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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology 4 Education in Limnology: Current Status and Recommendations for Improvement Will society be capable of better managing its water resources to ensure a high quality of life for future generations? The answer to this question will depend in large part on the strength of the educational system for freshwater science. Knowledge is transferred to the practitioners of the future primarily at colleges and universities, and it is there that much of the new knowledge needed to solve problems of inland aquatic ecosystems is developed. Colleges and universities need to provide more opportunities for future water managers to learn about limnology during their undergraduate years. Society also has to ensure that the science of limnology continues to advance via a consistently funded research program because limnology is a critical component of the scientific foundations necessary for understanding the risks and benefits of water management decisions. The challenge for colleges and universities is to meet these needs by training well-qualified professional limnologists and by providing training in limnology within other academic programs that produce aquatic resource managers, planners, and field technicians. Also needed are leaders and citizens familiar with the basic principles of limnology. Educational programs in limnology therefore must meet three goals: (1) education of future research scientists who will work to advance the understanding of aquatic ecosystems, (2) education of future leaders who will determine policies and actions that affect freshwater ecosystems, and (3) education of responsible citizens who will value freshwater ecosystems and understand water resource issues. This chapter describes the current educational system in
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology limnology and recommends strategies for improving it to meet these three goals. LIMNOLOGY UNDER THE CURRENT EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM Limnology programs at American colleges and universities are highly fragmented across departments. Ironically, the main cause of this fragmentation is derived from one of the strengths of limnology as a science: it is highly interdisciplinary. As a result, limnology lacks a single "home" in the university system. Instead, limnologists and the limnology-related courses they teach are housed in a variety of departments, such as biology, civil engineering, geology, zoology, and many others. For example, 69 universities surveyed for this report indicated that faculty working in limnology and related disciplines are housed in 23 different types of departments (see Chapter 2 and Appendix A). The diversity in academic homes for limnologists applies within individual universities as well as among universities. For example, at the University of Minnesota, limnologists are found in at least eight departments housed in five different colleges on the Twin Cities campus. Only two universities surveyed for this report have departments that include the name "limnology": one is a department of marine science and limnology; the other is a department of zoology and limnology. While some interdisciplinary fields, such as oceanography, soil science, and forestry, have departments or schools of their own, academic limnology remains scattered and lacks well-defined degree programs. One result of the scattering of limnology courses across departments and the lack of named degree programs is that limnology graduates produced by the various "nonlimnology" departments often lack knowledge of some critical subfields of limnology (such as physical limnology) or of the characteristics of the full range of aquatic ecosystems (streams and wetlands as well as lakes). Another result is that limnology faculty may not be replaced upon retirement if the department in which they are housed chooses to shift its emphasis elsewhere. This redirection may diminish the breadth of a university's offerings in limnology or even eliminate the university's limnology program altogether. Undergraduate Education in Limnology Under the Current System The fragmentation of limnological studies is especially a problem at the undergraduate level. Colleges and universities in the United States generally do not offer formal undergraduate majors specifically identified as "limnology." Students who enter this field often stumble across it accidentally by signing up for a limnology course as an elective within
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology another major. A few schools, such as the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point (see Box 4-1), offer a limnology emphasis within a water resources major. In general, however, undergraduate students' options for studying limnology are limited to enrolling in aquatic science courses while pursuing BOX 4-1 LIMNOLOGY AND FISHERIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN–STEVENS POINT The University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, offers B.S. degrees in water resources with an option to specialize in limnology and fisheries. The limnology and fisheries program is part of the nondepartmentalized College of Natural Resources, which employs faculty to support major curricula in five areas: water resources, forestry, wildlife management, soils, and natural resources. The integrated nature of the program makes access to faculty across various disciplines more convenient than if the college were divided into departments. The curriculum in limnology and fisheries is as follows: Courses to meet university general degree requirements (22 percent of course work): English; history; communications; humanities; social science. Courses in common with all students in the College of Natural Resources (17 percent of course work): introduction to natural resources; introduction to water resources; introduction to soil resources; introduction to forestry; introduction to wildlife ecology; land surveying; field experiences in forest measurement; soil conservation and watershed inventory techniques; field experience in soil inventory techniques; field experience in aquatic ecosystem evaluation; field experience in wildlife management techniques; integrated resource management seminar. Courses in common with other water resource majors (29 percent of course work): limnology; water chemistry and analysis; general chemistry; applied physics; botany; zoology; general ecology; computer applications. Professional courses in limnology and fisheries (32 percent of course work): hydrology; pollution ecology; limnology and fisheries research; fisheries management; resource economics or principles of macroeconomics; organic chemistry survey; genetics; animal or human physiology; aquatic invertebrate zoology or aquatic insects; ichthyology; calculus; statistics. Electives (one course): algology; aquatic insects; ecology of freshwater benthic organisms; ground water geochemistry; aquatic vascular plants; aquatic invertebrate zoology; life history and population dynamics of fish. The university offers one senior-level limnology course per semester. It is a capstone course that explores the chemistry, physics, and biology of inland aquatic systems. N. Earl Spangenberg, Professor University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology another major such as biology, botany, ecology, geology, zoology, geography, or (more recently) environmental studies. Because of the lack of comprehensive limnology programs, students who develop an interest in limnology during their undergraduate careers may lack guidance on the appropriate mix of courses to prepare them for further work in this field. Where limnology classes are offered and visible to students, they are usually popular. For example, at the University of Colorado, Boulder (see Box 4-2), demand for the limnology class always exceeds the enrollment limit of 75 students. Of the 69 universities surveyed for this report, 38 responded that student interest in limnology is increasing, 17 responded that interest is holding steady, and only 2 reported declining interest (see Appendix A). Opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in field and laboratory research in limnology typically are very limited. At some universities, field and laboratory programs are essentially nonexistent, eliminating one of the key ways that students have been attracted to limnology. Of the 69 U.S. universities surveyed for this report, 40 reported having access to research or field stations (see Appendix A), but the degree to which these research sites are available to undergraduate students is often limited. Universities rarely allocate sufficient funding and laboratory space to offer laboratory and/or field work for all interested undergraduate students. For example, because of lack of laboratory space and funding at the University of Colorado, only a few students can enroll in the laboratory portion of the limnology course (see Box 4-2). In contrast, Canada's Trent University (see Box 4-3) has invested heavily in field experiences for limnology students, offering a two-semester limnology course in which the second semester is devoted to field experiments. Recently, Trent University has been forced to cut back on its field and laboratory program: although the course had an enrollment of 120 students in 1993, the university limited enrollment to 48 in the following year because of staff reductions. In addition to having limited opportunities for field and laboratory research, undergraduates lack opportunities to learn about streams and wetlands, at least in most introductory limnology courses. For example, in five major limnology textbooks published over six decades, about 6 percent of the pages are devoted to wetlands, and about 7 percent cover streams (see Table 4-1). Creating a major in limnology may not be necessary for every university interested in increasing its strength in this science. For example, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, recognized as one of the leading U.S. graduate schools of limnology, does not offer a formal undergraduate degree in limnology. Instead, students gain exposure to limnology through well-supported interdisciplinary programs and highly visible introductory limnology courses, in which enrollment typically exceeds
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology BOX 4-2 LIMNOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO, BOULDER The University of Colorado's teaching program in limnology extends back to 1940, when Robert W. Pennak, a student of Chancey Juday (see Chapter 2), joined the faculty. Pennak developed an introductory course in limnology that served approximately 25 students at the time of his retirement in 1974. In addition, he developed a course in stream biology and initiated a graduate program in limnology. Complementary courses were offered by an invertebrate zoologist, John Bushnell, and a fish biologist, John T. Windell. These three positions constituted the biology department's investment in aquatic studies, out of a total faculty of 20. Pennak's course originally had a laboratory. The enrollment pressure grew after 1974, however, and because the university was unable to provide teaching assistants or equipment for enlargement of the laboratory, the laboratory and lecture were split. Enrollment in the lecture is limited to 75; the laboratory is taught separately and reaches fewer students. Today, the biology department still has one limnologist and an invertebrate zoologist on the tenure-track faculty, as well as an open position that could go to a fish biologist but could also be transmuted into something else. In terms of aquatic faculty strength, the university thus is more or less where it stood in 1950, although the biology department has now grown to 46 faculty. The university's formal course work offerings in limnology, especially the laboratory component, are still inadequate. The limnology course serves both graduate and undergraduate students; graduate students receive additional personal contact and are asked to complete additional readings and written work. Although this is not an ideal pedagogical device, the approach works reasonably well for many graduate students. In 1985, the university created the Center for Limnology to recognize its strength in limnological research. The center, which has a modest staff and several postdoctoral associates, provides a home for limnologists, including undergraduates. In about 1980, the university initiated an internship program that allows recent graduates with B.S. degrees who have a professional interest in limnology to be employed for one or two years in a technical capacity by the Center for Limnology. William M. Lewis, Jr., Professor University of Colorado, Boulder 120 (see Box 4-4). Although a limnology major may not be a necessary option at every school or even at most schools, the visibility and cohesiveness of teaching in limnology nevertheless need to be increased so that undergraduate students are aware of the opportunity to specialize in freshwater studies. Otherwise, students too often will learn about limnology by stumbling across it accidentally, instead of recognizing it early as a possible profession.
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology BOX 4-3 LIMNOLOGY AT TRENT UNIVERSITY Limnology, offered in the third year of undergraduate studies, is a core course for the Departments of Biology and Environmental Resource Studies at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. The course is offered annually and runs for the full year. There are two weekly presentations, one of which is given by a guest lecturer. In addition to several faculty with aquatic interests, Trent has access to the Ontario Ministry of Environment and the National Water Research Institute, with adjunct faculty from both groups. Every second week, the course includes laboratories that alternate between field trips and analytical sessions. Students sample lakes, streams, ponds, and rivers in fall, winter, and spring. The university's location, on the Otonabee River in the heart of the Kawartha Lakes area, makes this feasible despite large enrollments. (At the course's peak, each field trip and laboratory was repeated six times.) Students perform analytical work in teams, and all members have access to the team's collective data set. Manuscript-style reports are required following each analytical session. In spring, students carry out their own projects, pursuing their own hypotheses with their own experimental design and writing up a final project report. Students are required to use the primary literature in designing, interpreting, and discussing their results. In addition, in their fourth year, students are allowed to operate research equipment and have the opportunity to pursue research-oriented honors projects, which typically result in an honors thesis. Prerequisites for the limnology course include general biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, and math (either calculus or statistics) in the first year and ecology in the second year. A number of electives in chemistry, math, geology, and biology are also available, and students are encouraged to select broadly based programs rather than narrowly specialized ones. A high proportion of Trent graduates receives fellowships to pursue graduate work. David Schindler, Professor University of Alberta, Edmonton Graduate Education in Limnology Under the Current System Limnologists currently receive advanced degrees through a variety of departments—most often biology but also a range of other departments, as discussed above and documented in Appendix A. For example, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Box 4-4), students may obtain M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in aquatic science through three interdepartmental, interdisciplinary graduate programs; and at least nine traditional academic departments offer advanced degrees with specialization in some aspect of aquatic science. At the University of Alabama, students obtain graduate degrees in aquatic ecology primarily through the biology depart-
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology TABLE 4-1 Coverage of Streams and Wetlands in Five Limnology Texts Pages Author Date Title Total Text Streams Wetlands Welch 1935 Limnology 394 30 4 Ruttner 1963 Fundamentals of Limnology 249 22 6 Cole 1983 Textbook of Limnology 412 26 3 Wetzel 1983 Limnology 753 25 91 Horne and Goldman 1994 Limnology 520 51 24 Total 2,260 154 128 Percentage of total 100 6.8 5.7 NOTE: Material judged to cover streams and wetlands excludes occasional brief mention in sections emphasizing lakes. ment, which has strong connections with the geology department. At Dartmouth, limnology graduate study is through the environmental studies, biology, or geology departments. At the University of Minnesota, limnology graduate students reside in departments of ecology, geology, and civil engineering and the College of Natural Resources, as well as occasionally in other departments or colleges (such as plant biology and public health). Limnology graduate students at Arizona State are housed in the zoology department. As a consequence of this range of departmental settings, limnology graduate programs are quite diverse, both among universities and within them (depending on which department within the university grants the degree). Although the varied nature of the departments in which limnologists pursue their graduate degrees reflects the multidisciplinary nature of the science, it also poses problems with regard to integration of knowledge across disciplines and types of aquatic ecosystems. Individual programs in discipline-based departments are not likely to cover all of the subdisciplines of limnology. For example, students who obtain limnology degrees through biology departments might have strong training in fields such as organismal physiology but much weaker knowledge of water chemistry and physical limnology. On the other hand, limnology students with degrees from civil and environmental engineering departments may have strong training in water chemistry or hydrology but relatively little knowledge of the organisms that inhabit aquatic systems. Limnology students typically do not receive adequate training across the major types of aquatic ecosystems (wetlands, streams, and lakes). Another problem resulting from the fragmentation of graduate programs in limnology among departments is that their success often hinges on the presence of one or a few strong professors, housed in departments whose focus is not limnology or even aquatic or environmental science. This reliance on one or a few individuals leaves graduate programs at
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology BOX 4-4 LIMNOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON The University of Wisconsin-Madison, provides extensive opportunities for the study of limnology, building on a long history in this field. For graduate studies, there are three programs—Oceanography and Limnology, Water Resources Management, and Water Chemistry—that provide degrees in aquatic sciences, along with at least nine traditional departments (including the departments of zoology, botany, meteorology, and entomology) that offer specialization in some aspect of aquatic science in their advanced degree programs. On average, more than 15 graduate degrees are awarded in limnology across campus annually through the three aquatic programs and the traditional departments. For undergraduate students, there are no formal degree programs in limnology aside from a certification in environmental studies. Undergraduate students can, however, specialize to a large extent in aquatic sciences in several degree programs. More than 40 faculty members in at least nine departments at the university are specialists in aquatic science. More than 30 limnology-related courses, mostly at advanced levels, are taught on campus each year. Topics include water chemistry, wetland vegetation, aquatic organisms (fish, insects, phytoplankton, zooplankton, bacteria), geology, and physical limnology. Introductory-level limnology courses are taught each year during the fall semester and also during most summer sessions. Both courses are popular; the fall lecture course routinely attracts more than 120 students. Lectures are taught along with an optional, smaller-enrollment laboratory course. The introductory courses are intended to provide a basic introduction to limnology and cover geological, physical, chemical, and biological aspects of aquatic investigations with an emphasis on lake studies and human impacts on aquatic ecosystems. Students with strong career interests in limnology are encouraged to enroll in more advanced courses and to participate in research programs at the university and its field facilities. Limnology at the University of Wisconsin has long had a tradition of emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of the science. Collaboration among departments and between engineering and science programs is facilitated by the organization of the university, which provides strong support for the work of limnologists, as demonstrated most recently by the creation in 1992 of the Center for Limnology. Thomas M. Frost, Associate Director University of Wisconsin, Center for Limnology
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology risk of being closed when a professor retires or moves (see Chapter 2 and Box 4-5). Improving Education in Limnology: The Basis for Reform In summary, the current status of limnological education in North America is unsatisfactory. Individual programs generally are very small BOX 4-5 LIMNOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON Prior to 1986, graduate students at the University of Washington who wanted to do research in limnology for a Ph.D. or M.S. degree took a course called Limnology in the Department of Zoology and assembled supporting courses from a variety of departments. The course was also taken as background by many graduate students in the College (now School) of Fisheries who were working on projects in fresh water. Undergraduates also could use Limnology as one of the optional courses for their major or for distribution credits; the course was required for fisheries undergraduates in the freshwater option. A course on limnology was taught at Washington for the first time in 1923 by Trevor Kincaid; mine started in 1949. The course included three lectures and two three-hour laboratory sessions per week for a quarter for five credits. Later, it was split into a lecture course with no limit on enrollment and a laboratory course with a nominal limit of 20. Students at all levels had plenty of supporting courses to choose from, including a graduate seminar, Topics in Limnology. Appropriate courses were also offered by the Departments of Oceanography, Fisheries, Botany, Civil Engineering, and Statistics. Later, an interdisciplinary Center for Streamside Studies was created. After retirement in 1986, the Department of Zoology took the occasion to review its educational responsibilities to the College of Arts and Sciences. It was recognized that the department was outstanding in the field of ecology, including limnology, but some other fields needed to be updated to maintain the quality of the department as a whole. To keep limnology as a part of the departmental program until a faculty position could be reinstated, the faculty decided to offer the course at intervals with visiting professors. Negotiations for a fourth session were postponed in 1993 after a general decrease in state funding. Through 1995, there was no course at the University of Washington that gave the kind of one-package overview that the original limnology course did, but courses in various aspects of freshwater aquatic ecology were available in the departments mentioned above. In 1996, the university hired a new, full-time assistant professor to resume the limnology course. W. T. Edmondson, Emeritus Professor University of Washington
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology and spread in an uncoordinated fashion among several departments in a given university. Each program deals with the field in only a fragmentary manner. Taken as a whole, these programs can be criticized as representing less than the sum of the component parts. Overall, the present status is reflective neither of the needs of society nor of the vitality and comprehensiveness of this science. To provide the training essential for limnologists to deal with future water problems, limnological education must be expanded and improved. Undergraduate programs should be developed, and graduate programs should be strengthened. Curricular enhancements are needed to ensure that students are exposed to the broad range of subdisciplines comprising this field and that they are encouraged to integrate this knowledge into a holistic understanding of how inland aquatic ecosystems function. In addition, administrative changes are necessary to improve coordination among the limnologists housed in a variety of departments and colleges of major universities or to bring them together under a single program or department. STRENGTHENING LIMNOLOGY THROUGH ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS Enhancement of limnological education first and foremost is a matter of curriculum reform, and most of the remainder of this chapter deals with such issues. As indicated in previous chapters of this report, educational programs in limnology need to be broad, encompassing the essentials of the many scientific disciplines that contribute to an understanding of how aquatic ecosystems function; they also need to be integrative and rigorous. A diverse faculty committed to these ideals is prerequisite to the establishment and maintenance of programs that combine these features, but the practical realities of modern universities also must be taken into account if such programs are to succeed. In particular, the administrative structures in which academic programs are housed can be critical to their success and even their survival. Large research universities do not operate as completely amorphous entities in which students (and their advisers) are free to design individual degree programs cafeteria-style from course catalogs. Rather, university curricula are structured around degree programs that most commonly are associated with departments, which are further organized by broad disciplines into schools and colleges. University resources—faculty, funds for teaching assistants and support staff, classrooms, laboratories, and space for research and offices—generally are allocated along collegiate and departmental lines. In designing better educational programs for limnology, faculty limnologists (and university administrators) thus need to consider what sorts of administrative structures will promote and maintain the necessary
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology curricular reforms and provide the financial resources to maintain high-quality programs. Two broad administrative paths are (1) to establish departments of aquatic science in which limnology is a major focus at a few American universities on a regional basis and (2) to create strong interdisciplinary, interdepartmental programs in aquatic science at other universities. Each option has certain advantages and limitations, and the approach that is chosen will depend on the faculty and leadership of a university, as well as on existing strengths and circumstances within the university. Limnologists and university leaders will face challenges in pursuing either of the paths. The political strength in most universities lies within established departments, and existing departments may object to the creation of new departments or programs that are perceived as siphoning off their resources. Nevertheless, the interdisciplinary approach of limnology is consistent with current trends in modern science, which is becoming more and more interdisciplinary as the fundamental principles of individual sciences become increasingly understood and as scientists discover critical links among disciplines. Educational institutions need to find ways to support interdisciplinary programs and reward those who engage in interdisciplinary work, even if it challenges the existing system. Scientists in interdisciplinary fields need to find ways to convince their colleagues that their programs and work are worth supporting. Departments of Aquatic Science Creating strong academic departments of aquatic science in one or a few universities in each region of the country would serve to create centers of strength for this science. Such departments could provide comprehensive majors in limnology, as well as other fields of aquatic science, for both undergraduate and graduate students (M.S. and Ph.D.). Although a few universities already have strong interdepartmental graduate aquatic science programs, very few have undergraduate programs. Although interdepartmental undergraduate majors in other fields can be found at some major universities, by far the majority of bachelor's degree programs are housed within traditional departments. The interdepartmental approach, which is inherently less structured, may be less satisfactory for undergraduate degree programs than for graduate programs. Moreover, the geographic coverage of existing interdepartmental graduate programs is highly inadequate, and even the best of the existing programs tends to focus on producing research-oriented specialists in specific subareas of a field rather than the broadly trained practitioners and managers that represent the bulk of the human resource needs in water resource management. Several European universities have ''institutes of limnology" that are
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology stream, lake, and wetland ecosystems and a broad knowledge of physical, chemical, and biological processes in aquatic systems. The formal course component for a master's degree should cover the following broad topics directly related to inland aquatic ecosystems: limnology, integrating physical, chemical, and biological processes across lakes, streams, and wetlands; aquatic biology; aquatic chemistry and biogeochemistry; and hydrology, geomorphology, and physical limnology. The specific mix of courses appropriate for a given student will depend on the student's educational background. For example, students with undergraduate degrees in biology may need introductory courses in aquatic chemistry and physical limnology, and those with degrees in hydrology or environmental engineering may need introductory courses in aquatic biology. Even as more universities create strong interdisciplinary undergraduate programs in aquatic science, and even if some universities create limnology majors for undergraduates, master's degree programs will have to maintain flexibility to accommodate the varied backgrounds of students. Some of the most prominent limnologists have stumbled on this field from unusual pathways, and master's degree programs should be open to accepting students who do not "discover" limnology until the end of their undergraduate years. Although aquatic science courses should be the key focus of a master's program in limnology, students should be encouraged to select supporting courses that provide additional technical expertise and insights about the societal context for limnology. Such courses include, for example, environmental law, decisionmaking, management, policy, and economics, as well as advanced courses in chemistry, biology, statistics, and geology. The master's program should also provide training in special skills such as experimental design, modeling, and trend analysis. Finally, the development of good communication skills (writing and public speaking) is essential. Limnologists must be able to communicate effectively not only with other scientists but also with the concerned public. M.S. programs must provide a variety of opportunities for students to develop these skills. At the master's level, there are several possible lines of further specialization. One specialization would be in aquatic biology, with advanced courses in subjects such as biodiversity, taxonomy of a major group of organisms, or trophic dynamics. Another common specialization would be in chemical limnology, with advanced study in biogeochemical cycling, surface chemistry, photochemistry, or contaminant transformations. Master's degree programs should include a field component. This requirement will ensure that students have mastered a range of basic field skills for
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology collecting samples and making measurements such as stream flow, water transparency, and dissolved oxygen levels. Field experience also provides students with an appreciation for the difficulty of collecting data and a healthy skepticism for data that they may encounter in future jobs. Experience at a field station is an excellent way to obtain this training, but it can also be accomplished as part of a laboratory for a graduate-level limnology course. A thesis or practical project is a highly important component of a master's degree because it provides students the experience of initiating, carrying out, and completing a project of their own. A thesis is valuable even for students who do not plan to become researchers because it provides an opportunity to learn about the nature of research and a perspective for evaluating studies conducted by others. On the other hand, these students could benefit equally from being given a practical problem to solve, applying the skills they have developed in formal classes to develop a solution, and writing and presenting their suggested course of action. Such experience also might be gained through a formal internship, part of which would be dedicated to developing a written solution to a practical problem at the organization in which the student is interning. Exceptions to the requirement for a thesis or practical project may be appropriate for M.S. students who already have substantial project or research experience through postbaccalaureate work experience, but in general, "course-work-only" graduate programs that are mere extensions of an undergraduate experience should not be promoted in limnology. Programs for the Ph.D. Degree Doctoral training is necessary for those who will lead or manage scientific research investigations, either independently or as part of a team. Jobs that generally require a Ph.D. include faculty positions in academic institutions, many research scientist positions in government agencies or private research centers, and program officers in federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, and National Biological Service. Many consulting firms also hire Ph.D.-level scientists for the expertise and added credibility they bring to the job. Ph.D. programs should require broad knowledge of all the subdisciplines of limnology—that is, at least the equivalent of the knowledge base expected of M.S. students, including field and laboratory experience. To distinguish themselves, Ph.D. students should develop an area of specialization within their major field. Also valuable is expertise in an analytical specialty such as sediment dating, genetic analysis (using, for example, the polymerase chain reaction), or model development (using, for example, geographic information systems combined with mathematical models).
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology As in any other scientific discipline, the major component of a Ph.D. program in limnology is the thesis research project. The Ph.D. student must propose an appropriate area of research (within funding constraints), develop a plan for conducting the research, carry out the study, analyze the data, and write a detailed account of the project in a dissertation. The final step of the dissertation is publication of key results in scientific journals in order to communicate findings to the broad community of aquatic scientists. Ph.D. students also must develop skills in written and oral communication and in collaborative research. Experience in giving technical presentations to describe research findings is essential. Teaching experience is valuable because the ability to teach and convey information is an increasingly important skill in all job markets. Professors should provide opportunities for their Ph.D. students to conduct a portion of their thesis research as part of a team, perhaps including students working in related disciplines. Finally, Ph.D. students should have training in writing and reviewing research proposals. More so than in educating B.S. and master's degree candidates, mentoring plays a critical role in the training of Ph.D. scientists. Many of the skills required of high-level scientists, such as identifying promising research areas and developing proposals to pursue this research, cannot be taught in the classroom but are learned by apprenticeship. The stream ecology program at Arizona State University, described in Box 4-14, provides one example of a strong mentoring system. In addition to mentoring, however, Ph.D. programs need structure within the academic institution; a program that relies solely on the presence of one or two professors who serve as mentors is at risk of being eliminated if these professors retire or move to another institution. Postdoctoral Programs For those who have completed a Ph.D. and plan to pursue a research career, a common next step is a postdoctoral position before an academic faculty or government appointment. Ideally, postdoctoral work should be completed at an institution where the graduate can broaden his or her skills and gain new perspectives. Mentoring relationships may continue to be important for postdoctoral researchers, but the obligation of senior scientists to provide a supportive learning environment recedes to some extent. The postdoctoral researcher has responsibility for developing research opportunities and broadening scientific collaborations and interactions. Postdoctoral scientists may accept positions to carry out research programs, or some part of research programs, that have been developed and funded by senior scientists. These positions could provide an opportunity to develop management
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology BOX 4-14 EDUCATION THROUGH MENTORING: STREAM ECOLOGY AT ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY Training of Ph.D. students in stream ecology at Arizona State University relies on a mentoring system. My colleague, Nancy Grimm, and I spend one evening a week with students at our home. We cook and eat dinner with the students, discuss papers in an organized way, plan research, and contemplate issues such as where to get funding, appropriate ethics in science, barriers to minorities, and career options. We encourage students of stream ecology to take courses in limnology, ecosystems, fluvial geomorphology, and statistics and to select a broad range of courses in ecology (for example, physiological ecology and evolutionary ecology). In addition, we encourage students to participate regularly in topical and departmental seminars. However, as with many small universities (or in this case, small programs in large universities), there is no written, formal aquatic curriculum. Faculty advisers approve student course selections based on (1) the expectation that they will become broadly trained ecologists and (2) their research needs. To be successful, students need to learn how to identify and solve problems, how to stay informed, and where to go to gain new, relevant skills. Highly structured curricula will not automatically provide this without sound mentoring. The program is predicated on the assumption that there are two issues in the education of Ph.D. scientists: technical training and idea development. The former should be enhanced and will respond to curricular revision. The latter is as important and will not necessarily respond to a longer list of required formal courses. The future leaders of the field will continue to come from those places where students are engaged by active, demanding, caring mentors. Stuart Fisher, Professor Arizona State University skills that might not have been obtained in an individually designed Ph.D. project. At universities, postdoctoral positions, which are often vital to research programs, are typically supported by grants to faculty members. The National Research Council (NRC) postdoctoral program has been effective in bringing young scientists to federal research facilities. These scientists benefit the agencies by bringing new or advanced techniques to federal laboratories, from which they may be disseminated further for application in operating offices of the agencies. Postdoctoral scientists also enhance interactions between federal agencies and academic institutions. Funding for NRC postdoctoral positions is often vulnerable to tight budgets within the agencies, however. Federal agencies with responsibilities for water
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology resources need to invigorate their NRC postdoctoral programs with an emphasis on inland aquatic ecosystem research. ROLE OF FIELD RESEARCH SITES IN AQUATIC SCIENCE EDUCATION As emphasized in this chapter, field research is a critical part of education in limnology. Although the principles of how aquatic ecosystems operate can be learned in classrooms, hands-on experience is the only way to gain a true appreciation for the complexities of aquatic systems. Field experience is essential not only for graduate students, who may themselves become scientific researchers and aquatic resource managers, but also for undergraduate students, who benefit greatly from a firsthand understanding of how aquatic systems operate, from learning scientific research methods, and from the atmosphere at field research sites, which is distinctly different from the on-campus atmosphere. Students can become completely immersed in their field study and can interact with scientists as members of a team. Many employers place a high value on field experience. It is highly unfortunate that field experience in limnology is extremely limited for undergraduates at U.S. universities. Opportunities are relatively limited even for graduate students to obtain experience with a diversity of aquatic ecosystems at field stations or in organized field courses. Field research sites and stations have contributed significantly to the collection of long-term limnological data, interdisciplinary research, and experimental manipulation of large-scale aquatic ecosystems. Efforts to expand the educational mission of such sites and stations should be encouraged. Encouraging a mix of research and educational activities at a field station may provide a more stable funding base to maintain the station than would exist if it focused solely on one of these activities. Some field stations do offer opportunities for student research experience (see the background paper "The Role of Major Research Centers in the Study of Inland Aquatic Ecosystems" at the end of this report). A few examples include the Trout Lake Station, associated with the University of Wisconsin–Madison; the Lake Itasca Forestry and Biological Station, affiliated with the University of Minnesota; the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center; the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest, which has a major stream study component and is associated with Oregon State University and the U.S. Forest Service; the Center for Great Lakes
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology Studies (see Box 4-15), part of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee; and Canada's Experimental Lakes Area (described in Chapter 5), which is affiliated with U.S. as well as Canadian universities. According to the Organization of Biological Field Stations, 103 biologi BOX 4-15 RESEARCH AND TEACHING AT THE CENTER FOR GREAT LAKES STUDIES The Center for Great Lakes Studies, part of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, is housed in a large warehouse that has been converted to a high-tech research facility on Milwaukee Harbor, one of the major Great Lakes ports. The center operates the 71-foot research vessel Neeskay, as well as several smaller boats for estuarine and near-shore sampling. It is also home port to the R/V Roger Simons and the winter port of the Lake Guardian, both operated by the Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes National Program Office. Specific research capabilities include instrumentation for water analysis; a radioisotope laboratory for dating sediment cores; modern molecular biological facilities; and a state-of-the-art, computer-interfaced video microscopic system for behavioral studies of plankton. Two full-time chemical and instrument technicians are responsible for day-to-day maintenance and the training of new users. Research at the center involves undergraduate and graduate students in all activities, from field collections, to laboratory analyses, to interpretation. The facilities used for these research projects are available for undergraduate independent research projects as well as graduate dissertation research. Many of the research labs are also used for demonstrating techniques in laboratory courses, giving students exposure to modern equipment and techniques. Examples of research projects at the center include the following: • Coastal dynamics: Center researchers continuously measure and plot the spatial distribution of chemicals and organisms in the water. These data can be compared with satellite images of the area in a geographic information system to provide a broad picture of the regional distribution of these variables. Access to such real-time data provides a powerful teaching tool for field courses. • Underwater robotics: Center researchers have been involved in developing instrumentation and robots for obtaining underwater samples and in conducting underwater experiments. • Microorganisms in sediments: Center researchers are studying the activity and genetic characteristics of microorganisms in Lake Michigan sediments that play important roles as sinks for atmospheric methane and as potential consumers of environmental contamination. Arthur Brooks, Professor Center for Great Lakes Studies
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology Fish sampling done as part of routine analyses of a group of LTER lakes. SOURCE: Thomas M. Frost, University of Wisconsin, Trout Lake Station. cal field stations either currently have, or have the potential for, aquatic science research and education. In addition, the National Science Foundation supports a network of field sites, listed in Table 4-2, through its Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program; most of these sites include an aquatic research component, and four (North Temperate Lakes for lakes and Hubbard Brook, Coweeta, and Andrews for streams) have long histories of advancing knowledge in limnology. Educational opportunities at field stations should be improved in several ways: More undergraduates should be encouraged to take advantage of field stations or other outdoor laboratories as part of their general education in aquatic science. For example, more stations could develop short courses or workshops specifically for undergraduates. Universities with on-campus aquatic resources (lakes, streams, or wetlands) could establish their own outdoor laboratory programs for undergraduates. The range of ecosystem types and the geographic distribution of field stations should be expanded to encompass a broad range of aquatic ecosystems that occur across the continent. For example, the LTER sites listed in Table 4-2 reflect neither the range of habitat types nor the latitudes at which those habitats occur, especially for wetland and lake ecosystems. Funding resources should be focused on developing additional sites representing lake and wetland ecosystems over the range of climatic conditions
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology TABLE 4-2 Sites in the Long-Term Ecological Research Network Site Aquatic Emphasis H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest Forest-stream interactions Arctic Tundra Lake and stream studies Bonanza Creek Experimental Forest Wetland processes Cedar Creek Natural History Area Wetland processes, plant communities, paleoecology Central Plains Experimental Range No aquatic emphasis Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory Stream and riparian zone studies Harvard Forest Paleolimnology Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest Hillslope hydrology and biogeochemistry Jornada Experimental Range Water transport and playa lake processes W.K. Kellogg Biological Station Agricultural ecosystem hydrology and biogeochemistry Konza Prairie Prairie stream processes Luquillo Experimental Forest Stream processes McMurdo Dry Valleys Lake and stream processes. Niwot Ridge/Green Lakes Valley Montane hydrology and biogeochemistry North Temperate Lakes Lake processes and watershed hydrology Palmer Station Marine ecosystem processes Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge Watershed studies Virginia Coast Reserve Terrestrial-aquatic interactions in coastal habitats in the United States and ensuring that each has a strong education and research program. Programs should be established to allow graduate students to conduct thesis research across a set of different sites or stations. This would provide students not only with an opportunity to increase their knowledge of diverse ecosystem types but also with an opportunity to observe the different research methods used at different sites. An educational program should be developed in which students from various universities would visit a set of a field stations representing a wide range of ecosystem types and investigation techniques over the course of a semester. Students would be expected to engage in research projects at each site and to develop an independent research project at the final site. Funding for some of the above activities (particularly the last two) can come from research grants or from specific programs at universities or federal or state agencies. In addition, the National Science Foundation has a special Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program to provide scientists with funding specifically to support undergraduates. The REU program provides individual professors with support for one or a few students to work on an established research project and also provides groups of professors with funding to establish REU sites for large numbers of undergraduates.
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology Although federal funds for specific research and training initiatives are a key component in financing field station operations, the maintenance of field station facilities over the long term is primarily a responsibility of individual universities and states. In times of financial difficulties, such as universities are currently experiencing, administrators may view such facilities as luxuries that the university no longer can afford. Limnologists need to argue convincingly against this attitude. Field stations should be regarded as essential for teaching and research in limnology just as teaching and research hospitals are essential for medical schools, experimental farms for agricultural colleges, observatories for academic astronomers, and structural testing laboratories for civil engineering departments. For this attitude to take hold, however, limnologists must make field activities a much more integral part of undergraduate and graduate education in limnology than typically has been the case in the past. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR RESTRUCTURING EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS IN LIMNOLOGY In summary, education in limnology must serve three purposes: educating responsible citizens about stewardship of aquatic resources; educating future policymakers and managers of these resources; and training the next generation of scientists who will help develop the knowledge necessary to reverse the damage done to the world's lakes, streams, and wetlands in order to preserve their usefulness for the future. As awareness of the value of freshwater resources increases, so will the importance of establishing strong educational programs that meet all three of these needs. Indeed, as shown in Appendix A, student interest in limnology is increasing at many universities, reflecting the increasing importance that society is placing on protecting its freshwater resources. Following are steps that limnologists, universities, government agencies, and private-sector companies can take to strengthen educational opportunities in limnology. Strengthening Limnology Within the University System Establish departments of aquatic science with a strong focus in limnology at one or a few universities in each region of the United States to provide the full range of training (B.S. to Ph.D.) in limnology. At universities that do not create departments of aquatic science but have significant faculty expertise in aquatic science in various departments, establish interdepartmental programs in aquatic science with a strong focus on limnology; such programs are particularly suitable for educating graduate students but may not provide sufficient structure for educating undergraduate students.
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology Ensure that these programs provide adequate coverage of all types of freshwater ecosystems: lakes, streams, and wetlands. Educating Responsible Citizens Develop general introductory limnology courses (lower division or freshman-sophomore level) that are accessible to all types of students, with the goal of conveying how freshwater ecosystems respond to various human activities in a watershed context. Provide enough faculty support to allow all interested students to enroll in introductory limnology courses. Ensure that introductory limnology courses include coverage of wetlands and streams as well as lakes. Educating Future Water Managers Provide students with increased opportunities to gain exposure to practical problems such as the management of freshwater systems in urban areas. Increase student internship opportunities in federal and state agencies and the private sector. Strengthen NRC postdoctoral programs in federal agencies with water resource management responsibilities. Provide all interested students with an opportunity to gain laboratory and field experience, at either on-campus aquatic ecosystems, nearby aquatic ecosystems, or formal field stations. Educating Future Limnologists Provide undergraduates showing special interest in limnology with better guidance on selecting a curriculum that will provide the breadth of skills and knowledge needed to solve problems of freshwater ecosystems. Increase the opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to attend summer- or semester-long limnology ''field camps." Develop rigorous and comprehensive degree programs at the M.S. and Ph.D. levels to educate limnologists who (1) are knowledgeable across the broad spectrum of freshwater ecosystem types; (2) have an integrated understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological processes operating in these ecosystems, as well as the political, economic, and cultural factors that affect aquatic ecosystems and their management; and (3) have the problem-solving and communication skills necessary to apply their knowledge in the protection, management, and restoration of freshwater resources. Encourage the inclusion of a research component (thesis) or practical
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology problem-solving component in all M.S. programs and discourage course-work-only programs. Establish recommendations for the knowledge base that students should master at each degree level in limnology. The primary responsibility for carrying out the above recommendations rests with limnology-oriented faculty in universities because only they can develop the courses and degree programs described in this chapter. If reform were easy, however, many of the above recommendations already would have been enacted. Numerous barriers must be overcome to achieve the goals described, and it will be difficult for academic limnologists to overcome these barriers by themselves. University administrators, water resource managers in government and the private sector, and professional societies involving limnologists all have key roles to play. University administrators can help advance reform by supporting needed changes in university administrative structures for limnology programs and by allocating appropriate financial resources to these new structures. University alumni working as aquatic ecosystem scientists and managers can promote change by advising faculty and administrators of the essential and desirable training that students should receive for employment in their field and by developing internship opportunities for students. Professional societies involving limnologists (both researchers and managers) can organize symposia at their annual meetings or cosponsor a national conference to discuss limnological education. As individual societies, or preferably as a joint effort, they should develop initiatives to influence the direction of educational reform. Such initiatives would serve not only to guide the efforts of faculty at individual universities but also to provide encouragement and support for those efforts. In summary, to accomplish changes in the educational system limnologists in academic institutions, government, and the private sector, supported by their professional societies and by university administrators, will need to join forces. REFERENCES Cole, G. A. 1983. Textbook of Limnology, 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby. Hauer, F. R., and G. A. Lamberti, eds. 1996. Methods in Stream Ecology. San Diego, Calif.: Academic Press. Horne, A. J., and C. R. Goldman. 1994. Limnology, 2nd ed. New York: McGraw Hill. Ruttner, T. 1963. Fundamentals of Limnology, 3rd ed. (translated by D. G. Frey and F. E. J. Fry). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Welch, P. S. 1935. Limnology. New York: McGraw-Hill. Wetzel, R. G. 1983. Limnology, 2nd ed. Orlando, Fla.: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Wetzel, R. G., and G. E. Likens. 1991. Limnological Analyses, 2nd ed. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Representative terms from entire chapter: