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A Conceptual Basis for Natural Resource Monitoring (Report) Permanent Link

Knowing the condition of natural resources in national parks is fundamental to the National Park Service's (NPS) mission to maintain park resources "unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." Most parks are open systems vulnerable to threats such as air and water pollution and invasive species, which originate outside of the park's boundaries. Understanding the dynamic nature of park ecosystems and the consequences of human activities is essential for management decision-making aimed to maintain, enhance, or restore the ecological integrity of park ecosystems. A nationwide Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) program was launched to determine status and trends of indicators (or 'vital signs') that represent the condition of park ecosystems. Vital signs monitoring is meant to provide early warning of abnormal conditions and impairment of selected resources and data to better understand the dynamic nature and condition of park ecosystems. The I&M program will ultimately help managers make better-informed decisions and work more effectively with stakeholders who benefit from proper park stewardship.

The art of science communication: creating effective posters and newsletters (Presentation) Permanent Link

IAN Science Communication course, Faro, Portugal, May 2006

This 31 slide presentation describes some of the key issues for producing posters and newsletters for effective science communication. It highlights general design principles, how to use maps and photos for context, and the judicious use of color. Many examples of layout and design are provided. The presentation finishes with a 'Reminders' list for creating effective science communication posters and newsletters.

An Eye Opening Approach to Integrated Environmental Assessments (Poster) Permanent Link

February 2006

Environmental management is not practiced in a vacuum. Effective stewardship of natural resources requires the adoption of multiple objectives set forth by diverse groups of stakeholders with varied perspectives and interests. Within this management landscape, integrated environmental assessments provide a useful framework for evaluating resources and directing management efforts. We provide a case study using examples in mid-Atlantic region national parks in which visual elements (conceptual diagrams, maps, graphs, tables, and photographs) facilitate these activities and provide an eye opening approach to more effective environmental decision-making.

Challenges to water quality monitoring in small urban parks (Presentation) Permanent Link

September 2005 Chesapeake Bay Seminar Series, Annapolis, MD

This 38 slide presentation explores some of the challenges to monitoring water quality in small urban parks. It discusses using conceptual diagrams to communicate ecological themes and facilitate coordination. Also outlined is a watershed approach to monitoring.

Creating a framework for reporting ecological conditions: National Capital Region Network of the National Park Service (Newsletter) Permanent Link

August 2005

This newsletter is the product of the May 2005 Vital Signs workshop, with participants from each of the 11 National Parks within the NCRN. The National Park Service (NPS) is implementing a series of programs designed to provide a stronger scientific basis for management actions. The Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) program was initiated in 1990 to help fulfill this mission. The intent of NPS monitoring is to track a subset of resources and processes, known as "Vital Signs," that represent overall ecological health, known or hypothesized stressors, and natural elements of important human value. The information obtained through Vital Signs monitoring will have applications for management decision-making, research, education and promoting public understanding of NPS natural resources.

The role of educators in solving coastal environmental problems: imparting knowledge, power and passion in students (Presentation) Permanent Link

July 2005 Maryland Teachers Course, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

This 46 slide presentation outlines the need for knowledge, power and passion in solving coastal environmental problems. It details the effectiveness of ecological forecasts and presents global lessons on effecting paradigm shifts.

An approach to assessing comparative ecological condition of National Capital Region parks (Presentation) Permanent Link

May 2005 NPS Vital Signs Workshop, Baltimore, MD

This 20 slide presentation explores some of the challenges and potential solutions for effective monitoring of vital signs in the 11 National Capital Region parks. It identifies the key features of each park and discusses the issues relating to Air and Climate, Geology and Soils, Water, Biological Integrity, Ecosystem Pattern and Processes.

Zen and the art of science communication at Parks Canada (Presentation) Permanent Link

April 2005 NPS Parks Canada National Ecological Integrity Forum, Victoria, BC

This 46 presentation provides inspiration to develop and enhance science communication skills. It outlines some overarching science communication principles, illustrates an effective science communication program with an environmental assessment case study, and details various conceptual diagram resources. This presentation provides a Canadian context, compared with the presentation below.

Zen and the art of science communication at National Parks (Presentation) Permanent Link

February 2005 Anuual Inventory & Monitoring, Austin, TX

This 46 slide presentation provides inspiration to develop and enhance science communication skills. It outlines some overarching science communication principles, illustrates an effective science communication program with an environmental assessment case study, and details various conceptual diagram resources.

Developing a global seagrass synthesis: Integrating ecophysiology, genetics, monitoring and management initiatives to understand and preserve seagrasses (Presentation) Permanent Link

October 2004 ISBW6 Plenary, Townsville, Australia

This 55 slide presentation discusses the rapid increase in seagrass research over past several decades and ways to facilitate integration of seagrass research, monitoring & management. It talks about the research, monitoring and management challenges and how to best integrate all three on a global scale.

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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.