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Economic incentives motivate human behavior change Permanent Link

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

Encouraging local marine resource users to adopt sustainable practices that conserve biodiversity and habitat is the challenge faced by all marine managed areas worldwide. Using three different approaches to motivating behavior changes, 27 case studies were selected for review. This newsletter focuses on the design and success of those approaches as they were employed in three locations: Morro Bay, California; Laguna San Ignacio, Mexico; and Kubulau, Fiji.



Adapting to climate change Permanent Link

Maintaining ecosystem services for human well-being in the Verde Island Passage, Philippines

This newsletter summarizes the report by the same name that represents the climate change vulnerability assessment project conducted by Conservation International in the Verde Island Passage in 2009. It reviews the multiple impacts that threaten the natural resources of this area, while focusing on climate change effects in particular. The Verde Island Passage has highly diverse coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass meadows, as well as millions of people who rely on the health and sustainability of the marine resources for their livelihood.



Nitrogen in the Chesapeake Bay: A Retrospective Permanent Link

Produced by EcoCheck (NOAA-UMCES partnership)

Nitrogen pollution has been a primary cause of a degraded Chesapeake Bay ecosystem for over a century. Since the Clean Water Act of 1972, Bay monitoring programs have measured the amount of nitrogen coming from human activities and on land (urban, suburban, rural, and industrial) and from natural cycling in the water column. This information is used to evaluate management actions for nutrient reduction. This newsletter summarizes monitoring data and describes nitrogen trends in both the non-tidal and tidal areas of the Chesapeake Bay.



Conceptual Diagrams: Tools for Science Communication 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.



A Guide to the Mid-Atlantic Tributary Report Cards Permanent Link

Produced by EcoCheck (NOAA-UMCES partnership)

A variety of organizations, both government and citizen-led, monitor the health of streams, rivers, and other waterbodies in the mid-Atlantic region. Recently, a number of groups concerned with the health of watersheds in the Chesapeake Bay region have begun to produce ecosystem health report cards much like EcoCheck’s annual Chesapeake Bay report card. The goal of this newsletter is to highlight these report cards as well as the efforts of the Mid-Atlantic Tributary Assessment Coalition (MTAC). MTAC is working to further coordinate and strengthen the assessment capabilities of the tributary groups and to integrate their data with the Bay-wide report card.



Toxic cyanobacteria blooms degrade ecosystem in coastal Florida Permanent Link

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) have increased in abundance and severity around the world in recent decades. Among coastal HABs, benthic cyanobacteria blooms, particularly Lyngbya spp., are becoming more numerous and persistent in tropical and subtropical environments. These species have become increasingly problematic in the near-shore waters of Florida, and it has been suggested that this may be in part caused by nutrient enrichment resulting from highly developed coastal habitats. Both climate change and anthropogenically derived nutrients provide the potential for increases in these nuisance blooms. This newsletter summarizes the findings of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ecology of Harmful Algae Bloom Program (NOAA-ECOHAB) funded study.



Research findings for key bay fisheries species Permanent Link

NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office 2009 Fisheries Science Symposium

Fisheries research funded by the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO) provides science and information to enable natural resource managers to make informed decisions. The NCBO Fisheries Science Symposium is a chance for fisheries scientists in the Bay area to present their research findings and create collaborations. This document is an EcoCheck/NCBO collaboration and summarizes some of the key topics presented at the 2009 symposium.



Development of water transparency criteria for Florida seagrasses Permanent Link

Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Integration and Application Network

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is developing a new transparency standard for marine waters that will protect the seagrass species found throughout the state. The current transparency standard does not sufficiently protect seagrasses, and the new standard will help DEP identify waters in which transparency is too low for healthy seagrass beds. A workshop of experts was convened by DEP to determine what factors affect light in seagrass beds, and what transparency criteria have already been established for individual systems. This newsletter summarizes that workshop and discusses how DEP will use this knowledge to set transparency criteria for seagrasses in Florida.



New Stream Health Indicator Being Developed Permanent Link

Produced by EcoCheck in collaboration with Katie Foreman, Claire Buchanan,
and Scott Phillips

The Chesapeake Bay Program and its partners developed an improved stream health indicator that provides a regional assessment of benthic (bottom-dwelling) macroinvertebrate community health. Benthic data collected in different ways by various natural resource agencies were incorporated into a Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity that rates stream health across the entire 64,000 square miles of watershed that drain into Chesapeake Bay. Overall, the analysis showed that out of 3,291 sampling sites in the watershed, 1,632 of the sites had very poor or poor conditions and 1,056 sites had good or excellent conditions. For further information, visit the Stream Health Indicator website.



Northern Great Plains Network: Using conceptual diagrams to aid communication Permanent Link

Produced in collaboration with the National Park Service NGPN Inventory & Monitoring Program and with the support of the Chesapeake Watershed Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit

Conceptual diagrams are effective tools in identifying resource condition trends and for communicating inventory and monitoring data back to national park management and the general public. This newsletter presents the project results from an IAN collaboration with four National Park Service (NPS) Northern Great Plains Network (NGPN) park units and the NGPN Inventory & Monitoring (I&M) Program. The diagrams detail the parks' current collective knowledge and highlight key resources and threats in and around these parks.



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About

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

Goals

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.

Authorship

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.

Color

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.

Audience

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.