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A vision for effective and streamlined reporting in the Pacific Permanent Link

The burden of global, regional, and project reporting has been a longstanding concern of Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs), particularly on Smaller Island States (SIS). This newsletter uses an environmental case study to showcase how a simple, targeted, and strategic monitoring and reporting framework can facilitate streamlined reporting by allowing data and information to be used for multiple reporting requirements.

Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund Permanent Link

The Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund was created in 2007 in an effort to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution to these bays. The Trust Fund has focused its financial resources on the implementation of effective non-point (i.e., diffuse) source pollution control projects in high priority watersheds. This newsletter details examples of projects supported by the Trust Fund including stream channel restorations, stormwater retrofits, and cover crops.

South East Queensland Floods 2011 Permanent Link

Mud, nutrients and coral

Udy J and Soustal N

SEQ Healthy Waterways Partnership

During the January 2011 flood, millions of tonnes of soil were washed from the upper catchments into the Brisbane River by fast flowing flood waters. The soil formed a brown plume which extended from the river mouth into Moreton Bay. As the flow of the water slowed, fine soil particles (mud) settled within the Brisbane Estuary and Moreton Bay. As a result, many kilometres of the once sandy bottom of the Bay are now covered by a thick mud layer loaded with nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen. This newsletter explores the short and long term impacts of the mud and nutrients on aquatic habitats, and the animals and plants living within them. The impacts include: mud smothering the bottom of Moreton Bay, excess nutrients and nuisance algae blooms, corals with signs of stress such as bleaching.

A vision for the Gulf of Mexico Report Card Permanent Link

McKinney L, Tunnell W, Harwell M, Gentile J, Dennison WC, Kelsey RH, Thomas JE

The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, has partnered with IAN and Harwell Gentile & Associates, LC, to develop a vision for a report card on the health of the Gulf of Mexico. The report card will be a graphical representation of the environmental condition of the Gulf that is scientifically based, widely accessible, and readily understandable by policy-makers, stakeholders, scientists, and, most importantly, the general public. The vision document uses birds and seagrass ecosystems as prototypes for two components of the report card. The Report Card prototype was unveiled on December 7 at the Gulf of Mexico Summit in Houston, TX. Next steps include engaging the science community to divide the Gulf into manageable components based on habitats, geographical and/or political boundaries, and develop metrics to assess each component.

Healthy Darwin Harbour: Pathways and Partnerships Permanent Link

Darwin Harbour is globally significant as a tropical, macrotidal, monsoonal harbour that is generally in very good condition. There are major development proposals for Darwin Harbour, including significant plans for population growth, industrial expansion and resource processing infrastructure, and consequent increases in shipping and dredging. These developments pose risks for the natural, cultural, aesthetic and recreational values of the Harbour, which need to be managed. This newsletter introduces research and monitoring partnerships and priorities that will be developed over coming months to establish a strategic, long-term, integrated monitoring and research program for the benefit of Darwin Harbour and its stakeholders.

Creating a Shared Vision for the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac Region Permanent Link

Mackay-Whitsundays-Isaac Healthy Waterways Alliance

The Mackay-Whitsundays-Isaac region is diverse, with rainforests, ranges, creeks and rivers, wetlands, beaches, islands and reefs which support high biodiversity. The region supports productive agriculture, particularly grazing and sugarcane, as well as expanding urban centres. The Mackay-Whitsundays-Isaac region is rapidly developing due to economic development, climate, livability and natural beauty. This region is expected to double in population within twenty five years. These population pressures combined with climate change produce environmental challenges for the region. The Healthy Waterways Alliance was created to engage a wide range of stakeholders in charting a future which promotes sustainable development with resilient waterways and ecosystems.

Total Maximum Daily Loads: A citizen's guide to the Chesapeake Bay TMDL Permanent Link

EcoCheck in collaboration with the Chesapeake Bay Program

Residents of the Chesapeake Bay watershed depend upon a healthy Bay for food, recreation, and commercial enterprises. But the ways in which we use the watershed’s lands—from driving our cars to spreading fertilizers—impact the health of the Bay’s waters. Wastewater treatment plants, agricultural operations, and urban runoff are major sources of the nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution that threaten the Bay’s health. The Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is designed to restore the health of the Bay’s waters by reducing the pollution from these and other sources.

South East Queensland Floods 2011 Permanent Link

Seagrasses, turtles and dugongs

Dennison WC, Udy, J

SEQ Healthy Waterways Partnership

Moreton Bay is internationally recognised for its large population of green sea turtles and dugongs, and for its unique location next to a major capital city. Following the January flood, there has been serious concern about the impact of the flood plume on these symbolic Moreton Bay creatures. This newsletter provides an overview of some of the initial flood impact assessment results for seagrasses, turtles and dugongs, and identifies the risks that need to be monitored. For further infomation, see the associated blog posts.

Deep Creek Lake Baseline Condition Assessment Permanent Link

Powell SL and Kelsey RH

This newsletter summarizes the baseline health assessment produced in 2011 by EcoCheck for Friends of Deep Creek Lake in preparation for production of future annual lake report cards. A unique assessment framework and preliminary data analysis results are presented, along with suggestions for future work and action items for concerned citizens. For further details, see the full assessment document.


South East Queensland Floods 2011 Permanent Link

Creeks, streambanks and paddocks

Crimp O, Dennison WC, Olley J, Saxton N, Layden I, McKew T, Hill A, Udy J, Walker A

SEQ Healthy Waterways Partnership

Intense rainfall between 10-12 January 2011 caused flash and river flooding throughout the region. This newsletter focuses on the flood impacts on creeks, streambanks and paddocks. The floods caused significant impacts to waterways and the adjacent floodplains. The greatest impacts occurred in the Lockyer, Mid and Upper Brisbane and Bremer catchments with devastating loss of life and significant environmental damage. Across the catchments, there has been widespread loss of topsoil, streambank erosion, gully expansion, landslips, sediment redistribution, channel redirection and vegetation removal. For further infomation, see the associated blog posts.

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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.