway through the trees on the opposite side of the canyon is the track of the former Western Maryland Railroad, which is now a hiking trail. The Blackwater is a tributary of the Cheat. (photo: George Merovich)

article spotlight
Even mapping the bad news can be fun. Merovich and co-author Jen Fulton sample the Cheat River near a tributary heavily affected by acid mine drainage. (photo: Petty Lab)

article spotlight
A Cheat River rapid somewhere in the vicinity of “The Big Nasty”, where Merovich and crew (and their rafts full of sampling gear) were “annihilated”. In his words: “we capsized, got chewed up and spit back out by the rapid, only to find ourselves bobbing down the middle of the river”. They had hired professional raft guides (believe it or not), who managed to retrieve all researchers and sample gear. “We only lost a few breaths of air, and we gained immense respect for the power of the river.” (photo: Jen Fulton)

article spotlight
Cheat River sampling crew, including authors Merovich (2nd from left) and Fulton (4th from left), in high-fashion neoprene rafting and stream ecology gear. (photo: Petty Lab)

Pam's Journal Notes

Pam's Corner

Our journal editor Pam Silver (who has many additional talents, including bagpipe-playing and quilting) regularly offers us pertinent Freshwater Science related updates. This issue, she provides a direct, unedited contribution in which she discusses the many challenges (in addition to benefits) of moving the journal from Allen Press to U of Chicago Press.

I strive to make everything I do look effortless. When I play bagpipes, I stand up straight, I do NOT puff out my cheeks like a chipmunk, and I never pant (visibly) when I am finished playing a set of jigs. When Deb and Julie asked me to write about the challenges associated with the journal’s move to University of Chicago Press (UCP), I had to think about how to present the effort this move has required.

The 2008 J-NABS strategic planning committee recommended changing the journal’s title to better represent its scope, attract content in the broader area of aquatic science, and encourage submissions from the international community. It recommended exploring business models to keep the journal financially stable and competitive in an era of rapid changes in scientific publication. The society changed the journal’s title to Freshwater Science in December 2011, and the transition from using Allen Press as a service provider to copublishing with UCP began in January 2013.

Pam's Corner

The title change worked spectacularly well. Submissions jumped ~25% from 175 in 2011 to 215 in 2012. So far, 207 manuscripts have been submitted in 2013 (as of 22 September), and I expect >300 new submissions in 2013 (~40% more than in 2012). The percentage of non-North American submissions has risen from ~20 to ~35%, and new topics include vertebrates (fish, amphibians, and birds), hydrology, geomorphology, lakes, and wetlands. I expect the increase in submissions to continue in 2014 when the cost of publishing in FWS decreases to $30/page. The increase in submissions has increased the workloads of the journal’s Associate Editors and referees, and their staunch support is greatly appreciated. Ultimately, more submissions means more journal pages (and more effort invested in editing, copy editing, and proof reading).

UCP uses a manuscript submission and tracking system called Editorial Manager (EM). EM is powerful, but its use carries a steep learning curve. Sheila Stephens, the journal’s EM administrator/copy editor, has the monumental task of getting us up to speed and working the bugs out of the system. Another challenge is that manuscripts submitted via AllenTrack cannot be moved electronically into EM. Since 8 April 2013, 47 authors have moved their manuscripts from AllenTrack to EM as they submitted revisions, and Sheila and I have moved 17 manuscripts as they were put into production. Twenty-four manuscripts remain to be moved.

Other not-so-visible, but oh-so-time-consuming changes made by our UCP partners include creating a new web site (http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/journals/journal/fws.html), cover design (we now have cover photographs!), interior design (which will save us 20% on pages published), and production workflow. Irwin Polls, the journal’s business manager, and UCP staff have spent countless hours on budgets, planning, legal matters, and business arrangements preparatory to publication of FWS at UCP.
The journal is emerging from a period of transformation that has required enormous effort on the part of many people, including (I must confess) me. 2014 will be a time to regroup. And 2015? More strategic planning, of course!

River Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities

rivcon book

July 2013
ISBN: 978-84-92937-47-9
400 pages

Sergi Sabater and Arturo Elosegi have spent their lives studying stream ecology and documenting the severe impacts of human activity on river ecosystems. A few years ago they figured it was time to take on a project that was a bit different, something that could potentially make strides towards reversing the trend of continued degradation that they had been documenting.

The result of their endeavor is the new book River Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities, published by the Fundación BBVA (FBBVA), the philanthropic arm of the large Spanish bank [Banco] Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria. Sergi and Arturo had already worked successfully with FBBVA in the production of the widely distributed Spanish-language book Concepts and Techniques in River Ecology (published in 2009), so they were enthusiastic about the prospect of another, even bolder project with the conservation-minded group.

In addition to strongly supporting the “promotion of research, advanced training, and the transmission of scientific knowledge to society at large” (quoted from FBBVA’s mission statement, here: hyperlink: http://www.fbbva.es/TLFU/tlfu/ing/sobre/principios/index.jsp), the foundation also encourages projects that “transcend international boundaries”. As editors, Sergi and Arturo took this latter objective seriously, inviting leading scientists from four continents (Europe, Australia, Asia, and North America) to participate as authors on their new book. In July 2011, the FBBVA hosted a multi-day workshop in Madrid at the opulent palace of the Marqués de Salamanca (see photos). A number of the authors of the nascent book attended, and one workshop day was open to the public for presentations and discussion. It was there that the authors – many of them SFS members – formulated the outline for the new book.

rivcon book
Editors Arturo Elosegi (leftmost) and Sergi Sabater (front row, second from right), and some of the authors gather on the marble stairway of the Palace of the Marqués de Salamanca during the planning workshop sponsored by the FBBVA.

Each of the chapters in River Conservation – which cover various major themes, from hydrology to biodiversity, and from pharmaceutical pollutants to invasive species – converges on what Arturo and Sergi describe as “a view towards conservation”. A major theme winding its way through the chapters elucidates the tension between humans’ general love of rivers (for both aesthetic and instrumental values) and the damage that we are doing to these sensitive systems by virtue of our demand on them. The book’s target audience is the educated general public, and it presents a broad overview of contemporary thinking in stream ecology that should be useful to most of us SFSters as well.

rivcon book
Authors hard at work in the Palace, which was covered with famous paintings by Goya and other Spanish artists. According to Arturo, “despite this dose of luxury, so unusual for river scientists, we managed to make good progress with the book draft.”

“We have pragmatic and ethical obligations to conserve rivers and their biodiversity,” say Arturo, Sergi, and Andrew Boulton in the concluding chapter, where they argue that we as humans can and must change our behaviors to protect and recover the essential resources that rivers provide.

Where can you obtain the book, you ask? As of now, it is available online through the FBBVA’s website, here (http://www.fbbva.es/TLFU/microsites/river/river_conservation.html). Not only can you order a copy for your personal library (for 28€), but also the FBBVA has made all the chapters freely downloadable in electronic format (albeit relatively low-resolution) from the same web page. Or, if you’d rather wait and buy the book in hard copy in your own nation’s currency (if you do not happen to live in the Eurozone), it will soon be available at major booksellers (like Amazon and Barnes & Noble). Keep an eye out!

Jax 2013 Meeting Recap

  • Sequestration, Schmequestration. We had 785 registrants in Jacksonville for our 61st annual meeting. Maybe a bit lower than recent totals, but still successful considering that many employees of the US government were not allowed to travel.
  • “Just a puppet”. According to Dave Penrose, this was his main role as SFS president, in spite of having been elected “most likely to become an ecoterrorist” in his high school class. We thank Dave for his service, and for expanding the beer and music components of the meeting (including providing 2 kegs for the memorial jam!).
  • Awards night. Our Society’s most prestigious honor, the Award of Excellence, this year went posthumously to Richard Norris. His family and close colleagues were on hand to honor him (see photo), and his daughter Nicki recalled each year as she was growing up, “saying goodbye to Dad as he left for NABS” on a transoceanic flight, and wondering what the fun run t-shirt would look like. Lucinda Johnson got a well-deserved Distinguished Service Award, Bruce Wallace (“the guy who poured methoxychlor in headwater streams”, as he reminded us ironically) got the Environmental Stewardship Award, and Mike Bogan earned the Hynes Award for New Investigators.
  • Free drink tickets! Those of us who had refereed a manuscript for Freshwater Science in the recent past got one free beer each. Now you will definitely give an enthusiastic “yes!” when Pam invites you for a review, won’t you?
  • Memorial Jam. Late on Tuesday night, we gathered in a nondescript conference center room to honor the colleagues and friends that we lost in 2012. The Benthic Balladeers started rocking out, the lights went off mysteriously and stayed off for about 20 minutes, and then we paid our tributes, including a stirring performance on the bagpipes by Pam Silver (see photos).
  • Energized Plenary. The plenary session spanned two mornings and included super-informative talks on a range of energy- and other resource-extraction processes, from montaintop removal coal mining (and the mildly controversial “extraction-restoration dance”, by Margaret Palmer), to hydropower (William Graf), to fracking (Rob Jackson), to the Pebble Mine (Carol Ann Woody).
  • “The Future of Freshwater Science” To our knowledge, this was the first time we had a special session dedicated to undergrads. It included a number of familiar faces representing different fields of freshwater science, all making convincing arguments that our undergrads should stick with us. Walter Dodds was certainly convincing when he pointed out, about 30-year NEON/STREON data, “you guys are the ones who will be analyzing this stuff”. Several of the Instars fellows had positive feedback, including a promising “I hope to give a presentation of similar quality next year!” (about Keith Gido’s talk).
  • Hills. This year’s fun run had a little surprise in store. They were not natural hills (not in Florida, as expected). Rather: they were large overpasses.
  • The Business no-Lunch. Although no one ever has any discussion points prior to approving the minutes of the BOD meeting, the Business Lunch has greatly increased in popularity over the past few meetings – enough that the sack-lunches run out. Not to worry, though: they eventually managed to make enough sandwiches to feed all of us.
  • New UCP co-pub agreement. Pam and Irwin reported on the many benefits of our journal’s move to a new co-publishing agreement with the University of Chicago Press, including decreased page charges and a number of free color figures! The changeover will be complete by the first issue of 2014.
  • “Student Resources Committee”. The biggest vote at the business lunch resulted in a name-change of “GRC” to “SRC”.
  • New prez. We welcome Randy Fuller to the helm, with Brian Shelley as his right-hand man. Newly elected delegates to the BOD (who will be serving 3-year terms) are Chris Robinson and Mike Paul.
  • A headlight for your service. As the presidency changed hands, Randy presented Dave P with a car headlight (gift-wrapped in a sparkly green bag) to commemorate Dave’s exceptional service to SFS - which included driving down to check out Jacksonville late in 2012, getting his car wiped out by a shredded semi truck tire (Dave pulled through injury-free), and having to spend extra days and cash in Jax waiting on car repairs before driving back home to North Carolina.
  • PDX 2014! We are getting geared up for the 2014 Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting (including SFS, ASLO, Society of Wetland Scientists, and Phycological Society of America) in Portland, Oregon. Lucinda Johnson and LeRoy Poff are key contacts for SFS, and Emily Campbell is our student rep, so talk to these people with ideas. We were thinking maybe we could get Portlandia to film there…
  • The golf tournament with two competitors. Two people signed up for the first-ever Society golf tournament. Randy (our new prez) was declared the winner, and Nick Aumen (a past-prez, Jax meeting program chair, and our beloved auctioneer) was runner-up. Congrats to these two, who also promise that they will not give up on converting us SFSters to golf fanatics one of these days.
  • Thanks!! To Milt Ward, Nick Aumen, and everyone on the meeting planning committee who made “Jax 2013” a success!

annual meeting recap
“The male giant water bug (Abedus herberti, Belostomatidae) must be a good father, carefully keeping wet the eggs he carries, but staying near to the surface where he can replenish the eggs' oxygen." Mike Bogan won this year’s photo contest with this shot, taken at Garden Canyon, Huachuca Mountains, Arizona.

annual meeting recap
President Penrose’s benthic invertebrate species stickers, made for adding to name badges. Deb was Psychomyia nomada. What were you? (photo: Deb Finn)

annual meeting recap
Checo Colon-Gaud reports to the Board of Directors on the huge success of the Instars mentoring program (which hosted 13 fellows in Jacksonville). (photo: Mark Wetzel)

annual meeting recap
This was the first year we had a Twitter hashtag (#SFS2013), leading to much live tweeting of the meeting, including Nick’s talk in the example above.

annual meeting recap
Alvin Brown, Mayor of Jacksonville, welcomed us on opening night, enthusiastically professing his love of the city’s main river: the St. Johns. (photo: Mark Wetzel)

annual meeting recap
The Award of Excellence went [posthumously] to Richard Norris. His daughter Nicki and wife Ursula (3rd and 4th from left, respectively) accepted the award, and his close colleagues gave tributes, including a presentation of his career highlights by Sam Lake (far right) that included “muscular limnology” and how the two of them mapped out Richard’s thesis project while drinking red wine under the Southern Aurora. (photo: Mark Wetzel)

annual meeting recap
Mike Swift gave his Treasurer’s report at the business lunch, as per usual. Only this time he later had to “put on a different wig” and read Kim Haag’s financial report – because Kim had been sequestered by the US government. (photo: Mark Wetzel)

annual meeting recap
Dave Penrose and students at the 11th annual Student-Mentor Mixer. (photo: Mark Wetzel)

annual meeting recap
Fred Benfield leads the Benthic Balladeers at the Tuesday night memorial jam, in honor of a number of our recently lost colleagues. (photo: Mark Wetzel)

annual meeting recap
We should have a caption contest for this one. Subjects are: Outgoing President Dave Penrose, PDX meeting organizer Lucinda Johnson, and incoming President Randy Fuller. Setting: the business lunch, just before Dave handed over the presidency to Randy. (photo: Mark Wetzel)

annual meeting recap
More of the Memorial Jam: Sue Norton on fiddle, Mary Power on mandolin, Pam Silver on the pipes. (all photos: Mark Wetzel)

annual meeting recap
Post-banquet bubbles at the Jacksonville Landing. (photo: Mark Wetzel)

annual meeting recap
John Epler discovers an epic aquatic beetle at the Taxonomy Fair. (photo: Mark Wetzel)

annual meeting recap
Irwin Polls displays the template for the new Freshwater Science cover, co-published by the University of Chicago Press. (photo: Mark Wezel)

annual meeting recap
Representing the home state: the Florida Association of Benthologists table. (photo: Mark Wetzel)

annual meeting recap
Sandy Milner, who organized the plenary session, poses with speaker Margaret Palmer after her presentation on the “extraction-restoration dance”. (photo: Mark Wetzel)

annual meeting recap
As usual, the live auction (which benefits the student endowment) had a number of unique contributions, like this beer-themed bird feeder. But something was missing: our faithful auctioneer Nick Aumen requests a return of the “Pope Picture”, which apparently made several repeat auction performances before disappearing. If you’ve got the pope (John Paul II, we are pretty sure), please donate him again next year. (photo: Mark Wetzel)

Your in the drift newsletter is brought to you by Deb Finn, Julie Zimmerman, and Patina Mendez. We represent the Public Information and Publicity (PIP) committee of SFS, co-chaired by Erin Hotchkiss and Becky Bixby.
What's New
  • Making Waves Podcast Episode 27: Animal Migrations andnd Freshwater Nutrient Subsidies , Amanda Subalusky more
  • Making Waves Podcast Episode 26: Carbon Fates, Dr. Erin Hotchkiss more
  • Does Cultural Diversity Matter to Scientific Societies? Read the President's Environment more
  • SFS Student Presentation Awards! more
  • In the drift just fell into your sampler! The Spring 2015 Newsletter is here! more
  • Making Waves Podcast Episode 14: Nitrogen Fixation in a Warming World, Dr. Jill Welter more
  • The President's Environment: What's New? more
  • 4th International Symposium of the Benthological Society of Asia and 2nd Youth Freshwater Ecology School August 19-25, 2018

  • 2018 Benthic Ecology Meeting (BEM) in Corpus Christi, Texas, USA: 28-30 March 2018.


  • The deadline to submit proposals for AQUATROP Special Sessions or Symposiums is now November 17, 2017

  • SFS joins CASS in condemning silencing of EPA scientists

  • Andy Leidolf appointed as SFS Executive Director



More SFS News...

Back to Top
© 2015 Society for Freshwater Science
Membership Services:
(435) 797-9270 | sfsmembership@usu.edu