News Article | September 13, 2016
Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Jill Stein all answered promptly and in some detail, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian, did not. Along with its partners in this effort -- a coalition of 56 leading U.S. science, medicine and engineering organizations representing more than 10 million people -- ScienceDebate.org not only calls on U.S. presidential candidates to address the 20 questions, but also encourages journalists, debate moderators and voters to press the candidates on them. "These 2- issues have at least as profound an impact on voters' lives as those more frequently covered by journalists, including candidates' views on economic policy, foreign policy, and faith and values," said ScienceDebate.org chair Shawn Otto. This view is supported by a 2015 national poll commissioned by ScienceDebate.org and Research!America which revealed that a large majority of Americans (87 percent) want candidates for President and Congress to have a basic understanding of the science informing public policy. The consortium crowd-sourced and refined hundreds of suggestions, then submitted the questions to the four campaigns along with an invitation to the candidates to discuss them on television, preferably in a live science debate (or forum) organized by the group. "Ideally, the people seeking to govern a first-world country would have a basic understanding of everything from sustainable energy to environmental threats to evidence-based medicine," observed the Des Moines Register in a recent editorial. "They would talk about these things... Imagine if the public -- and debate moderators -- pressured presidential candidates to talk about the country's electrical grid or emerging disease threats instead of abortion and transgender bathrooms. Political discourse would be smarter. And the individuals who seek the highest office in the land might learn a few things, too." The list of organizations supporting the 20 Questions project (see below) is a Who's Who of the American science enterprise. To support ScienceDebate's effort to raise awareness of the vital role science plays in modern life, visit ScienceDebate.org. Other supporters and signatories include over 20 Nobel prizewinners, major actors, university presidents, tech leaders, hospitals and hospital leaders, journalists, science activists, and dozens of other science, health, medicine, and engineering advocates from across the nation. **ScienceDebate.org *American Association for the Advancement of Science American Association of Geographers *American Chemical Society American Fisheries Society American Geophysical Union *American Geosciences Institute *American Institute of Biological Sciences American Institute of Professional Geologists American Rock Mechanics Association American Society for Engineering Education American Society of Agronomy American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists American Society of Mammalogists American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering Association for Women Geoscientists Association of Ecosystem Research Centers Automation Federation *Biophysical Society Botanical Society of America Carnegie Institution for Science Conservation Lands Foundation Crop Science Society of America Duke University Ecological Society of America Geological Society of America *IEEE-USA International Committee Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies Materials Research Society NACE International, The Worldwide Corrosion Authority *National Academy of Engineering *National Academy of Medicine *National Academy of Sciences National Cave and Karst Research Institute *National Center for Science Education National Ground Water Association Natural Science Collections Alliance Northeastern University Organization of Biological Field Stations Paleontological Society *Research!America Scientific American magazine Seismological Society of America *Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society Society for Science & the Public Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections Society of Fire Protection Engineers Society of Wetland Scientists Society of Women Engineers Soil Science Society of America SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Tufts University *Union of Concerned Scientists University City Science Center *U.S. Council on Competitiveness The Wildlife Society World Endometriosis Research Foundation America *Supplied experts to the questions development process **Lead organizer The consortium's list of 20 questions are available online at ScienceDebate.org/20answers.
News Article | March 2, 2017
Seven scientific societies are speaking out against President Donald Trump's executive order targeting the contentious Clean Water Rule. Representing more than 200,000 members total, the Society of Wetland Scientists, Ecological Society of America, American Institute of Biological Scientists, American Fisheries Society, Society for Ecological Restoration, Society for Freshwater Science and Phycological Society of America wrote a letter to Trump arguing in favor of the regulation. "As non-profit organizations, we support and foster sound science, education, restoration and management of wetlands and other aquatic resources," the letter says, adding that the regulation was written "using the best available science." Finalized by the Obama administration in May 2015, the Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the U.S. rule, or WOTUS, caught the ire of farmers, land developers and energy companies. The law was stayed in a federal court following multiple legal challenges, including one brought by now-U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt when he was Oklahoma attorney general. On Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order directing EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to review and possibly rescind or replace the regulation (E&E News PM, Feb. 28). The letter from the societies accompanies an amicus brief they filed in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to support a brief filed by the Obama administration defending the regulation earlier this year. That case has been stayed pending a Supreme Court review of whether it has jurisdiction over the regulation (Greenwire, Jan. 13). In their letter, the organizations describe the ecological importance of wetlands, which can remove otherwise harmful nutrient pollution from water, as well as the benefits wetlands provide to humans. "They store water, and thus are a source of water during times of drought," the letter says. "Many wetlands soak up runoff and floodwaters, which reduces peak flood-flows and avoids costly flood damage." Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from E&E News. Copyright 2017. E&E provides essential news for energy and environment professionals at www.eenews.net
News Article | March 3, 2017
GULFPORT, FL, March 03, 2017-- In response to President Trump's executive order targeting the Clean Water Rule, seven scientific organizations have issued a joint letter in support of protecting the nation's aquatic resources. The letter endorsed a brief filed in the Sixth Circuit in January by Stetson law professor Royal Gardner and Foreman Biodiversity Fellow Erin Okuno on behalf of water and wetland scientists in support of the Clean Water Rule."The Clean Water Rule reflects scientific reality. We need to protect streams and wetlands to protect larger, navigable waters," said Professor Gardner, director of the Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy at Stetson University.Stetson University's Dr. Kirsten Work and Dr. Benjamin Tanner were among the scientists for whom the brief was filed. Professor Steph Tai of the University of Wisconsin was a co-author of the brief.In their letter, the Society of Wetland Scientists, Ecological Society of America, American Institute of Biological Scientists, American Fisheries Society, Society for Ecological Restoration, Society for Freshwater Science and Phycological Society of America emphasized the brief's "use of sound science to explain the urgent need for the Clean Water Rule."Stetson's Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy is the winner of the American Bar Association 2016 Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy Award. The Institute serves as an interdisciplinary focal point for education, research and service activities related to global, regional and local biodiversity issues.Editor's Note:Download the brief here: http://stetson.edu/law/amicicuriae Download the letter here: http://sws.org/images/sws_documents/SocietiesLetterSupportWOTUSAmiciC ... tTrump.pdf About Stetson University College of LawStetson University College of Law, Florida's first law school, has prepared lawyers and leaders since 1900. Today, Stetson leads the nation in blending legal doctrine with practical training, evidenced by its top-ranked programs in advocacy and legal writing. Through our academically rigorous curriculum and commitment to social responsibility, Stetson lawyers are ethical advocates ready to succeed in the legal profession.
News Article | March 2, 2017
The Trump administration’s proposal to cut the Environmental Protection Agency is looking dramatic indeed. The plans call for laying off thousands of staff, eliminating entire programs and making deep cuts to the agency’s research office, the Office of Research and Development (ORD), according to recent reporting by The Washington Post. That’s not to say all of this will happen — or that any of it will. Congress makes the final decisions on funding the government. But it’s a stunning proposal to researchers familiar with the workings of the EPA. “I think a deep cut would be devastating to the nation’s capacity to do environmental health and ecosystem research,” said Jonathan Samet, a former chair of the agency’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee who is now a professor of medicine at the University of Southern California. Samet and two other former EPA science officials — Thomas A. Burke, who served as the agency’s science adviser and headed up ORD under President Barack Obama, and Bernard Goldstein, who was EPA’s assistant administrator for research and development under President Ronald Reagan — went even further in a commentary published Wednesday, calling on President Trump to change course and stand up for the agency and science. “Evidence-based decision making on the environment should not be abandoned,” the two scientists write in a timely essay in the New England Journal of Medicine. “Reasoned action and acknowledgment of scientific truth are fundamental to democracy, public health, and economic growth. Scientific evidence does not change when the administration changes.” The researchers now all hold academic posts. They describe the EPA’s Office of Research and Development as the “preeminent environmental research organization, a cornerstone of our global leadership in environmental science, and a key player in the training of environmental health scientists.” The ORD had a budget of $521 million in 2015 with a staff of 1,755. And the Post reported Wednesday that the administration is considering a proposal to cut this office by “up to 42 percent.” There are many reasons that would be devastating, Samet said in an interview. One of them is that when environmental crises happen, like the Flint, Mich., or Deepwater Horizon disasters, you need a science infrastructure that’s ready to move. In these crises “that demand research and environmental surveillance and quickly trying to assess the toxicity of agents, the nation needs the capacity that ORD has,” Samet said. Samet and his co-authors aren’t the only academic scientists standing up for the EPA right now. Others are reacting to the first of many expected environmental rollbacks — Trump’s executive order this week directing the agency to rescind the “Waters of the U.S.” rule, which sweeps many smaller waterways under the protections of the Clean Water Act. Seven presidents of scientific organizations representing more than 200,000 members have signed a letter opposing the first of many expected environmental rollbacks: Trump’s executive order this week directing the agency to rescind the “Waters of the U.S.” rule, which would protect many small waterways. The researchers argued the rule was based on solid science when it comes to the understanding of the importance of wetlands and how they relate to larger bodies of water. The scientific societies weighing in are the Society of Wetland Scientists, the American Fisheries Society, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the Ecological Society of America, the Phycological Society of America, the Society for Ecological Restoration, and the Society for Freshwater Science. The more Trump and his administration propose environmental rollbacks and cuts to environmental or other science funding, the more researchers can be expected to speak out. Thousands are expected to march on Washington, and around the globe, on April 22 — Earth Day.
News Article | January 4, 2016
However, most of the expected declines in Lake Erie will not be as extreme as some experts have predicted, according to the food-web study by the University of Michigan's Hongyan Zhang and colleagues from other American and Canadian research institutions. A few fish species, including smallmouth bass, would likely increase. The study is the first to use a food-web model to examine the likely impacts of bighead and silver carp in Lake Erie. These plankton-eating Asian carp are established in watersheds close to the Great Lakes but not in the lakes themselves. The invasive carp would likely affect Lake Erie's food web in two main ways: They would likely compete with native fish by eating their food, and juvenile Asian carp would likely become food for fish-eating fish. According to the study, walleye, rainbow trout, gizzard shad and emerald shiners could all decline, with declines in emerald shiner of up to 37 percent. Smallmouth bass stood to gain the most, with increases of up to 16 percent. A paper summarizing the findings was published online Dec. 30, 2015 in the journal Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. The model results suggest that Asian carp could eventually account for up to 34 percent of the total fish weight in the lake, said Zhang, assistant research scientist at U-M's Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research in the School of Natural Resources and Environment. "Fortunately, the percentage would not be as high as it is today in the Illinois River, where Asian carp have caused large changes in the ecosystem and have affected human use of the river," she said. Previous predictions of Asian carp impacts in the Great Lakes have ranged widely. Some experts say Asian carp could decimate Great Lakes fisheries and food webs, while others suggest the effects would likely be minor because much of the Great Lakes is not a suitable habitat for Asian carp. >Results of the new study fall somewhere between the two extremes. "This study goes beyond previous efforts in two significant ways. It focuses on the food webs and—where model input data were not available—it includes uncertainty estimates from experts," said co-author Ed Rutherford, a fisheries biologist at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) in Ann Arbor, a U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration facility. To include uncertainty in model predictions, team members interviewed 11 leading experts on Asian carp biology and Great Lakes ecology and fisheries, then incorporated the experts' estimates into the model. The experts were also asked to indicate the level of uncertainty associated with each statement they provided. "We don't know how these two Asian carp species are going to do in Lake Erie, so we have to incorporate that uncertainty into our model projections," said co-author Doran Mason, a research ecologist at GLERL. "It's like using computer models to predict a hurricane's path and intensity and including the margin of error in the forecast." The team has shared its Lake Erie results with Great Lakes resource managers to help inform decisions related to Asian carp. Of the Great Lakes, Erie may be most vulnerable to Asian carp invasion due to its proximity to waters where Asian carp exist, the presence of adequate food, and the availability of suitable spawning habitat. The same research team is now working on modeling studies to predict Asian carp impacts in lakes Michigan, Huron and Ontario, as well as a study of the regional economic impacts associated with Asian carp in Lake Erie.
News Article | December 9, 2016
Environmental DNA (eDNA), the nuclear or mitochondrial DNA shed from an organism into its environment, is a rapidly evolving tool for monitoring the distribution of aquatic species. A new study published in Transactions of the American Fisheries Society discusses the ability of eDNA to accurately predict the presence, relative abundance, and biomass of wild Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) populations. The study concluded that eDNA was an effective way to measure aquatic singles-species populations. eDNA correctly predicted the presence/absence of Brook Trout in 85.0 to 92.5 percent of the 40 streams where fish populations were surveyed. The study's lead author, Barry Baldigo, a research biologist at the US Geological Survey's New York Water Science Center, said eDNA has become an increasingly important tool for quickly and accurately assessing biodiversity in aquatic habitats. The USGS, which provides unbiased scientific information to support the management of the United States' natural resources, is working to develop, improve and apply ecological monitoring methods like eDNA. Populations of eastern brook trout, a native fish species highly sought after by anglers, have been decimated by acid rain in streams and lakes of the Adirondack Mountains where the study was conducted. The species is believed to be recovering in some areas as stream acidity declines, but confirming recovery in numerous sites across a large region using typical fish survey methods is costly and time consuming. Baldigo and his colleagues were able to evaluate brook trout abundance in 40 streams using both eDNA and standard surveys. They showed that eDNA correctly characterized brook trout populations in 10 streams where they were absent, 10 streams where they were abundant, and another 20 streams were they were present in low or moderate densities. Improvements in eDNA sampling and analysis methods over the past decade "have increased our ability to determine if a species is present or not, and its relative abundance, in aquatic habitats by analyzing a single water sample," said Baldigo. "The potential of this tool to characterize single and multiple species populations in aquatic and terrestrial habitats appears to be unlimited." Explore further: eDNA in seawater samples could reveal status of deepwater fish populations More information: Barry P. Baldigo et al. Efficacy of Environmental DNA to Detect and Quantify Brook Trout Populations in Headwater Streams of the Adirondack Mountains, New York, Transactions of the American Fisheries Society (2016). DOI: 10.1080/00028487.2016.1243578
News Article | November 7, 2016
With seafood, what you see is not always what you get. It's no secret that mislabeling is rampant around the world. Recent studies estimate up to 30 percent of seafood served in restaurants and sold in supermarkets is actually something other than what is listed on the menu or label. Why mislabeling happens is a little squishier. Fraud, human error or marketing ploys -- combined with an often multicountry traverse from boat to restaurant -- make it possible you are eating a different fish than what's on the menu. A University of Washington study is the first to broadly examine the ecological and financial impacts of seafood mislabeling. The paper, published online Nov. 2 in Conservation Letters, finds that in most cases, mislabeling actually leads people to eat more sustainably, because the substituted fish is often more plentiful and of a better conservation status than the fish on the label. "One of the motivations and hopes for this study is that we can help inform people who are trying to exert their consumer power to shift seafood markets toward carrying more sustainable options," said co-author Christine Stawitz, a UW doctoral student in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and the Quantitative Ecology and Resource Management program. The researchers, all UW graduate students in aquatic and fishery sciences, aggregated data from 43 published papers that tested the DNA of fish at various locations, including ports, restaurants, grocery stores and fish markets to determine whether mislabeling occurred. They then matched the conservation status and estimated price for each of the mislabeled and true fishes listed in the studies. They found a wide range of conservation status and price differences, but two general trends emerged: True fish sold are of a better conservation status and slightly less expensive than the species named when fish are mislabeled. "We found a lot of diversity in conservation status across taxa," said co-author Margaret Siple. "Depending on what you order or purchase, you can get a fish that is more endangered than what you ordered, or something that is actually of better conservation status. What we want to emphasize is how diverse these differences are." Their analysis found that true fish are valued at about 97 percent of the mislabeled seafood. That means consumers are paying on average a little more for mislabeled fish. The study didn't examine the potential reasons behind this, but the researchers speculate that while it could be intentional mislabeling to rip off consumers, it is just as likely restaurants and markets are serving and stocking fish they think match the label, but are cheaper, more plentiful options. A white-fish filet can look like any number of species, they explained, and substitutions could happen anywhere in the supply chain. The new study also summarizes which fish are most likely to be mislabeled and of those which varied the most in conservation status between true fish and mislabeled fish. For example, snapper is one of the most frequently mislabeled fish. Its conservation status is vulnerable to endangered -- meaning its population isn't doing well -- but the fishes most often substituted for snapper are considered critically endangered. Results from this study could be useful in helping consumers make sustainable purchasing decisions by avoiding fish that are most likely to be mislabeled. That list is led by croakers, shark catfish (or "basa"), sturgeon and perch. Consumers can also look out for fish commonly replaced with species that are not from sustainable stocks. Examples include eel, hake and snapper. These results could also help seafood certification efforts such as the Marine Stewardship Council and the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch focus efforts on fisheries that are most likely to be mislabeled, the researchers say. The Marine Stewardship Council certifies fisheries for sustainable fishing practices and follows seafood from the port to markets. This study offers information about where mislabeling might happen when products aren't tracked through the whole chain of custody. A fish often travels from the port to processors and several distributors before reaching the end market, and this change of hands is likely where mislabeling happens, the new study found. "We hope this study can help regulators understand where in the chain of custody they should be putting their efforts," Siple said. Other co-authors are Stuart Munsch and Qi Lee, both UW graduate students. The study resulted from a UW fisheries research derby, in which graduate students had 48 hours to brainstorm and begin research projects for a pressing fisheries or conservation issue. This study was funded by the UW's School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and the Washington-British Columbia Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. For more information, contact Stawitz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-617-2060 and Siple at email@example.com or 206-661-8403.
News Article | February 1, 2016
At least 17 IMWs in the Northwest are beginning to provide detailed scientific insight into how the millions of dollars invested in river and stream restoration can most effectively boost fish populations, according to the new paper published this week in Fisheries, the monthly journal of the American Fisheries Society. "The region is putting great effort into restoring rivers and streams for fish, but what everyone wants to know is, is it working, and how well?" said Stephen Bennett, a research scientist at Utah State University and lead author of the paper that also includes authors from NOAA Fisheries and state fisheries agencies in California, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. "This is the best method we have for understanding if restoration improves watershed scale productivity, how well it works, and how we can get better at it." Northwest salmon and steelhead have long suffered from habitat loss and degradation, and restoring that habitat is a key strategy for rebuilding their populations. Climate, ocean conditions, natural variability and other factors also influence their abundance, however, making it difficult to identify and quantify the specific contributions of habitat restoration. "We're looking for a long-term response to restoration from an animal that can vary widely from year to year," said George Pess, a research biologist at NOAA Fisheries' Northwest Fisheries Science Center and a coauthor of the new paper. He assisted with an IMW that tracked the return of salmon to Washington's Elwha River following the removal of two large dams in 2011. "You need sufficient time and detail to be able to say, yes, the fish are increasing and, yes, it's because of the improvements in the habitat," he said. Rivers and streams in IMWs are heavily outfitted with systems to track salmonids from fry to adults to tell how they respond to improvements such as reopening wetlands where young fish rear, removing migration barriers such as dams, and adding woody debris to create more diverse and natural stream habitat. In some cases, antennas buried in stream bottoms detect tiny electronic chips in fish each time they pass by, documenting how many use the restored habitat. With this rich data set, scientists can discern the benefits of restoration by comparing the numbers to separate "control" streams without restoration. The new paper identifies the essential elements of intensively monitored watersheds, describes the challenges involved, and reports preliminary results from those already underway, including: Research in IMWs revealed the importance of salmon diversity in some rivers and streams. For example, scientists had long thought that coho salmon that migrate to the ocean in the fall of their first year do not survive. But IMW studies have revealed that the fall fish may be important contributors to adult returns. The finding demonstrates that such diversity may be important to the long-term resilience of these fish. While the preliminary findings are promising, scientists say the most valuable data is yet to come. IMWs will help answer the key remaining question: whether the productivity of restored streams increases to the point that successive generations of fish return in larger numbers, eventually rebuilding entire populations throughout watersheds versus only short-term changes within the immediate areas where restoration occurred. Bennett said the paper published this week is designed to provide other fisheries scientists a baseline understanding of how to develop long-term ecological experiments such as IMWs, including the key challenges involved. For example, scientists must develop a thorough experimental design to gauge the effectiveness of restoration. They must also work with local landowners and watershed groups to coordinate restoration efforts on local rivers in areas and time frames the IMW studies can best detect. Explore further: Puget Sound salmon face more ups and downs in river flows More information: Stephen Bennett et al. Progress and Challenges of Testing the Effectiveness of Stream Restoration in the Pacific Northwest Using Intensively Monitored Watersheds, Fisheries (2016). DOI: 10.1080/03632415.2015.1127805
Schaffner L.C.,Virginia Institute of Marine Science |
Hartley T.W.,American Fisheries Society |
Sanders J.G.,Skidaway Institute of Oceanography
Oceanography | Year: 2016
The scope of emerging national and international ocean-related issues facing society demands that we develop broad perspectives on graduate education and training in the ocean sciences. A multifaceted ocean workforce and new kinds of intellectual partnerships are needed to address ocean science research priorities, strengthen our understanding of coupled human-natural ocean systems, engage and inform public policy and management decision making, and increase ocean literacy. Alumni from graduate programs in ocean sciences are following diverse career paths in academia, government, nongovernmental organizations, and industry, and thus can inform us about the diverse skills needed to succeed. The ocean science academic community should build on its current strengths (e.g., multidisciplinary and multi- institutional research and education, international partnerships), and capitalize on what some might view as limitations (e.g., remote, yet inviting, coastal campuses, diversity of ocean science programs), to become an incubator of innovation that will advance the field and strengthen graduate education and training. Partnerships within and among institutions with ocean-related programs, and with professional societies, employers, and others, can help us provide cutting-edge, relevant academic options, facilitate professional development, and proactively position graduates for career paths that reflect and address important societal needs. © 2016 by The Oceanography Society. All rights reserved.
News Article | January 5, 2016
Invasive Asian carp, steadily moving northward for decades, could eventually make up a third of the fish weight in Lake Erie if they successfully invade and become established there, researchers say. Voraciously consuming plants and animals that serve as food for native species as they work their way north through the Mississippi River system, the Asian carp could cause many Lake Erie native fish species to go into decline, including important commercial and sport species like walleye and rainbow trout, scientists say. That's one finding of a study by University of Michigan researchers, working with colleagues at other research institutions in America and Canada. They used a computer model to predict the likely impact on food webs if silver and bighead varieties of Asian carp gain a foothold in Lake Erie, they report in the journal Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. While some native species like walleye and trout would suffer as the carp out-compete them for food, some other fish-eating species, such as smallmouth bass, might benefit from an abundance of juvenile carp as a new food source, the researchers suggest. Still, Asian carp could eventually account for up to 34 percent of the lake's total fish weight, says UM researcher Hongyan Zhang. "Fortunately, the percentage would not be as high as it is today in the Illinois River, where Asian carp have caused large changes in the ecosystem and have affected human use of the river," she says. Experts have differed in their predictions of what impacts Asian carp could have on the Great Lakes; some believe the carp may decimate fisheries and lake food webs, while other researchers suggest the Great Lakes are not suitable carp habitat and the effects of their presence would be minor. The new study falls somewhere in between in its suggestions, the researchers say. Asian carp have established themselves in watersheds adjacent to the Great Lakes but have not been found in the lakes themselves yet, which makes the study's predictions subject to modification, they say. "We don't know how these two Asian carp species are going to do in Lake Erie, so we have to incorporate that uncertainty into our model projections," says study co-author Doran Mason, an ecologist at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. "It's like using computer models to predict a hurricane's path and intensity and including the margin of error in the forecast." The researchers are also conducting modeling studies on possible carp impacts on other Great Lakes, including Michigan, Huron and Ontario.