5
Future of Limnology: Linking Education and Water Resource Management

Future employment prospects for graduates are a critical consideration when evaluating the merits of educational programs. In the case of limnology, however, those designing educational programs should look beyond the specific job market for limnologists because many positions in government and the private sector, whether or not they are held by limnologists, involve actions that affect freshwater ecosystems. Regulators who oversee the implementation of environmental laws, scientists and engineers in environmental consulting firms, managers of industrial facilities located on lakes and rivers, operators of water and wastewater treatment plants, urban planners, and policymakers in legislative bodies all make decisions that affect freshwater ecosystems. Limnology programs can serve not just to educate people who will pursue careers specifically in limnology but also to educate people whose work might someday influence the long-term, sustained use of freshwater ecosystems.

This chapter describes a wide range of jobs in public- and private-sector water resource management, as well as academia and research, in which limnological skills would be valuable and limnologists of the future may find careers. It also recommends strategies for improving the education of limnologists by linking academic programs more closely with applied problems and with agencies and companies involved in the management of lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Finally, it recommends ways to enhance the involvement of limnologists in management decisions that affect freshwater ecosystems.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology 5 Future of Limnology: Linking Education and Water Resource Management Future employment prospects for graduates are a critical consideration when evaluating the merits of educational programs. In the case of limnology, however, those designing educational programs should look beyond the specific job market for limnologists because many positions in government and the private sector, whether or not they are held by limnologists, involve actions that affect freshwater ecosystems. Regulators who oversee the implementation of environmental laws, scientists and engineers in environmental consulting firms, managers of industrial facilities located on lakes and rivers, operators of water and wastewater treatment plants, urban planners, and policymakers in legislative bodies all make decisions that affect freshwater ecosystems. Limnology programs can serve not just to educate people who will pursue careers specifically in limnology but also to educate people whose work might someday influence the long-term, sustained use of freshwater ecosystems. This chapter describes a wide range of jobs in public- and private-sector water resource management, as well as academia and research, in which limnological skills would be valuable and limnologists of the future may find careers. It also recommends strategies for improving the education of limnologists by linking academic programs more closely with applied problems and with agencies and companies involved in the management of lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Finally, it recommends ways to enhance the involvement of limnologists in management decisions that affect freshwater ecosystems.

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology CAREERS IN LIMNOLOGY Typically, limnologists with advanced degrees have pursued careers in academia or research. For example, 49 percent of the members of the North American Benthological Society, one of the primary professional societies for limnologists, are employed in academia (see Appendix B). However, in addition to typical academic and research careers, promising employment opportunities exist for limnologists in the private and public sectors. Private-Sector Employment Opportunities Employment options in the private sector often are overlooked by limnologists, but a variety of potential careers exists with utilities, industries, nonprofit institutions, and consulting companies. The multidisciplinary training and experience that limnologists offer are assets for many positions in the private sector. Small and large organizations alike benefit from having staff with the ability to integrate several disciplines when confronting complicated environmental issues such as watershed management, wetland restoration, or mitigation of point-source pollutant discharges. At the same time, limnologists benefit from the intellectual challenges in the private sector as they seek solutions to environmental problems that involve diverse scientific and policy issues. Two examples illustrate private-sector opportunities for limnologists: Environmental manager of a hydroelectric facility: The responsibilities of environmental managers at hydroelectric facilities (see Box 5-1) often include monitoring water quality for compliance with relevant regulations, determining impacts of, a dam on fish and aquatic invertebrate organisms, protecting wetland habitats influenced by the dam, and maintaining terrestrial plant and animal communities of the riparian areas surrounding the impoundment and river. Such managers must understand the physics, chemistry, and biology of the river and reservoir system—for which training in limnology is directly relevant. Watershed manager for a nongovernmental watershed conservancy: Land, lake, and river conservancies in various parts of the United States purchase critical land, negotiate conservation easements, and establish cross-ownership management partnerships in areas they wish to protect. Watershed managers for such conservancies must develop, implement, and monitor natural resource management plans that integrate activities on conservancy lands, consider industrial activities within the watershed, and seek to improve water and wetland quality of the mainstream and tributaries. As with the hydroelectric facility operator, the conservancy watershed manager must be able to consult with science experts from disparate fields and evaluate their advice when confronting complex restoration

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology BOX 5-1 HYDROELECTRIC FACILITY MANAGER ON THE MENOMINEE RIVER The environmental manager at a hydroelectric facility on the Menominee River in Michigan's Upper Peninsula has a variety of responsibilities for which training in limnology would be ideal. Many of these responsibilities are illustrated in the tasks the manager carried out to obtain a new license for the facility from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). These tasks included arranging for surveys of rare organisms; developing management plans to protect a population of rare wood turtles (Clemmys insculpta) and globally endangered oak savanna prairie remnants on company property; monitoring bald eagle use of the impoundment and river, and identifying and protecting potential nest trees; conducting fish entrainment studies to determine the impact of the facility on the fishery; surveying aquatic insects and mollusks in the impoundment and river to determine the health of these communities and provide a baseline against which to monitor ecosystem changes; mapping all Menominee River wetlands influenced by the project and estimating their water-level fluctuations; evaluating optimal water flows for white water kayakers and rafters on rapids downstream of the facility and reconciling these uses with the needs of downstream fisheries and the demands for electric power. In most cases, the environmental manager contracted services to conduct these studies but required broad-based expertise in aquatic science such as is provided by limnology to prepare requests for proposals, select consultants, and evaluate and interpret reports. or environmental impact challenges—responsibilities for which broad, interdisciplinary training in limnology is valuable. In addition to direct opportunities in water management, the private sector offers limnologists opportunities to conduct in-depth studies of challenging practical questions. Examples of private-sector questions that limnologists can address include the following: How wide should a vegetated buffer zone be to protect stream quality from adjacent landscape activities? What habitat changes result from construction of roads over small streams? How can downstream fisheries be maintained despite dramatic water flow fluctuations caused by a hydroelectric facility?

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology Can a borrow pit pond be transformed into a productive wetland ecosystem? How can herbicides be applied to pine plantations without damaging an adjacent wetland or stream community? How can stormwater runoff be managed or treated to protect the recreational values of urban lakes? How can a tailing pond be designed to protect aquatic habitats while allowing mining operations to proceed? Some of these private-sector research questions can be addressed by the application of existing research. Addressing others will require studies tailored to a geographic location. Still others will require original research in limnology and other aquatic sciences. Public-Sector Employment Opportunities At all levels of government, managers make critical decisions that affect aquatic ecosystems. Examples of such decisions include how close to a lakeshore construction should be permitted, whether to allow alterations to a wetland, what water level to maintain in a reservoir, and what concentration of chemical constituents to allow in a wastewater discharge. Inclusion of limnologists on the teams addressing water management problems will enhance the potential for successful outcomes. A variety of employment opportunities exists for limnologists in government agencies. Examples include the following: In Michigan, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) employs more than 150 environmental quality analysts and land and water specialists, many of whom have training in limnology, to assess water quality problems. Some of these analysts work with city and county planners to determine the relative impacts of point and nonpoint sources of pollution on aquatic life. Approximately 50 of them are wetland specialists who analyze the impacts of human activities, such as road building, on wetlands. In addition, the Michigan DNR has positions with the titles environmental enforcement analyst, aquatic biologist, fisheries biologist, research biologist, and park interpreter—jobs for which training in limnology is highly valued. Currently, most of the employees in such positions have B.S. degrees from state universities, combined with water management work experience. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has many opportunities for graduates of limnology and related aquatic science programs. Employment opportunities exist within its fisheries management, water resource management, wastewater management, water supply, water regulation and zoning, and water resource research bureaus. In 1994, the DNR filled approximately 35 such positions, mostly with individuals who

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology have master's degrees. In addition to limnologists, employees in these programs include environmental engineers, hydrogeologists, aquatic toxicologists, aquatic biologists, watershed planners and modelers, and hydrologists. Federal water management agencies such as the Bureau of Reclamation, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Tennessee Valley Authority perform a large number of tasks, ranging from reservoir management to wetland delineation, that could benefit from the involvement of limnologists. For example, the Tennessee Valley Authority retains teams of scientists whose services can be contracted to monitor the condition of fish and benthic organisms in reservoirs and streams. The U.S. Geological Survey has hired limnologists in its National Water Quality Assessment Program, designed to evaluate the status of the nation's waters, trends in water quality, and the reasons for these trends. However, the hiring of limnologists for federal positions is complicated by the lack of a specific federal job description for the profession of limnology, as explained later in this chapter. Some Native American nations have opportunities for limnologists. For example, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians employs water quality specialists to develop nonpoint-source pollution management plans, delineate wetlands, and evaluate Great Lakes water quality. The tribe also employs water resource technicians for field and laboratory analysis of water quality. These specialists and technicians typically have B.S. degrees in a field of aquatic science. Thus, numerous employment opportunities exist for limnologists in public-sector water management. The degree to which these jobs are filled by scientists with training in limnology varies. As the complexity of sound management of aquatic ecosystems becomes more widely recognized, the value of training in limnology should increase in the job market. Career Opportunities at Research Centers Ecological research centers offer a variety of employment opportunities for limnologists at all education and skill levels. The United States has a large number of research centers operated by organizations ranging from private foundations, to state and federal government agencies, to universities. Compared with traditional university departments, such centers can offer more opportunities for interdisciplinary research. For example, the objectives of the Maryland International Institute for Ecological Economics specifically include integration, study, and management of ecological and economic systems. Some centers, such as Notre Dame's Environmental Research Center in the upper Midwest, focus on one or a few ecosystems in one geographic region. Others cover a broad range of ecosystems and geography. For example, the University of Georgia's Institute of Ecology

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology conducts studies on wetlands, forests, coastal waters, rivers, lakes, and agricultural systems in the southeastern United States and several tropical countries. Research centers employ Ph.D.-level scientists full- or part-time in research, management, education, and extension positions. Types of appointments include fixed-term (temporary) postdoctoral assignments for new Ph.D.s and permanent positions. Postdoctoral positions may be funded by center-derived fellowships or research grants; alternatively, the center may simply provide on-site resources to individuals who have obtained their own fellowship support. Employment of permanent staff scientists ranges from full twelve-month appointments at large, well-funded government laboratories (such as the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory in Aiken, South Carolina) to support for nine months with the expectation that three months of funding will be generated by the scientist from research grants or contracts (as at the Jones Ecological Research Center in Newton, Georgia), to salary support dependent completely on research grants (as at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts). Centers that also have responsibility for managing land or water resources (such as the Flathead Lake Biological Station in Polson, Montana) often have resource management positions. Centers with an extension mission (such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Southeast Watershed Research Station in Tifton, Georgia) have employment opportunities in education and information outreach, as well as research. For individuals holding regular faculty positions, research centers may provide sabbatical fellowships or summer support (for example, the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York) or defined contract work on a consulting basis (for example, the Environmental Sciences Department at Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratory in Washington). Centers also employ technical personnel with B.S. or M.S. degrees for field and laboratory research, laboratory management, resource management, computer support, and extension activities. As with Ph.D.-level positions, a variety of contractual arrangements is possible. Some centers assist in training graduate students by providing graduate stipends, fellowships, and internships, and some provide grant support that targets specific groups. Many centers also provide research experience for undergraduate students. For example, the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory regularly provides research opportunities for undergraduates with funds from the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, which is intended to introduce undergraduate students to basic research. Career Opportunities in Academia Despite the concern among some academic limnologists about a decline in limnology programs in North America, opportunities for academic

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology careers in colleges and universities still exist and are likely to continue for imaginative and well-educated limnologists. An understanding of how aquatic ecosystems function and how they are influenced by a variety of human activities will remain a critical societal need for a long time. Colleges and universities will have to produce individuals with such understanding; therefore, a continuing demand for limnologists as instructors and professors can be projected. As is true of some other fields of science, the nature of academic opportunities for limnologists has changed in recent decades (see Chapter 2). In particular, there is increasing emphasis on wetland and flowing water limnology and on expertise related to such disciplines as chemistry and geology, so that available positions frequently are in nontraditional (that is, nonbiological) departments. Graduate education in limnology must change in response to these trends if the field is to remain vital. In contrast to graduate limnology programs of the past, which focused on producing Ph.D.-level scientists for academic and research careers, new limnology programs should recognize that the academic job market is likely to remain faily small. The greater needs in limnology are in the production of practicing scientists at both the M.S. and the Ph.D. levels. Ph.D. students, in particular, need to be counseled about the rewarding limnological careers that exist outside academia, the job skills they will need to compete successfully for such positions, and the limited opportunities for academic positions. COLLABORATION AMONG UNIVERSITIES, GOVERNMENT AGENCIES, AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR In preparing this report, the Committee on Inland Aquatic Ecosystems met with water resource managers from around the United States to discuss their perspectives on education in limnology. Perhaps the most emphatic message delivered by the resource managers was the "universities must provide the broad training necessary for solving practical management problems." This clear statement is fundamental to delivering a successful education to limnologists who hope to practice their discipline in real-world settings. To answer questions such as the following, planners of limnology curricula need to communicate directly and frequently with the employers who form the market for graduates: What kind of work will limnology graduates be performing? What scientific knowledge is necessary for this work? What communication and other social skills are most valued? In short, universities can benefit from studying the market carefully in order to prepare their limnology students for the workplace. One way for universities to determine whether they are preparing their

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology students adequately for the workplace is to survey former students who are working in various resource management careers to find out about any gaps in their educational backgrounds. Beyond communication with former students, however, there is a wide variety of opportunities for creating links between universities and water resource managers, as outlined below. Strengthening these links will enhance the relevance and overall quality of the educational experience for limnology students. Collaborative Teaching and Research Universities and environmental agencies have decidedly different missions. The role of a university is to educate students, train professionals through graduate programs, conduct research to increase society's knowledge base, and disseminate information to scientists and the public. The mission of environmental agencies is to manage and protect the environment and public health, as codified in state and federal laws. Because of these very different roles, the interactions between agencies and universities are not always as extensive as they could or should be. Nonetheless, several successful models of extensive collaboration between government agencies and university aquatic science programs provide examples that could be duplicated elsewhere. Many of the existing successful university-government partnerships involve agency scientists working part-time as adjunct professors. Agency managers and researchers may teach semester-long university courses or short courses themselves or in conjunction with university professors. Adjunct appointments provide agency scientists with access to graduate and postdoctoral students, research laboratories, and specialized field and laboratory equipment. Such appointments also enable agency scientists to submit joint applications with regular university faculty to funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation. Adjunct appointments can benefit universities because of the access they provide to scientists working on applied resource problems. In addition, universities can gain access to state and/or federal funding sources, equipment, and field technicians. In many situations, duplication of laboratory and field equipment can be prevented, providing a savings to both institutions. For example, scientists from the University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources share laboratories for evaluating trace-metal concentrations in water samples. In addition to collaboration through appointment of government scientists and managers as adjunct professors, universities and agencies may conduct joint research projects. Some of the most effective collaboration can occur at field research stations, where agency and university scientists can work together on real-world problems (see the background paper "The Role of Major Research Centers in the Study of Inland Aquatic

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology BOX 5-2 RESEARCH PARTNERSHIPS AT HUBBARD BROOK EXPERIMENTAL FOREST The Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, a 3, 160-hectare reserve in Wood-stock, New Hampshire, in the White Mountain National Forest, is dedicated to the long-term study of forests and associated aquatic ecosystems. Established in 1955 as a center for hydrologic research in New England, it was expanded in 1963 with the initiation of the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study. F. Herbert Bormann, Gene E. Likens, and Noye M. Johnson, then on the faculty of Dartmouth College, and Robert S. Pierce of the Forest Service proposed to use small watershed ecosystems at Hubbard Brook to study linkages between the hydrologic cycle and the transport of elements in forested and associated aquatic ecosystems. In addition, they proposed to study the response of ecosystems to natural and human disturbances such as air pollution, forest cutting, land-use changes, increases in insect populations, and climatic variations. The Hubbard Brook site is operated by the Forest Service and since 1963 also has received continuous support from the National Science Foundation. Cooperative efforts among many educational institutions, government agencies, foundations, and private industries continue to produce extensive data and information on the biology, geology, and chemistry of forest and freshwater ecosystems. Today the primary goals of the Hubbard Brook sites are to (1) advance scientific understanding of forest and associated aquatic ecosystems, (2) provide a scientific basis for the improved management of natural resources, (3) provide educational opportunities for students, and (4) promote public awareness of the importance of forest and associated aquatic ecosystems and concern for ecological issues. Work conducted at Hubbard Brook is oriented toward applied research and management issues that are regional, national, and global in scope. Awareness and understanding gained from this research aid in the long-term management of natural resources for water supply, water quality, wildlife, timber yield, and sustained forest growth. Examples of Hubbard Brook research include the following: Acid rain has been studied since the early 1960s. Research at Hubbard Brook produced data that have played an influential role in U.S. and international assessments of this major environmental problem. Considerable research quantifying the effects of clear-cutting on northern hardwood forests has been conducted. This research has been instrumental in developing techniques to minimize the impacts of clear-cutting on forests, streams, and lakes. Data from Mirror Lake, located at the base of Hubbard Brook Valley, date back to the 1960s, making the lake one of the most intensively studied in the world and providing critical information for the management of lake ecosystems. By monitoring lead in precipitation, soil, vegetation, and streams since the mid-1970s, Yale University scientists have documented the recovery of forests from lead pollution since the U.S. phaseout of leaded gasoline.

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology The sustained research at Hubbard Brook has been invaluable in providing continuity in pursuit of patterns and trends, in identifying extreme observations, and in catalyzing significant new research questions. These long-term data also have influenced policy decisions regarding management of natural resources (see G. E. Likens et al., 1978; G. E. Likens, 1992). More than 100 senior scientists have worked at the site. Hubbard Brook research has generated more than 800 published papers, 5 books, 63 Ph.D. theses, 30 M.S. theses, and 22 undergraduate honor theses. A listing of all publications can be found in P. C. Likens (1994). Gene E. Likens, Professor Institute of Ecosystems Studies Millbrook, New York Ecosystems'' at the end of this report). Examples of research stations, of which government and academic limnologists work in tandem include Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (see Box 5-2), which was founded by scientists from Dartmouth College and is now supported by the U.S. Forest Service and the National Science Foundation; the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Energy research station at Dorset, Ontario, which is supported by the Canadian government but draws scientists from the Universities of Toronto, Trent, Waterloo, and York; the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in North Carolina, where University of Georgia and Virginia Tech scientists work closely with the U.S. Forest Service to study stream processes; the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon, which supports collaborative stream research by the Universities of Oregon and Washington and the Forest Service; the Freshwater Institute at Winnipeg, Manitoba, where University of Manitoba researchers work with funding from the Canadian government; and the University of Wisconsin Trout Lake Station in Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, which has dedicated space for research programs of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Geological Survey. One of the most productive partnership models to emulate has been that of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), near Kenora, Ontario (see Box 5-3). This field research station is operated by the Canadian government and staffed with agency and university scientists alike. From the late 1960s through the 1980s, research conducted at ELA on the causes and effects of major water pollution problems, such as lake eutrophication and acid deposition, was followed closely by agency resource managers.

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology BOX 5-3 COOPERATIVE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION AT THE EXPERIMENTAL LAKES AREA Canada established the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) in 1969, after a survey of several lake regions in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario, to perform ecosystem-scale experiments that would guide policies for controlling eutrophication in the Great Lakes and other areas of Canada (Johnson and Vallentyne, 1971). In 1973, the project mandate expanded to include whole-ecosystem experiments to address a variety of water management issues. Institutions participating in these experiments have included the Canadian Departments of Fisheries and Oceans, Environment, and Forestry; the Universities of Manitoba, Alberta, and Toronto; Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; and several U.S. universities. Over the history of this program, ELA researchers have carried out a range of significant ecosystem experiments, some of which have played critical roles in policy formulation: ELA experiments with nutrients demonstrated the key role of the atmosphere in remedying carbon and nitrogen deficiencies, supporting the decision to control phosphorus as a first step in controlling eutrophication (Schindler et al., 1972; Schindler, 1974, 1977). ELA experiments with lake acidification demonstrated that much of the buffering capacity in some lakes is driven by microbiological action that can assist lakes in recovering once acid deposition is reduced, supplementing earlier theories that emphasized terrestrial and geological sources of buffering (Schindler, 1980, 1986; Kelly et al., 1982; Cook and Schindler, 1983; Cook et al., 1986; Schindler et al., 1986). Other ELA experiments in acidification showed that damage from acidification could occur at much higher pH levels than previously believed; the experiments demonstrated that biodiversity declined by more than 30 percent in acidification to pH 5, which some had viewed as the point at which damage to lakes began (Schindler et al., 1985; Schindler, 1990). Measurements of precipitation, streamflow, lake and stream chemistry, and a broad suite of other biological and physical parameters made in several lakes in the ELA date back as long as 22 to 27 years. These measurements serve as references for experimental systems and show how the lakes and streams have changed over two decades of warming and drying trends. Because an "ecosystem approach" requires a broad suite of investigations, ELA has always had strong inputs from graduate students, even though it has had no official mandate to do so. Harvey (1976), describing Canadian programs in aquatic environmental quality, called ELA "… our most outstanding field station for graduate work in limnology." As of 1989, 35 percent of the more than 500 scientific publications from ELA had been authored or coauthored by graduate students from several Canadian and U.S. universities. Approximately 60 graduate theses have been completed, and 18 doctoral and master's projects are under way at the site.

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology the federal government can develop a job classification for limnologists. Finally, limnologists themselves can work to increase public awareness of their field. Certification of Professional Limnologists Universities and some research institutions have long evaluated the productivity of scientists by their track records—typically in terms of number and quality of peer-reviewed publications and/or number of graduated Ph.D. students. A pragmatic evaluation or certification system for aquatic ecosystem scientists and water resource professionals might be valuable for a variety of positions in the public and private sectors, especially in consulting firms, state and federal resource and regulatory agencies, and private industry. Examples of specific positions for which certification might be useful include state water quality managers, federal agency water quality regulators, aquatic science and engineering consultants, hydroelectric facility environmental supervisors, and paper mill aquatic environmental supervisors. There are at least three compelling but simple reasons for certification of limnologists in the private and public sectors. First, managers of aquatic ecosystems need a standard and basic set of limnological skills to make good decisions involving aquatic resources. Second, employers of aquatic resource scientists and evaluators of programs or environmental impact studies would benefit from knowing that the employee, consultant, or study author is certified as possessing certain key knowledge. In addition, having certified limnologists in some of these jobs would facilitate communication and negotiations regarding aquatic resources because a common language would be present. Several models of certification of aquatic scientists exist. These could be adapted or combined into a broad, umbrella aquatic science certification program having several subspecialties (one of which would be limnology). Existing certification programs include the following: The American Institute of Hydrology certifies applicants in hydrology. The evaluation process involves review of the applicant's education and professional experience, along with a written examination. Educational requirements include a B.S. in hydrology or hydrogeology or a major in physical or natural sciences or engineering with at least 25 semester credits in hydrology or hydrogeology. Applicants must have at least eight years of experience after the B.S. degree, six years after an M.S., or four years after a Ph.D. Five letters of reference are required from individuals who know the applicant's qualifications, integrity, and professional conduct. Some of the requirements may be waived for applicants whose reputation or standing in the professional community clearly

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology shows that the applicant qualifies for certification. Applicants are certified as "professional hydrologist," "professional hydrogeologist," or "professional hydrologist (ground water).'' The Ecological Society of America certifies "senior ecologists," "ecologists," and "associate ecologists" based on educational background and work experience. Certification as an associate ecologist requires a bachelor's or higher degree in ecology or a related science and at least one year of postgraduate professional experience in applying ecological principles. Certification as an ecologist requires a master's or higher degree in ecology or a related science and at least two years of professional experience, or a bachelor's degree and five years of professional experience. Certification as a senior ecologist requires a Ph.D. in ecology or a related science and at least five years of professional experience, or a master's degree and at least ten years of professional experience. In addition to completing a form showing educational background and work experience, applicants must provide the names of three references. The certification program is administered by the society's Board of Professional Certification, which consists of seven certified ecologists elected by the society's general membership. The Society of Wetland Scientists certifies "professional wetland scientists" and "wetland professionals in training" based on educational background and work experience. Certification as a wetland professional in training requires at least 15 semester hours of biological sciences, 15 semester hours of physical sciences, and 6 semester hours of quantitative sciences. Certification as a professional wetland scientist requires an additional 12 semester hours of courses specifically related to wetlands, plus five years of work experience demonstrating application of current technical knowledge in dealing with wetland resources; some of the work experience requirement can be met by advanced degrees in related fields. In addition to documentation of meeting these requirements, applicants must submit the names of five professionals who can serve as references, plus written references from three of the professionals. The North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) has a certified lake manager program that was established in 1990 as a means of identifying lake management professionals within NALMS who meet certain standards. By NALMS definition, a lake manager is any person directly involved in the comprehensive management of a pond, lake, reservoir, or other body of water or its watershed. Certification candidates may apply for either "provisional" certification, which is based on college course work and requires no experience, or "professional" certification, which requires five years of professional lake management experience if the academic degree is not related to aquatic sciences or a minimum of two years of lake management experience if the B.S. degree is in one of the environmental fields (such as zoology, botany, or environmental

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology engineering). Certified lake managers must renew their certification every two years by completing a minimum of four continuing education units or equivalent academic course work. Certification is granted by the Certified Lake Manager Board, which is appointed by the NALMS Board of Directors. Although some limnologists argue strongly for a certification program to validate the credentials of limnologists who are working as managers of aquatic systems, others argue equally strongly against certification. Arguments against certification include the risk of not certifying highly qualified professionals because they fail to meet one or two "paper requirements" of the certification program and, at the same time, the risk of certifying a "charlatan" who meets the paper requirements but does not keep up with current developments in the field or lacks scientific ethics. Another argument against certification is that it may not account for the great variation in quality of the educational backgrounds of applicants. Some also might argue that outlining specific course requirements for certification might stifle innovation in education and limit the practice of limnology to those with narrow backgrounds. Nevertheless, certification could provide a useful resource for those wishing to hire professional limnologists. Certification of professional limnologists and consolidation of the existing, related certification programs are issues that leaders of the various professional societies involving limnologists (see Appendix B) should evaluate. In reviewing certification programs, the societies should consider whether there is a need for limnologists who are certified as competent across the spectrum of aquatic ecosystem types (lakes, flowing waters, various types of wetlands) that are within the purviews of modern limnology, and if so, what level of education (B.S., M.S., Ph.D.) would be required. Federal Job Classification for Limnologists To gain employment in the federal government, professionals are hired through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) from the federal job register, which is a listing of qualified applicants for a wide range of job classifications (such as "hydrologist" or "environmental engineer") at different levels. Currently, there is no federal job classification for "limnologist." Scientists who are trained as limnologists may be hired as hydrologists (a classification that does not necessarily require biological training), microbiologists (which does not necessarily require training in hydrology and physical and chemical sciences), fisheries biologists, or some other related position title. For a limnologist to be hired by a federal agency, the applicant must be ranked as among the best-qualified (top five or ten) of those listed in

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology the particular job register (hydrologist or microbiologist, for example). At higher levels of government service (GS-12 and above), the specific qualifications and expertise required for a particular job are considered in ranking candidates. However, at the lower range (especially GS-4 through GS-9), specific qualifications are not given as much weight. As a result, agencies wishing to hire a limnologist can have trouble finding candidates with suitable training. In 1969, OPM established the hydrologist register through the efforts of Luna Leopold, who was then chief hydrologist for the USGS. Establishing this register facilitated the hiring of qualified scientists by the USGS's Water Resources Division—positions that had previously been difficult to fill because of the limitations of using the job registers for "geologist" and "hydraulic engineer" to identify qualified hydrologists. Federal agencies would benefit similarly from establishment of a limnologist category in the federal job register. Such a listing would be especially valuable for hiring staff for the USGS's National Water Quality Assessment Program and for a variety of positions in the Environmental Protection Agency, National Biological Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, Forest Service, Soil Conservation Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Army Corps of Engineers. Coordination Among Professional Societies As described in Chapter 2 and shown in Appendix B, there are several professional societies in the field of limnology, each focusing on one aspect of the broad field. This diversity of organizations has many positive attributes. For example, the relatively small size of the societies' annual meetings (attendance well under a thousand) makes them more manageable for both organizers and participants than the large meetings (with thousands of attendees) of some societies. Small societies engender a sense of belonging and tend to have less bureaucratic structures and lower annual dues than large societies. On the other hand, the current situation has several important draw-backs. None of the present societies represents the field of limnology as a whole, and none of their journals provides coverage of all ecosystem types and the broad spectrum of research activities encompassed within modern limnology. The small size of the individual societies means that none is able to support a professional staff to represent the interests of the society or the field to Congress, federal agencies, or the national press. Consequently, limnologists as a group do not have a strong voice in legislative and budgetary decisions that affect their field. Limnologists collectively have invested considerable time and energy to develop the current limnological societies and journals, and they rightfully

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology have a sense of pride in their accomplishments and a sense of ownership in these entities. Consequently, radical changes in the current organizational structure are not likely in the near term. Nonetheless, there are many steps that the societies could take to improve coordination among themselves without imposing a loss of individual identities. For example, presidents of the various societies could form a coordinating council that would meet once or twice a year to exchange information and plan joint activities, such as jointly sponsored symposia or working groups to prepare reports on pressing issues. The societies should consider organizing joint annual meetings, which could provide considerable savings in time and travel costs to many scientists who now attend several different limnological meetings each year. Over time, as the societies work more closely together and build increasing levels of trust and understanding, they may decide that some of their business functions could be consolidated in a central office. The efficiencies gained by consolidation could save money that might be used to enhance efforts at outreach and public education or other member benefits. Eventually, it may be possible and desirable to form a confederation of limnological societies in which each society would maintain its identity but business and operating functions would be handled centrally. Public Education As emphasized in this report, academic limnologists need to train not only their successors in science but also broad-minded citizens who are aware of the many ways in which human activities affect aquatic ecosystems. Limnologists must reach beyond university students whose focus is aquatic science to help educate the broader public. There are several ways in which academic limnologists, as well as those in the private and government sectors, can increase public awareness of limnology and the vulnerability of freshwater systems to human-caused stresses. Such outreach activities include testifying at public hearings involving proposed water management projects, speaking at public gatherings, working with K-12 teachers and participating in K-12 education initiatives, providing scientific information on local water quality issues to local media (newspapers, radio stations, and television stations), and helping community and environmental organizations address aquatic resource issues. Aquatic scientists can attract large audiences at the meetings of a variety of organizations, ranging from environmental and sporting groups to Girl Scouts, Lions Clubs, Rotary Clubs, Leagues of Women Voters, and many others. Limnology programs can also attract interest at their own open houses or at tours that they provide of wetlands, streams, or lakes. In some cases, such programs can be run through a university's extension service.

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology There have been numerous successful outreach programs. The Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, has extensive citizen education programs on ecosystem processes. Researchers at the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have worked with the staff of a museum to develop interactive programs on lake biology. Researchers at Wisconsin's Trout Lake Station have participated regularly in a regional lake fair and provided people with introductions to the range of aquatic organisms that occur in their region and to the features of natural systems that are monitored routinely. Trout Lake personnel also provide summer field walks of wetlands in the region through an effort coordinated by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Many members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations and the National Association of Marine Laboratories routinely offer programs that attract a wide general audience. Citizen-based water quality monitoring programs are a rapidly growing phenomenon in many parts of the country. Academic limnologists can play useful roles as advise to such groups, helping them to select useful and practical measurement variables to ensure proper collection of high-quality data and to interpret and understand the data they are collecting. In some cases, citizen monitoring is done by school-age children under the supervision of high school science instructors. In other cases, the monitoring is done by homeowners on lakes. For example, a citizen-based program to monitor the Secchi disk transparency of lakes was started in Minnesota more than 20 years ago by Joseph Shapiro, a limnologist at the University of Minnesota, and this program has provided the state's pollution control agency with long-term data on trends in water clarity for a large number of lakes. A similar national program called the "Great Secchi Disk Dip-In" is being developed by Robert Carlson, a professor of limnology at Kent State University in Ohio. Limnologists should increase their efforts to participate in such public outreach programs to increase general citizen awareness of the importance of inland aquatic ecosystems. Outreach activities traditionally have been an important function of land-grant universities. All too often, however, outreach activities are regarded by faculty as something to be done only by extension agents or specialists, who typically are associated with colleges of agriculture. SUMMARY: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING LINKS BETWEEN LIMNOLOGY AND WATER MANAGEMENT In limnology, traditional boundaries between basic and applied research are inappropriate. Basic understanding of how aquatic systems function is essential for devising realistic management plans. Consequently,

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology most fundamental research on aquatic ecosystems ultimately has practical implications. At the same time, applied problems are so widespread that there are few ecosystems in which problem-solving research approaches are irrelevant. Despite the lack of clear boundaries between the applied and theoretical perspectives, limnologists, like scientists in other disciplines, sometimes have tried to draw a distinction between them. This separation has led to weak ties between academic limnologists and the government agencies responsible for protecting and managing aquatic ecosystems. The challenge for modern educators and water managers is to avoid such distinctions and to improve the links between formal educational programs in limnology, which often are considered to focus on fundamental research, and agencies and companies with practical problems to solve. As described in this chapter, these links can be improved in several ways: Universities should (1) survey past students to determine how to tailor limnology programs to the needs of the job market, (2) provide opportunities for senior-level water managers to serve as adjunct faculty, (3) develop better continuing education opportunities for practicing limnologists, and (4) reward faculty members for educating the public about aquatic ecosystem management. Scientists and water resource managers in universities, government agencies, and the private sector should seek opportunities for collaborative research. Government agencies and universities should expand opportunities for faculty to take leave from their normal academic responsibilities to work on solving practical aquatic resource problems in agencies. Government agencies and private companies should increase opportunities for student interns to work on projects related to management of aquatic ecosystems. The federal government should establish a limnologist classification in the federal job register to facilitate the hiring of persons with training in this field. Professional societies representing various types of limnologists should (1) evaluate the need for formal certification of limnologists across the spectrum of aquatic ecosystem types, (2) form a coordinating council to plan joint activities, (3) consider organizing joint annual meetings, and (4) coordinate strategies to increase their influence on policies regarding the protection and restoration of inland waters. REFERENCES Cook, R. B., and D. W. Schindler. 1983. The biogeochemistry of sulfur in an experimentally acidified lake. Ecol. Bull. (Stockholm) 35:115–127.

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology Cook, R. B., C. A. Kelly, D. W. Schindler, and M. A. Turner. 1986. Mechanisms of hydrogenion neutralization in an experimentally acidified lake. Limnol. and Oceanogr. 31:134–148. Johnson, W. E., and J. R. Vallentyne. 1971. Rationale, background, and development of experimental lake studies in northwestern Ontario. J. Fish. Res. Board Can. 28:123–128. Kelly, C. A., J. W. M. Rudd, R. B. Cook, and D. W. Schindler. 1982. The potential importance of bacterial processes in regulating rate of lake acidification. Limnol. and Oceanogr. 27:868–882. Likens, G. E. 1992. The Ecosystem Approach: Its Use and Abuse, Excellence in Ecology, Book 3. Oldendorf-Luhe, Germany: Ecology Institute. Likens, G. E., F. H. Bormann, R. S. Pierce, and W. A. Reiners. 1978. Recovery of a deforested ecosystem. Science 199:492–496. Likens, P. C. 1994. Publications of the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study. Millbrook, N.Y.: Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Schindler, D. W. 1974. Eutrophication and recovery in experimental lakes: Implications for lake management. Science 184:897–899. Schindler, D. W. 1977. Evolution of phosphorus limitation in lakes: Natural mechanisms compensate for deficiencies of nitrogen and carbon in eutrophied lakes. Science 195:260–262. Schindler, D. W. 1980. Experimental acidification of a whole lake: A test of the oligotrophic hypothesis. Pp. 370–374 in Ecological Impact of Acid Precipitation: Proceedings of an International Conference, Sandefjord, Norway, March 11–14. Oslo: SNSF Project. Schindler, D. W. 1986. Recovery of Canadian lakes from acidification. Paper presented at Effects of Air Pollution on Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecosystems: Workshop on Reversibility of Acidification, Grimstad, Norway, June 9–11. Schindler, D. W. 1990. Experimental perturbation of whole lakes and tests of hypotheses concerning ecosystem structure and function. Oikos 57:25–41. Schindler, D. W., G. J. Brunskill, S. Emerson, W. S. Broecker, and T.-H. Peng. 1972. Atmospheric carbon dioxide: Its role in maintaining phytoplankton standing crops. Science 177:1192–1194. Schindler, D. W., K. H. Mills, D. F. Malley, D. L. Findlay, J. A. Shearer, I. J. Davies, M. A. Turner, G. A. Linsey, and D. R. Cruikshank. 1985. Long-term ecosystem stress: The effects of years of acidification on a small lake. Science 228:1395–1401. Schindler, D. W., M. A. Turner, M. P. Stainton, and G. A. Linsey. 1986. Natural sources of acid neutralizing capacity in low alkalinity lakes of the Precambrian Shield. Science 232:844–847. Background Papers

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology This page in the original is blank.

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology BACKGROUND PAPERS

OCR for page 154
Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology This page in the original is blank.