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Upstream land use affects water quality in Maryland's Coastal Bays Permanent Link

Coastal lagoon ecosystems across the Delmarva Peninsula are rapidly evolving due to changing land use patterns and shifts towards intensive agriculture, particularly poultry production, and intensive rural-resi­dential development. These changes in the coastal lagoon seascape are especially evident in the northern Coastal Bays watershed of St. Martin River. This region is intensely developed in areas such as the Ocean Pines canal community, is composed of a high percentage of crop agriculture, and contains a number of poultry feeding operations. Water quality degradation continues to be an important issue in the watershed. This newsletter examines how upstream land use affects water quality.



Chesapeake Bay 2007: Land Use and the Chesapeake Bay Report Card Permanent Link

Produced by EcoCheck and the Integration and Application Network in collaboration with the Chesapeake Bay Program's Monitoring and Analysis Workgroup

The report card aims to inform citizens on the progress Chesapeake Bay is making toward becoming a healthy ecosystem. This year's report card shows that the health of the Bay improved slightly in 2007 when compared to 2006. While the overall health of the Bay and most regions of the Bay improved, the health of some regions of the Bay declined. This newsletter also explores some of the long-term changes in report card scores, making a connection between the scores and influencing factors such as land use and nutrient loads.



Reef Plan Monitoring: Marine Water Quality Impacts Permanent Link

March 2008

The Marine Monitoring Program is a long-term water quality and ecosystem heath monitoring program carried out in the inshore region of the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon. The program is an integral component of the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan, that will help to assess the long-term effectiveness of Reef Plan in reversing decline in the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is responsible for the design, implementation and reporting of the monitoring program. This newsletter summarizes the outcomes from the Marine Integration Workshop.



Inventory and Monitoring Program, Pacific Island Network, National Park Service 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.



A summer of poor water clarity, algal blooms, and fish kills Permanent Link

Produced by EcoCheck in collaboration with the Chesapeake Bay Program's Monitoring and Analysis Workgroup

This year's drought led to lower than normal nutrient and sediment discharge into the Bay during the summer. With fewer sediments and nutrients entering the Bay, the health of the Bay may have been expected to improve, however, this was not the case for water clarity, harmful algal blooms, and fish kills. While dissolved oxygen in the mainstem was still poor this summer, the volume of oxygen depleted water was relatively small compared to the past 22 years. This newsletter summarizes summer conditions, offers some explanations as to why they may have occurred, and compares observations to the forecast made this past spring.



Incorporating habitat into ecosystem-based fisheries management: Habitat matters! Permanent Link

Author(s): Wicks EC, Boicourt K, Longstaff BJ and Townsend H

Habitat consists of the physical, chemical, and biological components that are necessary for the survival and growth of organisms in an ecosystem. In an estuary, habitat provides food and shelter for invertebrates, shellfish, and fish. Habitat is an integral part of an ecosystem, and assessing habitats is important in determining ecosystem health. This newsletter describes the steps in determining optimal habitat conditions, discusses the practical reality of measuring habitats in complex ecosystems, and provides an example of a habitat suitability model. This effort was in collaboration with NOAA's Chesapeake Bay Office.



Asian oysters: Science to inform policy decisions Permanent Link

Author(s): O'Herron M, King J, Wicks EC, Bushek D and Carnegie R

This is a three part series on the Asian oyster Environmental Impact Statement. It has been proposed to introduce the Asian oyster (Crassostrea ariakensis) into Chesapeake Bay as one potential solution to the loss of the historic oyster fishery, and the ecological functions that oysters perform for Chesapeake Bay. The three newsletters summarize the research topics addressed in the EIS and discuss the current findings on interactions between the Asian oyster and the native oyster and the implications of an introduction on oyster disease. This effort was in collaboration with NOAA's Chesapeake Bay Office.



Protecting Palau's natural heritage Permanent Link

August 2007

The Republic of Palau, an island nation in the tropical western Pacific Ocean, harbors diverse mangrove, seagrass, and coral communities. Palau is at a crossroads due to improved access to, and development of, its largest island, Babeldaob. This is leading to increased sediment runoff, particularly in the Ngerikiil River/Airai Bay watershed, the most developed region of Babeldaob Island. The Palau Conservation Society and partners are making strides in management, research, and monitoring to focus attention and prevent further degradation of Palau's tremendous natural heritage.



Chesapeake Bay 2007: Summer Ecological Forecast Permanent Link

Produced by EcoCheck in collaboration with the Chesapeake Bay Program

This newsletter describes forecasts of Chesapeake Bay 2007 summer ecological conditions. Forecasts of three important Bay health indicators are provided–dissolved oxygen (DO), harmful algal blooms (HABs), and changes in aquatic grass distribution. This summer it is predicted that (1) the amount of anoxia (no dissolved oxygen) will be moderate in the Bay’s mainstem and small in the Rappahannock River, (2) the extent and duration of HABs in the Potomac River will be average, and (3) aquatic grasses in the northern Bay, lower Potomac River, and Tangier Sound will undergo no or minimal recovery from losses sustained last year. Learn more about the forecast and the supporting material by visiting the forecast website.



Breath of Life: Dissolved oxygen in Chesapeake Bay Permanent Link

Author(s): Wicks EC, Jasinski DA and Longstaff BJ

This newsletter describes why dissolved oxygen is an important indicator of ecosystem health. It focuses on dissolved oxygen in Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and describes the factors that affect dissolved oxygen. Additionally, the management decisions and actions that are being taken to reduce the amount of low dissolved oxygen in the Bay are described.



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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.