Plenary Lectures

Plenary lectures will be held each day Monday through Friday. Please click on the dates shown below to view recorded videos of the plenary presentations.

Monday, 9 June 2008

James Kitchell

James Kitchell

University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA

Food Webs and Fisheries in the Ecosystem Context

Abstract: Experimental manipulation of food web structure in small lakes revealed the mechanisms that can alter ecosystem dynamics. Fishery exploitation effects were among the potentially powerful causes of changes at all trophic levels. Contemporary fishery management practices include an emphasis on ecosystem-scale considerations, but those are not readily amenable to experimental study in large lakes and/or marine ecosystems. Models can provide a means for testing the role of fishery exploitation in food web dynamics, for evaluating the outcomes of alternative conservation policies and for forecasting the ecological effects of new fishery management practices. This talk will present examples of those approaches. Among those are controls of eutrophication, effects of invasive species in lakes, identification of keystone predators in pelagic systems, targeting of conservation efforts on protected species (e.g., billfishes or sea turtles), and large-scale use of marine protected areas. Outcomes include trade-offs between economic or conservation gains and ecosystem effects. A key to understanding resides in recognizing the conflict between goals of conservation/restoration advocates and those of government-mandated harvest policies.

Biography: Jim Kitchell received his PhD from the University of Colorado in 1970 and has been at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since then. He is the Hasler Professor of Zoology and Director, Center for Limnology. His research emphasizes predator-prey interactions, food web structure, and the role of trophic interactions in ecosystem dynamics. He works on bioenergetics and food web modeling techniques that allow quantitative estimates of interaction strength and is involved in large-scale experimental manipulation of lakes as a test of the ideas developed through modeling.

His current research includes work on Lake Superior, field programs on experimental lakes located in northern Wisconsin, and a modeling project focused on apex predators in the central Pacific. He served on a number of Science Advisory Boards, seven NSF panels, and the NRC's Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology. He has led NCEAS-sponsored working groups since 1997, each of which has focused on the role of fishery exploitation as a major ecological force. In 2003, the American Fisheries Society presented him with the Award of Excellence in Career Achievement.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Peter J. le B. Williams

Peter J. le B. Williams

School of Ocean Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor, UK, and

A Look Back at the Major Advances over the Past 25 years in Limnology and Oceanography

Abstract: This session will review the major technical and intellectual advances and significant discoveries in the fields of Oceanography and Limnology over the past quarter century. In doing so, it will explore across the disciplines of physics, chemistry, geology, biology and the computational sciences, parallel developments in the two broad study areas and, in particular, where there have been transfers of technology and concepts between the two fields.

Williams Biography: Peter Williams joined the Bangor University as Professor of Marine Biology, later to be Professor of Marine Biogeochemistry. His original training was as an industrial biochemist, but on graduating he rightly came to the view that oceanography offered more interesting challenges than food technology. His entry into oceanography was enabled by a Post Doctorate fellowship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. From there, he moved to the then just formed Department of Oceanography at Southampton University; where he remained for some 17 years. Then followed 2-year spells at the Bigelow Lab in Maine and as Professor of Marine Microbiology at the University of Gothenburg. In 1986, he returned to the UK to the Marine Sciences Laboratory where he remained until retirement. On retirement, he was awarded emeritus professor status.

His initial research interest was in the dynamics of DOC and its composition as food for marine bacteria. This led him to be one of a group of people who drove through the new and the present paradigm of the role of bacteria in the planktonic food web. From this his interest broadened to overall heterotrophic metabolism - respiration. To enable this work, he developed an ultra high precision analytical method for the analysis of oxygen concentrations in seawater and the group he assembled became leaders in this field. This work led on to the question of the balance of metabolism (photosynthesis versus respiration) in the oceans and Peter played a leading role in the debate over purported ocean heterotrophy. He has co-edited and published a number of books, the most recent being: Phytoplankton Productivity: Carbon Assimilation in Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems" (2002), "Respiration in Aquatic Ecosystems" (2005) and "Marine Ecology - Processes, Systems, and Impacts" (2005).

He also has an interest in the interplay between art and science and organized a highly successful Art Exhibition "Plankton as an Artistic Inspiration" at the February 2007 Ocean Sciences Meeting of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography in Santa Fe.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Elizabeth A. Canuel

Elizabeth A. Canuel

Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, VA, USA

Organic Carbon Composition in the Coastal Zone: Insights Gained Through Biomarker Studies

Abstract: Human activities have modified the sources and cycling of organic carbon throughout the world's coastal zone by altering flows of carbon and nutrients, sediment and associated materials, and by introducing contaminants and other anthropogenic compounds. Organic geochemistry offers novel tools and insights for understanding these changes to the carbon cycle by tracing source-specific components of organic matter. This talk will focus on studies of carbon cycling in Chesapeake Bay and San Francisco Bay, the largest estuaries in the continental U.S.A., and model systems for understanding how human activities influence the composition of organic carbon. Molecular tracers (“biomarkers”), together with stable and radiocarbon isotopes, demonstrate how organic matter composition changes along the salinity continuum, and the ecological consequences of those changes will be discussed. By integrating these approaches with sediment core chronologies, we identified changes in the accumulation of total sediment and organic carbon. Additionally, biomarkers document shifts in the relative abundance of carbon from aquatic, terrigenous and anthropogenic sources in response to changes in land use and human activities over historical time scales. Results from these studies of biomarkers and isotopes provide insights about: (1) the sources of carbon currently supporting these ecosystems, (2) how carbon sources have changed in response to past human activities, and (3) the role these ecosystems as sources or sinks in the global carbon cycle.

Biography: Dr. Elizabeth Canuel is an organic geochemist and chemical oceanographer with expertise studying the sources and cycling of organic carbon in aquatic environments. Her research uses naturally occurring isotopes and lipid biomarkers (chemical fossils that identify different sources of organic matter) to study controls on organic matter cycling at both modern and geologic time scales. She also uses experiments to study the influence of food web interactions on coastal and estuarine sediment organic matter composition and studies organic matter diagenesis using sediment cores. Her long-term research addresses how human activities influence the carbon cycle and their implications for predicting future environmental change.

Dr. Canuel is the author of over 40 peer-reviewed articles, has co-edited two special journal issues, and is coauthor of a forthcoming book entitled, "Chemical Biomarkers in Aquatic Ecosystems." She has served as Associate Editor of the journals Limnology & Oceanography and Organic Geochemistry. Her interests also include ocean science education and efforts to expand the participation of under-represented groups. She was director of the NSF sponsored program, Female Initiation into Research, Science and Technology (FIRST), which provided research experiences in marine chemistry/geochemistry for high school girls. She has received numerous awards including a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, the Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award, the William and Mary Alumni Fellowship Award for teaching, and was twice awarded the Dean's Prize for the Advancement of Women in Marine Science. Dr. Canuel earned her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and was a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park CA. She is currently Professor of Marine Science in the Department of Physical Sciences at the College of William and Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Warwick Vincent

Laval University, Québec City, Canada

Extreme Ecosystems: Limnological Change at Canada's Northern Edge

Abstract: The northern coastline of the Canadian High Arctic is a region of diverse aquatic ecosystems that offer insights into limnological processes at multiple scales. The lakes of this region are highly dependent on snow and ice cover, and at the broadest scale they are sentinel ecosystems that indicate the onset and pace of global change. Global circulation models predict that the most rapid warming has begun at the highest northern latitudes, and that this effect will continue to accelerate. The break-up of several Canadian ice shelves and the complete loss of lake ecosystems contained on and behind this ice provides ongoing evidence of such change. At the hemispheric scale, high arctic lakes are registers of the long range transport of contaminants, including from Eurasia. Our food web analyses in a series of meromictic lakes along the northern Ellesmere Island coastline show that fluorinated contaminants are currently detectable in trace concentrations and may greatly increase as a result of longer periods of ice-out. These saline lakes have unusual thermal maxima that are influenced by biological variables, and sharp gradients in their biogeochemical properties that are the result of long term microbial processes and niche separation. At the molecular scale, our application of quantitative PCR to these systems has helped evaluate the extent of vertical differentiation of community structure and processes, and the distribution of the chemotrophic archaeal gene amoA. These far northern lakes will continue to provide models for biogeochemical analysis, insights into physical-biotic coupling, and key monitoring sites to identify and track the multiple responses to global change.

Biography: Warwick Vincent is originally from New Zealand where he did his undergraduate research thesis at the University of Auckland, on bloom-forming cyanobacteria in waste-water treatment lagoons. He was subsequently rescued from hypertrophy by Professor Charles R. Goldman at the University of California at Davis, where he did his doctoral thesis on phytoplankton ecophysiology in ultra-oligotrophic Lake Tahoe. Warwick has worked on marine and freshwater systems in several other parts of the world including Lake Titicaca, Lake Biwa and the Saint Lawrence Estuary, but most of his research has been on physical-biotic interactions in arctic and antarctic ecosystems. From 1990 onwards he has been Professor of Limnology at Laval University in Québec City. He has received several research and teaching awards, including the Rigler Prize from the Society of Canadian Limnologists. He is a Canada Research Chair, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and a “struggling lifetime student of the French language.”

Friday, 13 June 2008

Ron O'Dor

Ron O'Dor

Dalhousie University / Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education, Halifax NS, Canada / Washington, DC, USA

Censusing Marine Life - Diversity, Distribution and Abundance, Focusing on Dynamic Distributions

Abstract: The Census of Marine Life (COML) is a global ten-year initiative by over 2000 researchers from 80 countries to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of life in the oceans -- past, present, and future. The History of Marine Populations analyses sea life diversity retrospectively as historians and biologists trace life before significant human exploitation. The Ocean Realm Projects demonstrate standardized protocols and novel technologies for observing marine organisms, yielding new biodiversity data ranging from the global intertidal to the abyssal plains, earth's largest habitat. The Future of Marine Populations integrates biogeographic data in models for statistical analyses and forecasting, providing a wide synthesis of data types. All data collected are available online in the Ocean Biogeographic Information System.

In 2003, COML summarized what was known about marine biodiversity globally, characterizing "The Unknown Ocean" in a Baseline Report ( that distinguished biodiversity questions knowable in a First Census in 2010 from unknowable details requiring more advanced technologies. The 14 Ocean Realm Projects working with national and regional committees may collect and characterize 2 million new species with DNA barcodes by 2010.

The Tagging of Pacific Predators and Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking projects that monitor distributions electronically have linked in an Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) to continue beyond 2010 as a component of the IOC's Global Ocean Observing System. OTN merges acoustic, archival and satellite technologies in a global collaboration the media calls, "Blackberries for fish," providing 1000 times more information about marine habitats and living resources.

Biography: O'Dor is currently Senior Scientist for the Census of Marine Life (COML), a global network of over 2000 researchers in more than 80 nations engaged in a ten-year initiative to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of marine life in the oceans -- top to bottom, past, present, and future. After degrees in biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley and medical physiology at the University of British Columbia, a post-doc at Cambridge University and Stazione Zoologica, Naples, turned him to cephalopods and marine biology. Studies on cephalopod behavior and physiology in nature using acoustic telemetry led to involvement in large scale tracking arrays. Within COML, as Associate Dean at Dalhousie University, he is developing the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) to monitor marine animals from 20 gram salmon to 20 tonne whales with arrays to detect globally unique codes. Tags lasting up to 20 years give new time-series perspectives on changes in individual movements in response to climate change and acoustical downloading archival tags will provide records of the oceanography experienced by, and interactions among, tagged species.

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