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Getting out of the Lake and into the Watershed: a study of volunteer monitoring efforts, water quality, and community outreach 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.

Integration and Application Network (IAN): 2010 Administrative Review Permanent Link

This presentation gives an overview the history and future goals of the Integration and Application Network. It highlights the achievements so far; science communication products, peer review publications, ecohealth report cards, websites, eNewsletters, science communication courses, and media citations. It also details IAN's unique focus, academic affiliations and capabilities.

Chesapeake Bay health:What causes positive and negative trajectories? Permanent Link

IAN Seminar Series, January, 2010

Dennison WC

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. The Chesapeake Bay Health index, comprised of three water quality indicators (water clarity, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll a) and three biotic indicators (submerged aquatic vegetation, benthic index of biotic integrity, phytoplankton index of biotic integrity) was calculated for 15 reporting regions to produce annual report cards. Using the same set of indicators, the Bay Health Index was calculated for previous years that data were collected by the Chesapeake Bay Program. An analysis of the data over time reveals some significant positive and negative trajectories.

Closing the coastal charisma gap: how to integrate seagrasses into the public dialog on coastal ecosystems 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 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.

Beach and shellfish forecasts using integrated data from monitoring programs, remote sensing, and observing systems Permanent Link

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

Kelsey RH, Porter DE, Fletcher M, Scott GI, Cothran J, Hibbert J, MacDonald E, Johnson E, Ramage D and Shervette V

Empirical models were developed at South Carolina beaches and estuaries to create daily forecasts of bacterial water quality for use as decision support tools. These tools predict exceedance of bacteria criteria using integrated monitoring data, remote sensing, and meteorology information. The models developed for beach areas used precipitation data from a rain gauge network, tide data, and qualitative weather information to predict criterion exceedance. Current efforts on these tools include integrating data from ocean observing systems and precipitation data from remote sensing products to create near-real time prediction updates presented in a web-based GIS. Similar predictive models for fecal coliform bacteria concentration were developed using integrated data from monitoring programs, meteorology, and remote sensing. These two related modeling efforts highlight the utility and feasibility of integrating data from observing systems and remote sensing to create empirically-based decision support tools.

Variations of δ15N in eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) as a baseline to assess waste nitrogen sources Permanent Link

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

Fertig BM, Carruthers TJB, Dennison WC, Altabet MA and Fertig EJ

Stable nitrogen isotopes (δ15N) in various plant and animal species are becoming more commonly measured to indicate sources of human and animal wastes biologically incorporated in aquatic ecosystems. δ15N in the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, was examined at three spatial scales. Oysters suspended above the bottom were deployed within Monie Bay, Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, in Maryland's Coastal Bays, and in Chesapeake Bay. At all locations, δ15N in Crassostrea virginica offered a powerful tool for identifying and monitoring human and animal waste sources of nitrogen in aquatic systems. By deploying sessile filter feeders, these nitrogen sources can be interpolated spatially and integrated temporally to elucidate and focus nutrient reduction efforts on nitrogen sources that are biologically incorporated at different spatial scales.

Creating new opportunities for adaptive management: partnerships between government agencies and watershed organizations 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.

Geographic Region Isolation Runs for Developing Nutrient Load Allocations for the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Permanent Link

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

Wu J, Wang P, Shenk G and Linker L

Excessive nutrients in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries promote undesirable water quality conditions such as excessive algal growth, low dissolved oxygen and reduced water clarity. In developing science-based loading allocations, it was key to understand which major basins affect which areas of the Bay and by how much. A series of geographic isolation runs with the Chesapeake Bay Water Quality Model was performed to estimate the water quality improvement from reductions for each major basin. The 'relative impact' of each basin was calculated as the change in the dissolved oxygen concentration in the identified segments of the mainstem Chesapeake Bay normalized by the combined nitrogen and phosphorus load reduced from that basin. This formed the scientific basis for allocating nutrient loads among major basins, with the principal that basins with the greatest impact must achieve the highest load reductions toward achieving final water quality goals.

A Chesapeake Bay Basin-wide Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity Permanent Link

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

Foreman KL, Buchanan C and Nagel A

The Chesapeake Bay Program and its partners developed a benthic index of biotic integrity (B-IBI) that provides a regional assessment of the health of the streams and rivers in the watershed. More than ten state, federal, and local monitoring programs collect benthic macroinvertebrate samples in the 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay watershed. These programs use somewhat similar field methods and calculate a common suite of indicators from the data. The challenge is that each program uses different protocols to score and evaluate these indicators in order to identify "impaired" waters for regulatory requirements. The purpose of this new B-IBI is to evaluate non-tidal benthic community health in a uniform manner and in the context of the entire watershed. Future work will link the biological health of the Chesapeake Bay to its draining watershed by comparing this non-tidal B-IBI to the tidal benthic macroinvertebrate monitoring results.

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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.