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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.

Research to improve management of Atlantic menhaden in Chesapeake Bay Permanent Link

Produced in collaboration with the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office

From both an economic and ecological standpoint, Atlantic menhaden are one of the most important fish species in Chesapeake Bay. Concerns over localized depletion and a need for improved understanding of the ecological role of menhaden in Chesapeake Bay led the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to identify research needed to improve menhaden fisheries management. This newsletter provides the status of some of the resulting projects.

Maryland at Risk: Sea-level rise adaptation & response Permanent Link

Action is needed now to stem not only the drivers of climate change but also to prepare for the inevitable consequences. With over 3,000 miles of coastline, Maryland is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Historic tide-gauge records reveal that sea levels along Maryland's extensive coastline have risen approximately one foot over the past one hundred years. This relative sea level rise is due to a combination of global sea-level rise and localized land subsidence. As our climate changes, sea levels are expected to continue to rise and the rate of sea level rise is expected to increase, potentially twice as fast in the 21st century as the 20th century. Thus, sea level rise in Maryland could be another one foot by 2050 and as much as three feet by 2100. Low lying regions in Maryland will be placed further at risk due to innudation and flooding.

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.

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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.