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in the drift: Spring 2015


Issue 22, Spring 2015

Dear Society for Freshwater Science,

Welcome to your pre-meeting issue of in the drift. We've got great stuff for you to read, including lots of last-minute info about what is going on in Milwaukee, a fantastic Article Spotlight about the Everglades, info from Pam Silver about what's happening at FWS, an enlightening Q&A with Kurt Fausch, and a plea for help with the Bibliography from Mark Wetzel. We hope you enjoy!

Meanwhile, there is no reason to get all long-winded in this little welcome/intro blurb. We all have presentations to work on and last-minute travel plans to set in motion.

Milwaukee 2015 is going to be awesome! Safe travels, and see you there!


Short SFS notes and quick links collected from "the drift"


Last-minute info for Milwaukee 2015!

Many thanks to meeting co-organizer Steve Fancoeur and SRC reps Petra Kranzfelder and Joanna Blaszczak for providing us these last-minute heads-ups.

  • The glorious program is available here, the detailed schedule grid is available online here, and a full list of all titles, authors, and abstracts is available in pdf format here, for your searching pleasure.
  •  NEW THIS YEAR: Presenters will upload their presentations using the online system at http://sfsannualmeeting.org/Papers.cfm. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the link. Use the same username and password as for abstract submission. You must upload your presentation no later than midnight the day before your scheduled presentation (i.e., 11:59 pm Monday for a Tuesday presentation).
  • Are you RETIRING this year or even ALREADY RETIRED? Lucky! We are honoring all SFS retirees at Tuesday's mixer (5-7 pm in the Wisconsin Center Lobby ABC) by providing you with a free drink ticket and ribbon. To enhance the fun, we encourage colleagues and mentees of retirees to bring photographs and Powerpoint slides to the mixer - poster boards and a projector will be provided.
  •  HOTEL UPDATE: The SFS group room block at the Milwaukee Hilton expired April 24, but some rooms might still be available at the Hilton if you are in need. More information on SFS 2015 accommodations is available at this link.
  • If you have not registered, well, you'd better get to it. Register here.
  • The SRC is going all out on the LIVE AUCTION this year, including organizing the first-ever SFS karaoke duet competition, starting at 9:00 PM during the auction! (Also, if you can still find something to contribute to the auction, contact Joanna at: sfsliveauction@gmail.com
  • And speaking of auctions, the silent book auction is also back this year. If you have books to contribute, please drop them off at the auction table by no later than Monday morning.
  • There are still a few spots left on the SRC Kayaking Excursion & Workshop. Have a look; it's not just for students! Contact USU Conference Registration Services to sign up!
  • Finally, the USU Conference Services contact for any other conference-related questions is Joy Brisighella. Contact her at Joy.brisighella@usu.edu or (435) 797-9270.

...And do not forget to pat a member of the 2015 Annual Meeting Committee on the back and say thanks if you see them in Milwaukee:

Bob Stelzer, Steve Francoeur, and Emily Stanley

Freshwater Science Article Spotlight:

What maintains essential landscape patchiness in the Everglades?

Larsen, Harvey, Maglio, Issue 34(1) pages 187-205.

If you are the typical ecology-minded “bystander”, looking on from afar at the progress of Florida Everglades research and management (like we are), you’re probably thinking this question is not new, and you’re right. It’s something ecologists – including this issue’s spotlighted authors – have been working on for some time now. The Everglades, naturally, are an extensive wetland ecosystem with a striking degree of landscape heterogeneity, termed the “ridge and slough” (see photo). The key ecological issue at stake is that this physical heterogeneity is essential for maintaining high fish and wading bird diversity, but structural homogenization has been proceeding at a rapid pace during the past century or so. Because an important part of the landscape heterogeneity could be nutrient redistribution (especially for phosphorous, the strictly limiting nutrient in the system), lead author Laurel Larsen et al.’s prime objective for the spotlighted study was to assess the influence of the following three potential drivers on P redistribution patterns: 1) decreased quantity and variability of flow and particle transport in surface water, 2) direct effects of plant evapotranspiration, 3) effects of differential subsurface flow through the microtopography of the system. (Yes, it gets a little complicated disentangling these effects, so you will have to refer to the well-written introductory text in the spotlighted article itself for more detail!)

Aerial view of the Everglades ridge and slough landscape: ridges are green and sloughs are gray in color. (photo: Laurel Larsen)

The published work represents a combination of a super-intensive observational field study (1.5 years of monthly sampling of surface and subsurface nutrient and chloride concentrations across a swath of the natural patchwork) and some serious modeling (“inverse conservative and reactive transport models” and sediment transport models). The bulk of the patience and skill associated with the iterative modeling procedure, according to Laurel, can be attributed to co-author Morgan Maglio. The intensive fieldwork, however, was actually part of Laurel’s dissertation work while at the University of Colorado a decade ago! Indeed, when we asked her about advice she might have for early-stage researchers, Laurel suggested embracing the reality that “research projects can have longer timescales than you ever anticipated, and that is not necessarily a bad thing”. She says that although those reams of field data she collected as a student had until now only factored into other written work in very minor ways, they clearly became incredibly important over time, as they began to be useful for calibrating the detailed simulation models and for synthesis with other data gradually being accumulated from the same system by other researchers.

If you are wondering what it’s like to do monthly fieldwork in the wilderness smack in the middle of the Everglades, well, we were too. And it sounds like the authors experienced adventures and challenges too numerous to list in full. For one thing, arriving at the field sites each month required a >1 hour ride on an airboat – which itself requires contracting out the expertise of a professional airboat driver. One of Laurel et al.’s drivers happened also to be contracted by the TV show CSI: Miami, but that’s a whole other story. And it turns out that when you are working in remote locations, from an airboat (and with alligators around to boot), there are many problems to anticipate that under normal circumstances would not be considered “problems” at all. Field planning involved addressing such questions as: What happens if we drop a tool and it instantly becomes lost in the muck? What if the fittings for sampling gear we’ve prepared in “civilization” don’t fit right when we arrive at the site? What if an alligator damages our equipment?... As might be expected, “duct tape and super glue saved us on numerous occasions”, Laurel says. And here’s the most unexpected challenge: Laurel claims that after living through both Midwestern winters and high-altitude Colorado, the coldest she has ever been was on one February airboat ride in the Everglades!

Coauthors Jud Harvey, Laurel Larsen, and Morgan Maglio (L to R) at the recent Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration Conference. One of Laurel’s mentors during her PhD was Diane McKnight, who put her in touch with former colleague Jud (of the USGS National Research Program). All three coauthors ended up working together for a short time at the USGS NRP in Reston, VA after Jud hired Laurel directly following her PhD. The rest, as they say, is history. (photo: Dave Krabbenhoft)

So, after all this and more, what did they find out? It turns out that there is strong evidence that it has been the curtailment of flow to the Everglades that is resulting in landscape-scale structural homogenization and decreased magnitude of nutrient redistribution. But despite the order-of-magnitude decrease in surface-water flow velocities, there remains patchiness in P concentrations, due to the heterogeneity of shallow subsurface flow paths through the remnant landscape. In Laurel’s words, “A key conclusion was that the process of differential hydrologic exchange through microtopography can produce substantial heterogeneity in nutrient distributions, even without plant-mediated evapotranspiration pulling nutrients in from the surroundings”. Flow, the master variable. Imagine that.

And so, as the FWS coauthors continue in their quest to understand the landscape ecology of the Everglades, they have joined a large team of scientists who are helping plan the first-ever managed flow releases into the Everglades (called the “Decompartmentalization Physical Model”, DPM; more info here). The DPM researchers are implementing a BACI sample design and planning adaptive management strategies based on effects of various flow releases. They’ll be looking at hydrology, sediment transport, biogeochemistry, and ecology of the ridge and slough area and hoping to restore function to the “River of Grass” – what Marjorie Stoneman Douglas called the historic flow-way through the Everglades. Ultimately, the goal is to stop the calamitous march towards homogeneity, and we SFSters will be looking on with great interest and enthusiasm.

Pam's Journal Notes

Pam's Corner

Since our journal changed from “JNABS” to Freshwater Science, the workload of journal editor Pam Silver and her assistants has been increasing significantly. That’s great news for the journal (more papers! better papers!) but hard work for the editorial staff. Here, Pam explains and shares with us some of the statistics of journal success.

In 2012, the Journal of the North American Benthological Society became Freshwater Science. The title change has been an unequivocal success. Submissions have increased 49%, from an average of 177/y (2009–2011) to 264/y (2012–2014). In response, the number of pages published in the journal increased 27% from an average of 1258/y (2009–2011) to 1600 in 2015.

The total time that [editorial assistant] Sheila Storms and I invest in an average accepted manuscript (MS) is ~25 hours, and we have been handling 2 MSs per week comfortably (think of this as jogging pace). Until November 2013, when the first wave of accepted papers from 2013 reached the editorial office, Sheila and I were editing final MSs within 2–3 weeks of receipt of acceptance by an Associate Editor, copy editing within the next 3 weeks, proof reading within 4 weeks, and the paper was printed in the next issue. In the last week of November 2013, nearly 15 MSs arrived on my desk to be edited. As of 4 May 2015, 15 MSs remain on my desk, even though 114 papers were published in 2014, and 76 have been published thus far in 2015. Twenty-six more await copy editing, and 7 are in proof stage. The total MSs handled in the 70 weeks since the end of November 2013 is 233 (3 per week; think of this as race pace). Sheila and I are working on MSs scheduled for publication in 3 issues simultaneously, and the average wait time from accept to publication ahead of print (AoP) has increased from 10 to 16 weeks (2013 vs 2014), even though total time from submission to publication AoP has not changed (because the review process is becoming more efficient).

Freshwater Science Cover

Long-standing backlogs are bad for journals because turn-around time is a key metric of journal performance, bad for authors whose careers often depend on timely publication of their work, and bad for editors who try to edit 3 issues simultaneously in an effort to make papers available AoP to compensate for printing delays. UCP in collaboration with the Editor (Pam Silver) and the journal’s Business Manager (Irwin Polls) have decided to clear the print backlog in 2016 by publishing 2100 pages, the ~1500 pages need to publish the ~118 accepted papers expected in 2015 and the ~600-page backlog.

Moreover, Sheila and I have committed to clearing the backlog to ahead-of-print by September 2015, the deadline for submission of copy for the December 2015 issue. Meeting this commitment will require that we process an average of 4 MSs per week this summer (now we’re at a sprint). We think we can achieve this goal because: 1) my teaching and service loads decrease significantly in summer and 2) the high quality of the papers we are receiving has made technical editing and copy editing much less time consuming (thank you!). Once the backlog is addressed, we expect to continue working at a 3 MS-per-week pace to keep up…but by then we will be marathon trained and ready for the heavier load.


ITD Q&A: Kurt Fausch

We thank long-time SFS member and Colorado State University professor Kurt Fausch for taking time out to catch us up on his brand new book, ‘For the Love of Rivers’.

For the Love of Rivers: A Scientist's Journey
Oregon State University Press 2015. 288 pp.
ISBN 978-0-87071-770-3
See also an entry from Kurt on the
OSU Press blog.

What appears to have happened here is that Kurt took a sabbatical leave from his post at Colorado State, spent several months in Writers’ Residencies at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology and the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, both in Oregon, and came out on the other side with a book. As you might glean from its title, For the Love of Rivers is not just about the ecology of streams. In the words of OSU Press, it also ‘celebrates their beauty and mystery’. We are lucky to have caught up with Kurt to ask him some probing questions about this mystery. Please note that in our unfortunate current state of booklessness, we generated many of the following questions based on a reading Kurt’s blog on the Sitka Center website, and all quotes in the questions are from that source.

ITD: As most SFS members are aware, you have spent a career using the scientific method to generate understanding about what you call the ‘essential nature’ of rivers and their biota. What inspired you to write a book that ventures significantly beyond science in the name of conservation?

KF: I think I have Jeremy Monroe of Freshwaters Illustrated to thank for that. The documentary RiverWebs which Jeremy directed and produced was widely shown on PBS (beamed to more than 100 million homes when he stopped getting data) and is widely used by SFS members. It dawned on me that if even 1% of the PBS audience turned it on and watched it, that I might also be able to reach this potentially large audience with a book that draws them into the world of aquatic ecologists and what we see every day. It seemed like a responsibility to try. Also, we didn’t have time to focus much on conservation in the RiverWebs documentary so I wanted to reach that endpoint in the book.

ITD: How did you tackle the daunting task of inspiring general (i.e., non-scientist) readers to see why rivers are essential, why ‘real rivers’ are a ‘gift’?

KF: I began by pondering the question of what might inspire the average interested reader to want to conserve streams, and why rivers and streams could be important to them. I was strongly influenced by recent books on science communication like Randy Olson’s Don’t be Such a Scientist and Nancy Baron’s Escape from the Ivory Tower. Combining that with Jeremy Monroe’s example of drawing people into a powerful story in RiverWebs, I decided to write a narrative account that would help readers understand that scientists are real people, that streams and rivers and their biota are in trouble, but also that there are essential values beyond water to drink and fish to catch that we humans count on from rivers.

ITD: Indeed, what is it about rivers that humans need the most?

KF: I found it fascinating to delve into other values that rivers provide, far beyond those I know well. For example, our big brains evolved on the plains of Africa, and evolutionary biologists theorize that we are genetically programmed to seek certain kinds of environments, including rivers and lakes and their riparian zones, that were critical to our survival as early humans. Likewise, environmental psychologists and scientists who study human attraction to sounds and sights have shown that the sound of running water is the most preferred sound they tested, and can calm us and heal us (based on objective measures of physiology and well-being). These sights and sounds also may be critical in promoting creativity and hence good decisions, and I argue might be even more important than faster computers, for example. As aquatic ecologists, I think it could be important for us to keep these values in mind as added aspects that support conservation and restoration goals.

ITD: Can we expect to see some or all of the text from your Sitka Center blog included in the book? How did writing this blog-essay inform your book-writing process, if at all?

KF: I wrote that essay in fall 2011, just as I was beginning to write the book, and ideas from it ended up in several key chapters in the book. Writers will tell you that you often find your message through writing, and at first I found this preposterous. How many times had I told students that they needed to postpone writing until the message was clear in their minds and they had outlined the entire piece. But in this kind of writing “finding your message” really does happen, and happened for me. I discovered the worth of ideas, and the cadence for chapters, through writing ideas in essays and drafts. Just as artists do studies of various scenes they draw or paint, and musicians develop compositions through creative practice, so too does this kind of writing develop and evolve as you try on ideas and put words to paper.

ITD: You’ve quoted Aldo Leopold about ecologists ‘living alone in a world of wounds’ in Riverwebs and also in a book trailer that Freshwaters Illustrated produced (this one). Is one purpose of the book to show non-scientists this viewpoint?

KF: Yes, Aldo Leopold set a standard for narrative non-fiction writing about ethics and values related to natural ecosystems that probably no one else will ever achieve. I ended up re-reading his books I had read in graduate school and reading anew everything by him that I could find that had been published since (as well as many books by other authors). And, yes, my goal was to draw people into a story, and show them what we as ecologists see every day – the beauty, mystery, importance, and loss of the aquatic ecosystems we study and manage.

This is the man with the book. (photo: Dave Herasimtschuk @Freshwaters Illustrated)

ITD: Using the word ‘Love’ in a title must have been a bit of a stretch for a person who has spent a career as a scientist. How did you mentally process / consider possible titles for the book and converge on including ‘love’?

KF: That this was a stretch is understatement! The title of the book still frightens me. The first title I thought of was already used (Rivers for Life by Sandra Postel and Brian Richter), and the one I had settled on originally seemed useful but too safe. But after I titled the key chapter “For the Love of Rivers,” then this kept nagging at me as the title that the book needed to have, as bold as it seemed. Even worse (better?), Jeremy somehow convinced me that the best cover photo of those Freshwaters Illustrated photographer Dave Herasimtschuk took was the one with me front and center. Never would I have imagined using such a bold title or cover image! Nevertheless, others seem to like them, so in the end I think we made the right choices.

ITD: It is quite likely that many of us SFSters study aquatic environments because we actually do love them. How would you suggest we convey this without fear of being ‘banished from the academy of serious scholars’?

KF: I’m not sure, but here are some thoughts. It seems to me that it is not only artists and musicians who do what they do because they love their subjects and their work. Do not doctors dedicate their entire careers to helping people out of a sense of love? Do not engineers do the same because they believe mankind will be better off if we have safe buildings, roads, and water infrastructure? Do not athletes play “for the love of the game”? David Orr, in his essay “Love” (see his collection titled Hope is an Imperative: the Essential David Orr) writes that people gravitate toward our field, and any field, out of this sense of love, and that we had better start to understand why if we seek a future for our discipline. Stephen Jay Gould wrote in a famous essay that we only save what we love. Leopold writes of love, as did Baba Dioum after him. These were all serious scholars and conservationists, so perhaps we too might find the courage to walk the fine line where we do serious science and policy, but help people understand that rivers offer humans values that only love can describe.

I think it is also important to be specific about what kind of love we are talking about here. My friend and colleague David O’Hara who teaches Classics and Philosophy at Augustana College reminded me that our English language is depauperate in that we have only one word to describe love. Of the four in the Greek language, the one that fits best here is agape, in which one seeks good things for the beloved rather than for oneself.

In the end, would you wish for anyone that they work for things other than those that they love?

SFS Bibliography request from Mark Wetzel

As your SFS Bibliography editor (and chair of the Lit Review Committee), Mark is working diligently to compile ALL historical originals and/or copies of MBS and NABS annual literature review compilations, and he needs our help locating some years. Here's what he has to say:

I am preparing an historical perspective highlighting the birth of the long-standing Literature Review Committee, to include the names of all committee members and the sections for which they served as compilers, and their tenure. Following are the years (date printed on the front cover) for which I need copies/originals: 1965–1974; 1981, 1984, 1984. I would appreciate receiving any of these from members willing to share them with me (temporarily or permanently). It's important, as these years are missing from my archival file cabinets!

Email Mark with any information: mjwetzel@illinois.edu


(And click here for the latest news from the Lit Review Committee.)

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.
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  • 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...

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