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Inventory and Monitoring Program, Pacific Island Network, National Park Service (Newsletter) Permanent Link

A Cultural Context for Preserving Hawaii's Diverse Ecological Landscape

The Pacific Island Network (PACN) of the National Park Service (NPS) Inventory and Monitoring program is currently in the process of implementing vital signs monitoring within 11 PACN parks. As a basis to monitoring, effective communication is essential. To this end, IAN staff worked with park management and staff on the island of Hawai'i to create a newsletter that identifies the key features and stressors to the natural resources within their four parks, keeping in mind the historical link between native Hawaiian culture and the natural environment.

Seagrass: A Hidden Treasure (Brochure) Permanent Link

January 2008

This brochure is part of a series of images, diagrams and fun facts produced by the Global Seagrass Trajectories working group, funded by the National Science Foundation and conducted at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in SantaBarbara, California. It describes the temperate and tropical distributions of seagrasses globally, their role as food and habitat for a variety of organisms, as well as being effective indicators of change.

Synthesising research, management, and monitoring (Poster) Permanent Link

Using a science communication product to drive the synthesis process

This paper presents the process and results of a three-year collaboration between the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the Maryland Coastal Bays Program. The focus of this collaboration was the conception, design, and production of a full-color, design-layout book synthesizing the current knowledge of the science and monitoring in the Coastal Bays, and highlighting management issues and recommendations. The book is aimed at a broad audience, from the interested layperson to technical scientists and resource managers. Through this project, a partnership was developed and a process established that forms the basis for future projects. A key team of editors was established, representing different research and management agencies, to conceive of the general structure of the book. Relevant experts from a wide range of agency and stakeholder groups were invited to author workshops to determine and layout the content for each of 14 chapters. Each layout workshop brought together experts who shared their perspectives of the Maryland Coastal Bays. Their explanations to each other and to the science communicators sparked a dynamic dialog on the basic underlying processes and the best way to illustrate the message (photographs, maps, conceptual diagrams, tables, graphs). Short, active titles were developed-statements summarizing the essence of the contributed point. Six of the chapters focus on the subwatersheds that make up the Coastal Bays. These chapter workshops were held in the watershed and were made up of participants from homeowner and citizen groups and local, state, and federal government agencies. The dynamic nature of the chapter workshop series resulted in the addition of a new chapter (Management of the Coastal Bays), and the combining of two previously separate chapters (Nutrient Budgets and Water Quality). The Science Communicator role included pursuing, compiling and communicating appropriate text and visual elements, including editing the contributed text to space requirements and for consistency, and creating new visual elements (e.g., conceptual diagrams, photographs, maps). Different techniques were used to determine the most effective communication. Development of a common base map for presenting GIS-based data and maintaining consistency of presentation and spelling of place names, color swatches, and fonts facilitated communication and interpretation of the data.

National Capital Region Network Regional Overview (Poster) Permanent Link

December 2006

This poster series outlines the work of the National Capital Region Network's (NCRN) Inventory and Monitoring Program. The program's role is to monitor the status and trends of the parks, their vital signs and development pressures. Park vital signs monitoring is designed to inform managers of the condition of water, air, plants and animals, and the various ecological, biological, and physical processes that act on those resources. These site-specific data will provide parks the information needed for ecologically sound management of the natural resources.

Harmful algal blooms: Maryland status and trends newsletter (Newsletter) Permanent Link

December 2006

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are growing in frequency around the world and their effects are being recognized by ecosystem managers, scientists, and the public alike. From the serious threat to public health created by seafood tainted with algal toxins, to human respiratory and skin irritations from exposures to aerosols along beaches with red tides, to stranded whales, manatees, and dolphins, to economically-devastating fish kills, these events are serious threats to the viability of our coastal systems. HPL faculty member Pat Glibert worked with IAN staff to produce this newsletter. It details the causes for HAB expansion, including increased nutrient loading from expanding human population, increased agriculture and aquaculture activities, and transportation and discharge of ballast water.

National Capital Parks-East (Poster) Permanent Link

December 2006

National Capital Parks-East includes 14 major sites covering over 8,000 acres within Washington, DC and three nearby counties in MD. The parks lie entirely within the Coastal Plain physiographic region and are managed for a variety of natural, cultural, and recreational resources. Significant natural features of the parks include sand and gravel beaches, shoreline bluffs, flood plain and upland forest, shell marl ravine forest with its associated fossil outcrops, two large river systems, and numerous streams, seeps, and wetlands. Major threats include those associated with its urban setting: overabundant deer populations, exotic species invasion, and stormwater and boundary management issues.

Seagrasses: Prairies of the Sea (Brochure) Permanent Link

December 2006

This brochure summarizes what are seagrasses, their role in the productivity of ecosystems, their importance to humans as well as a collection of fun facts.

The role of the coastal ocean in the disturbed and undisturbed nutrient and carbon cycles: A management perspective (Report) Permanent Link

Le Tissier MDA, Buddemeier R, Parslow J, Swaney DP, Crossland CJ, Smith SV, Whyte HAY, Dennison WC, Hills JM and Kremer HH (eds)

Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ)

This report was published by the Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ) project with the support of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). It provides new assessment tools for coastal management programs and discusses the key science outputs of the project. Science communicators at IAN worked with authors and designers to create nine figures for the 40-page report. These figures describe themes ranging from the features of coastal zones to terrestrial nutrient inputs.

A global crisis for seagrass ecosystems? (Presentation) Permanent Link

International Seagrass Biology Workshop 7, September 10-15, 2006, Zanzibar, Tanzania

This 27 slide presentation provides a brief evolutionary context to current stresses on seagrass systems, as well as management and restoration efforts. Despite increasing effort, broad communication about issues affecting seagrasses is lagging behind other coastal systems.

Communicating Science Effectively: A Practical Handbook for Integrating Visual Elements (Book) Permanent Link

Thomas JE, Saxby TA, Jones AB, Carruthers TJB, Abal EG and Dennison WC

IWA Publishing, London

This is a practical handbook on how to communicate science effectively. The first part is an introduction to the principles of science communication – what effective science communication is, why it is important, and how to do it. The principles in these chapters include how effective science communication can change societal paradigms and make one a better scientist. General principles relating to all science communication products include providing synthesis, visualisation, and context, assembling self-contained visual elements such as photos, maps, conceptual diagrams and data, formatting content to define and simplify terms, and eliminating jargon and acronyms. Formatting of these visual elements is also discussed.

This introduction is followed by chapters outlining techniques and principles for communicating in different media – desktop publishing (including posters and newsletters), presentations and websites. Techniques in these chapters include image, colour, and font formats, resolution and design tips for different media.

Finally, a case study is presented to illustrate how effective science communication has become an integral part of a successful environmental science, monitoring, planning, and implementation program.

The book is accompanied by extensive internet resources, including interactive software tutorials for the different software programs commonly used in communication, discussion forums for science communication issues, and links to other websites of interest.

This book will be a valuable resource for scientists, working in government, research, management agencies, and education. Although environmental scientists are the primary audience, the principles and techniques discussed are applicable to scientists from all fields.

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"Writing crystallizes thought and thought produces action." Paul J. Meyer


A goal of IAN Press is to empower scientists to directly communicate their ideas and concepts. Publications from IAN Press are designed to transform the uninterested to interested; the interested to involved and the involved to engaged.

IAN Press products are designed to be examples of good science communication principles, and the hope is that others will employ these principles so that scientific understanding can be disseminated widely as possible. The production of IAN Press communication publications involves experimentation with communication techniques and, as such, provides various ideas for science communication that can be emulated.

The comparisons and contrasts that IAN Press provides on environmental subjects intend to stimulate scientists, managers, practitioners, policy makers, students and other readers to think more broadly and expansively about the region and issues that they face. The extensive use of visual elements accesses a broader cultural diversity as well, which allow for more global perspectives.

The conclusions and recommendations presented in IAN Press publications are crafted to empower actions, plant seeds of ideas and provide justification for people to take appropriate action to find solutions to environmental problems. The conclusions are made as explicit as possible by employing active titles and featuring them prominently (e.g., front section of books or back cover of newsletters).

On costs

IAN Press does not provide author royalties and the design and layout of the publications conducted by a talented team of Science Communicators is underwritten by various grants and contracts. Marketing is limited to the internet and word-of-mouth, also reducing costs. Thus, the price of IAN Press publications is solely to reimburse the actual printing costs entailed. The intent is to provide the broadest possible readership, thus keeping costs as low as possible is paramount. Typically, full color is used, virtually on every page, which does increase print costs, however, the use of color is a key element in providing accessible information to a wide audience and the lack of author royalties or design/layout charges.

Peer review

IAN Press undertakes a rigorous review process by both peer scientists and resource managers. In addition, Integration and Application Network Science Integrators and Science Communicators read, edit and review all aspects of IAN Press publications, including text, conceptual diagrams, photographs, maps, figures and tables. Many IAN Press publications are multi-authored, and each author contributes to the review and editing of the entire publication. This is not the classical peer review system of a limited number of anonymous reviewers working with an editor to recommend changes, rather a larger number of non-anonymous reviewers that develop consensus on each word, visual element and recommendation. The review process is often accelerated by IAN Press to accommodate timely publication.


IAN Press attempts to be as authorship inclusive as possible and to provide attribution to each visual element. Authorship is not ranked or ordered, and the credibility of the IAN Press product should be based on the scientific data presented and the collective effort of a multiple of contributors, both with and without formal academic training.

Science Communicators are the key element in the production of IAN Press documents. They design the layout of the document, obtain and edit the visual elements, designate the amount and style of text, and orchestrate the review and editing process. IAN Press documents are produced using a 'storyboard' approach, in which the central message(s) are identified and various visual elements selected to support the central message(s). This is in contrast to the more traditional method of writing text and adding in visuals subsequently. In video and film production, storyboards are used and the producer is key to assembling the visual elements. Science Communicators serve in an equivalent role in terms of assembling all the pieces that go into the publication.


IAN Press relies extensively on color for photographs, maps, conceptual diagrams, figures and even text and tables to a limited degree. The use of color allows for an increased data density and provides a bigger visual impact considering the amount of the human brain devoted to visual discrimination of colors. Color allows for greater discrimination of visual elements and in data presentation, a closer juxtaposition of different elements and greater comparative utility. The preponderance of color printers and the ability of electronic versions to be displayed in color promote the inexpensive dissemination of full color documents. In order to help color-blind people compensate, an effort is made to provide other visual clues in graphics, such as symbols with different shapes or map delineations with different shading or texture, but some of the visual impact will be compromised.


IAN Press does not target a narrow, specific audience, rather attempts to be as inclusive as possible. As the world becomes more specialized, with marketing forces that promote highly targeted advertising campaigns, IAN Press products attempt to reach the broadest audience possible. IAN Press attempts to raise the bar rather than dumb down the message by using non-technical language, defining all terms and reducing acronym use. By providing synthesis, visualizations and context, we feel that relatively sophisticated concepts can be grasped by a non-technical audience. In fact, science has become highly specialized and often the language, tools and approaches used in various scientific disciplines are relatively incomprehensible to specialists in other disciplines. Thus, one audience of IAN Press is scientists from other specialties to encourage inter-disciplinary thinking and approaches.

Why use print media?

With the growing popularity of electronic media, the carbon footprint involved in producing and distributing paper products, and the ability to provide infinite resources via the web, it could be argued that IAN Press should disseminate entirely via electronic means. While IAN Press provides downloadable, web accessible materials, IAN Press continues to produces written products for the following reasons:

  1. There is rigor and discipline required in producing science communication products that have limited 'real estate', that, is limited amounts of space to convey a message. A paper product maintains focus, while web links can lead to tangential issues. The priority setting required to establish the final layout and include various communication elements is important in conveying information. Fixed 'real estate' forces condensation, synthesis and integration. Every visual element is uniquely created for the purpose of conveying the specific information intended, rather than repurposed from other sources.
  2. The written product invites non-linear reading, and a quick scan allows readers to delve into the visual elements most interesting to them. If a reader is most attracted to photographs, maps, conceptual diagrams, or figures, they can migrate to these elements and the figure legends should be self explanatory. Alternatively, if reading text is the preferred way of obtaining information, the text is designed to be self sufficient. The juxtaposition of text and various visual elements also conveys important information, something that can be lost via hyperlinks on the web. In addition, electronic books with the current technology do not support color graphics.
  3. Since various IAN Press products are intended to inform a broad community from policy makers to the general public, the weight of scientific support that can be marshaled can be a factor in empowering people to action. In order to make an impact, the difference between hundreds of web pages and hundreds of printed pages is one reason to provide print versions of IAN products. In addition, internet access is not equally applied globally or socially, and in some societies and sectors of society, a written product provides a more accessible source, particularly through libraries and schools.
  4. Printed materials provide a 'time stamp', a fixed point of time when the data are assembled and the conclusions are reached. Rather than constantly updating the data and conclusions, drawing the line in the sand as to what is known at a particular time point is what printed products do. The shelf life of science communication products should be somewhat limited due to the increased scientific understanding based on ongoing research, yet the record of what is known, and when it is known, provides an important archival body of information.
  5. "The product drives the collaborative process"; in that the science communication product forces an intensely collaborative process of obtaining and refining visual elements, drafting and editing text, and experimenting with layout and design. While this collaborative process can be conducted with the production of web materials, print deadlines are a good way to insure timely delivery. In addition, to obtain buy-in from many scientists whose training and experience are in producing printed papers and books, printed copies are often necessary.