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MMAs: What, why, and where (Report) Permanent Link

Produced by Conservation International in collaboration with the Integration & Application Network

Orbach M, Bunce Karrer L

One approach to the development of better coastal and marine policy and management is the concept of marine managed areas (MMAs). A MMA is an area of ocean, or a combination of land and ocean, where all human activities are managed toward common goals. MMAs are a form of ecosystem-based management, where all elements—biophysical, human, and institutional—of a particular system are considered together. This document describes what MMAs are, why they are important, and where they are implemented.

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Conceptual Diagrams: Tools for Science Communication (Newsletter) Permanent Link

Conceptual diagrams are an excellent means of providing synthesis, visualization, and appropriate context to science communication, an essential component of environmental problem solving. The creation of conceptual diagrams provides an interface for engagement of various stakeholders, including scientists, managers, and wider public partners. This newsletter discusses how symbols form a visual language, the difference between models and diagrams, how conceptual diagrams fit many applications, and how you can use IAN's symbol libraries to make your own conceptual diagram.

Proposal writing: A key to success (Presentation) Permanent Link

Presented to the 2010 REU students

This presentation details the key elements of successful proposals. It provides simple techniques to improve your proposal writing, including thought development, the iterative process, reviewing the appropriate literature, explicitly stating the hypotheses and the zen of proposal writing. There is also a video version of Bill presenting this available on our blog.

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Integrating and Applying Science: A handbook for effective coastal ecosystem assessment (Book) Permanent Link

B.J. Longstaff, T.J.B. Carruthers, W.C. Dennison, T.R. Lookingbill, J.M. Hawkey, J.E. Thomas, E.C. Wicks, J. Woerner

Vast areas of the globe's coastal zone have experienced significant declines in ecosystem health. Deteriorating water quality, loss and alteration of vital habitats, and reduced populations of fish and shellfish are some of the major changes recorded. Establishing and running an effective assessment program is a complex process that necessitates strategic collaboration and partnerships between many individuals and agencies. This book was written to make the process of running a coastal assessment program easier and the outcomes more effective. It provides a step-by-step approach from data collection and information management to synthesis and application and draws on the knowledge of a variety of coastal scientists and managers.

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Getting out of the Lake and into the Watershed: a study of volunteer monitoring efforts, water quality, and community outreach (Presentation) Permanent Link

Sara Powell, IAN Seminar Series, February, 2010

This presentation is also available on the IAN Seminar Series page, where you can access the video and audio only versions, as well as transcript and discussion notes. In 2008, an innovative partnership between the University of South Carolina and Lake Wateree, SC homeowners began in order to restart previously existing water quality monitoring efforts, provide data analysis, and make resulting information easily accessible to stakeholders. This project explored effective ways to foster links between 'science' and people - i.e. how to most effectively communicate scientific concepts and monitoring results to stakeholders addressing real world concerns.

Closing the coastal charisma gap: how to integrate seagrasses into the public dialog on coastal ecosystems (Presentation) Permanent Link

Presented at the 2009 Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) conference in Portland, Oregon

Dennison WC

In a comparison between seagrasses, salt marshes, mangrove forests and coral reefs, the ratio of popular media reports to scientific publication rates of seagrasses were much lower than other coastal habitats. To overcome the lack of "charisma" for seagrass ecosystems, a concerted dissemination strategy aimed at the popular media is required. The seagrass literature of peer reviewed publications and books has historically been targeted toward other seagrass researchers. In order to reach out beyond this small demographic, publications aimed at non-seagrass scientists need to be generated. In addition, scientific publications about seagrasses could be targeted to non-seagrass scientists, providing more awareness within the scientific community.

Global seagrass trajectories: a closer look in relation to future monitoring (Presentation) Permanent Link

Presented at the 2009 Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) conference in Portland, Oregon

Carruthers TJB, Kendrick G, Waycott M, Olyarnik S, Dennison WC, Duarte C, Orth RJ, Fourqurean J, Heck K, Hughes R, Kenworthy J, Short F, Williams S

Seagrass habitats, like other major coastal communities, are under threat globally. Losses are orders of magnitude greater than recovery or gains, suggesting a poor prognosis for global seagrass persistence. While this recognition is essential to raise awareness of the broad impacts of the loss of seagrass habitats, especially considering the unobtrusive nature and apparent invisibility of this coastal habitat, it does not provide insight on how to address the challenge of reducing losses and enhancing gains. The present paper analyzes the nature of declining and increasing seagrass trajectories, linking these trajectories to geographic and seagrass physiological patterns as well as types of stressors, to provide insight on better ways to manage seagrass habitats globally.

Creating new opportunities for adaptive management: partnerships between government agencies and watershed organizations (Presentation) Permanent Link

Presented at the 2009 Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) conference in Portland, Oregon

Wicks EC, Davis J, Dennison WC, Kelsey RH, Longstaff BJ, Nauman EG and Walls B

Working with watershed organizations to produce tributary-specific report cards is a mechanism for adaptive management. Most of these organizations have objectives that include informing and engaging local citizens and local decision-makers. These objectives fit well with adaptive management goals of state and federal agencies. Additionally, by partnering with these organizations, resources (i.e., funding, data, and knowledge) can be leveraged to enhance the impact on management actions. In the Chesapeake Bay region, watershed organizations, Riverkeepers®, and state and federal agencies have formed a group to foster the incorporation of citizen monitoring data into report cards. The process of developing a science-based report card includes incorporating citizen monitoring data, local knowledge of the system, and connections to county-level management actions.

Predicting Criteria Achievement Under Management Scenarios: Model Simulations Inform Monitoring Data (Presentation) Permanent Link

Presented at the 2009 Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) conference in Portland, Oregon

Shenk G and Keisman JL

Chesapeake Bay Program partners have codified numeric water quality standards for several major indicators of ecosystem health, including dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration and chlorophyll a concentration. The ability to project the management actions required to attain restored conditions per these standards is critical to Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. To meet this need, we developed a method that estimates the response of the system to reductions in nutrient and sediment loads. The method uses output from the Cheapeake Bay's Water Quality Sediment Transport Model (WQSTM) under different load scenarios to modify monitoring observations in the direction predicted by the simulation. Observations are "scenarioed" and the resulting dataset is used to assess attainment of water quality standards assuming various levels and combinations of nutrient and sediment load reductions.

Unlimited Access: Using collaborative products to make current scientific knowledge more accessible (Poster) Permanent Link

Poster presented at the 2009 Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) conference in Portland, Oregon

Woerner JL, Bishop T, Carruthers TJB, Dennison WC, Gurbisz C and Murray L

An ever growing number of scientists recognize the need to increase awareness about ocean science research, especially in regard to policy initiatives on climate change. However, scientists may find it difficult to reach an audience outside of their community. At the same time, educators are searching for accurate and engaging science education resources to inspire students to become interested in scientific discovery. Collaborations between scientists and educators can meet both of these needs and provide unlimited access for students to learn about science. The scientist–educator fellowship teams, sponsored by COSEE Coastal Trends, have an ocean science researcher, a 7th–12th grade educator, a graduate student, and an undergraduate student.

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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.