ASLO 2018 Summer Meeting

Keynote and Plenaries

Sunday Opening Presentation

Sybil Seitzinger, Executive Director, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) and Professor, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Opening Presentation: Borders, boundaries, frontiers: Water knows no political, economic, or environmental constraints

Presentation Description: Welcome to beautiful British Columbia.  Glaciers to rivers, lakes, wetlands to coasts and oceans—British Columbia has it all.  However, virtually all aspects of the physical, biogeochemical and ecosystem dynamics and interactions are, and will increasingly be, affected by climate change, with consequences for ecosystems and people that rely on them.  In many ways, British Columbia is a microcosm of many places in the world.  Never before has there been such an urgency to understand all aspects of aquatic systems. And there will be many surprises, economic, political and environmental.  Developing effective approaches to prepare for those changes needs interdisciplinary engagement by aquatic ecologists, economists, legal scholars, policy analysts, behavioural scientists, cross border negotiators, and many others.  “I used to think I knew what interdisciplinary meant.  I now realize I had only an inkling of what is needed for understanding and developing climate solutions.”

Biographical Information: Dr. Sybil Seitzinger is the Executive Director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS), and Professor in the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria. The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions is a dynamic knowledge network that brings together leading researchers from British Columbia and around the world to study the impacts of climate change and to develop positive approaches to mitigation and adaptation.

Dr. Seitzinger joined PICS from her position as executive director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) based in Stockholm, Sweden. Prior to that, she was director of the Rutgers/NOAA Cooperative Marine Education and Research Program and visiting professor at Rutgers University in the US.

Dr. Seitzinger’s work at the IGBP involved facilitating and integrating the work of scientists and researchers across Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe on global environmental change. As a pioneering scientist, her work at Rutgers centred on land-atmosphere-ocean biogeochemistry, with a focus on changes in the global nitrogen cycle and how humans are affecting it.  Her research spans a range of spatial scales from molecular level organic chemical characterization to models at global scales.

Dr. Seitzinger holds a PhD in biological oceanography from the University of Rhode Island, is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been awarded an honorary PhD from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. She served as president of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography from 2006-2010. She is highly cited, with more than 130 peer-reviewed publications to her credit.

Friday Conference Closing Presentation

Evelyn Gaiser, Executive Director, School of Environment, Arts and Society; Professor, Department of Biological Sciences and Southeast Environmental Research Center; and Lead Principle Investigator, Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research Program, Florida International University

Closing Presentation: Surface Tension: Sustaining our Future through the Connecting Properties of Water

Presentation Description: From molecular to planetary scales, water exposes its intrinsic properties through its capacity to connect. At the molecular scale, connections formed by hydrogen bonds create surface tension. At the planetary scale, freshwater overconsumption connects societies as they cross sustainable boundaries – creating surface tension of global proportions. This talk will explore how the connecting power of water may be harnessed to resolve conflicts by catalyzing societal change. Examples will be provided from South Florida, where decades of freshwater mis-management is interacting with accelerating sea level rise to threaten more assets than any other coastal city in the world. Delays in restoration have magnified saltwater intrusion into the Everglades, altering vertical and lateral hydrologic connections and leading to abrupt changes in the distinctive features and functions of this International Biosphere Preserve. These losses and their reinforcing feedbacks threaten an aquifer that supports 9 million people with freshwater, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, recreational fisheries, and other ecosystem properties and services, diminishing the region’s economic vitality. By coupling long-term research findings with mechanistic experiments and models, scientists from academia, agencies, and municipalities are uniting around solutions for reversing or at least decelerating these changes. Independent evaluators, including scientists serving the National Academy of Sciences, are being regarded as critical ‘restoration brokers’ for their insightful contributions to science-backed conflict resolution. After perilous delays, freshwater restoration is now underway with improved public recognition and support stemming from novel approaches to civic engagement. The restoration process also exhibits a more nimble and adaptive approach by freshwater managers – an attribute that has never been more important as multiple drivers interact to change ecosystems in unpredictable ways. As communities unite around Everglades restoration, scientists are engaging in international collaborations to transfer knowledge to secure a better fate for other expansive freshwater wetlands, and their dependent communities. By enhancing social cohesion, the properties of water may resolve tensions stimulated by resource limitation by generating creative solutions for sustainable sharing. 

Biographical Information: Dr. Evelyn Gaiser is Executive Director of the School of Environment, Arts and Society and Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Southeast Environmental Research Center at FIU.  She is an aquatic ecologist whose research is focused on understanding how algae can be used as “sentinels” of the effects of long-term changes in climate and land-use in aquatic ecosystems. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters that detail the ways that algae reflects changes in water quality and availability, and that have set the stage for regulatory criteria protecting the nation’s waters. While her work focuses on aquatic systems of South Florida, she and her students also conduct international studies to expand findings contextually. She received her B.S. from Kent State University, M.S. from Iowa State University and Ph.D. at University of Georgia.  Research in Dr. Gaiser’s lab has informed the progress of Everglades Restoration, and is integrated into the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program (FCE LTER,, which Dr. Gaiser has led since 2007. The FCE LTER program is a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded long-term Everglades research platform operated out of FIU, and is one of only 25 sites in the U.S. LTER Network. The FCE LTER program includes 75 senior scientists and 64 students from multiple departments and schools at FIU, as well as 29 partnering institutions including academic and agency partners. Research focuses on the central idea that in coastal wetlands, climate change and resource management decisions interact to influence freshwater availability, ecosystem dynamics, and the value and utilization of ecosystem services by people. Dr. Gaiser has been committed to facilitating the advancement of science through collaboration and public-private partnerships, and serves on the science council of the LTER Network and steering committee of the Global Lake Ecological Research Network (GLEON).  As Executive Director of FIU’s School of Environment, Arts and Society (SEAS), Dr. Gaiser works to unite faculty across the natural and social sciences and humanities in creative work and inspirational teaching to foster sustainability of the planet. The mission of SEAS is to find solutions to address environmental challenges by training students to be innovative leaders of the 21st Century. SEAS faculty and students engage with the public through key partnerships that engage communities in actions of change through science and the arts.  Dr. Gaiser is a trained musician and has created creative works to express science through music ( 

Plenary Session presentations

Plenary speakers confirmed to date who will be speaking throughout the week include the following:

MONDay Plenary

Phil Levin, Professor of Practice, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, and Lead Scientist, The Nature Conservancy, Seattle, Washington, USA

Plenary Presentation: Conservation in the Face of Ocean Tipping Points

Presentation  Description: Forage fish are at the heart of many marine food webs. Eaten by many species, including people, they are economically, ecologically, and culturally important. Their numbers are also notoriously variable. In the Northeast Pacific,  herring have been central to the social, cultural, and economic relations of coastal indigenous communities for many thousands of years7, and many communities seek to continue their traditional fisheries for herring and herring roe on kelp. Industrial seine and gillnet fishing of adult fish for their roe has also contributed to the economy and livelihoods of many communities across the Northwest Coast. With this socio-cultural centrality comes complexity for management. This talk will explore how marine species, and the human communities that depend upon them respond to a suite of pressures, and how we can best predict tipping points in the socio-ecological system.  I highlight how access, power relationships and perspectives on sustainability create conflict, but also reveal a way forward.

Biographical InformationPhillip Levin is the lead scientist of The Nature Conservancy, Washington and a professor-of-practice in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington. Dr. Levin is a conservation scientist who is interested in bridging the gaps between theory and practice in conservation, and developing modeling and statistical approaches to inform conservation and management of ecosystems. The main focus of his current work is developing interdisciplinary tools to inform conservation of marine, aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and the communities that depend on them. Prior to joining the Nature Conservancy and University of Washington, he was the Director of Conservation Biology and a Senior Scientist at NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, WA, USA. Levin served as the scientific lead of NOAA’s Integrated Ecosystem Assessment efforts in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem and Puget Sound. In the course of this work, he has led the development of new analytical tools for characterizing ecosystem health and forecasting the cumulative effects of coastal zone management and climate change on ecosystems. Dr. Levin received the Department of Commerce Silver Award and NOAA’s Bronze Medal for his work on marine ecosystems, and the Seattle Aquarium’s Conservation Research Award for his work in Puget Sound. He has published over 150 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters and technical reports, and edited the recently published book, “Conservation of the Anthropocene Ocean: interdisciplinary approaches for nature and people”.  His work has been featured in such news outlets as NPR, PBS, the BBC, MSBNC, The Economist, among others. Levin recently served as President of the Western Society of Naturalists, and has served on numerous editorial boards and scientific advisory panels. Levin received his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of New Hampshire in 1993 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina.

TUESday Plenary

Amina I. Pollard, Ecologist, Office of Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, USA

Plenary Presentation: The promise and potential of national-scale limnology using the U.S. National Lakes Assessment

Presentation Description: Scientific investigations conducted at different spatial and temporal scales can be complementary. To maximize this potential, we in the scientific community collectively have to work to find connections among approaches, data, and conclusions resulting from studies conducted at different scales. The effort to identify connections includes noting the strengths of different projects and recognizing how this information can be leveraged to develop a more complete understanding. In this presentation Dr. Pollard will discuss three examples that demonstrate how broad, population-scale information can be leveraged to better understand relative condition and change in lakes. She will provide an overview of the U.S. National Lakes Assessment (NLA) project. The NLA is a collaborative, coordinated partnership project among States, Tribes, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designed to provide national and regional-scale statistics describing select biological, chemical, physical, human use, and watershed characteristics in lakes. Multiple researchers from state and federal agencies as well as universities have used NLA data from just a few sites to the full national set to test hypotheses about lake ecology and management, but there are also opportunities to consider the perspective that population-level information can bring to aquatic sciences. The first example leverages national-scale data to examine temporal change in nutrient concentration. In conjunction with comparable national streams data, information from NLA has been used to show population-level changes in total phosphorus concentration across the U.S. A second example highlights how population information from different spatial scales can be leveraged to better understand relative condition of lake shoreline habitat. Finally, by connecting an individual lake to the NLA inferences, she will highlight an approach for using population information to provide context for local data. These examples demonstrate how population-scale lake data generated by NLA can be leveraged to inform hypothesis generation, strengthen the case for management activity, and understand phenomenon occurring at local scales in the context of large-scale patterns.

Biographical Information: Amina Pollard is an ecologist working in the Office of Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She is a graduate from Lawrence University (B.A., 1995), Wright State University (M.S., 1997), and the University of Wisconsin Madison (Ph.D., 2002). Dr. Pollard leads the U.S. National Lakes Assessment. At the broadest level this survey characterizes the biological, chemical, physical and recreational status of lakes to determine whether their condition is changing over time. She collaborates with scientists and resource managers across the U.S. to implement this survey and to communicate results to diverse audiences. Dr. Pollard’s research explores local and regional environmental controls on the biological assemblages in lakes, streams, and wetlands. The third component of Dr. Pollard’s career involves working at the interface of science and policy locally, nationally, and internationally (e.g., China, Uruguay). 

wednesday Plenary

Jonathan W. Moore, Liber Ero Chair of Coastal Science and Management, and Associate Professor,  Simon Fraser University Burnaby, BC, Canada

Presentation: Connections and Resilience in Salmon Watersheds

Presentation Description: One pressing challenge that we face is to understand and conserve Earth’s natural ability to cope with change. In this context, Dr. Moore will discuss recent findings from my collaborative research program on the resilience of large salmon watersheds of western Canada. Rivers and their migratory fishes connect headwaters with the ocean. He presents emerging evidence that this river connectivity means that these systems act as natural portfolios that stabilize important processes, from hydrology to fisheries catches. However, these connections also mean that environmental risks can spread up and down river systems. At the controversial nexus of indigenous rights, industrial development, and environmental risk assessment, he will discuss our collaborative research on the estuary of one of the worlds’ great salmon watersheds faced with fossil fuel development. His research revealed the need to align the scale of environmental decision making with the true spatial scale of potential environmental risk. These activities in partnership with First Nations fisheries programs have strengthened his belief in the need and opportunity for the scientific process to better integrate with diverse cultures. Most broadly, there is a need to understand processes of resilience, quantify their limits, and translate this emerging scientific understanding into conservation and management action.

Biographical Information:  Jonathan Moore is the Liber-Ero Chair of Coastal Science and Management at Simon Fraser University and is an associate professor. Dr. Moore received his PhD from the University of Washington and his BSc from Carleton College. Prior to Simon Fraser University, he was a professor at University of California and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He was recently recognized as a leading emerging scientist in the field of fisheries sciences by the Canadian Fisheries Society (J. C. Stevenson Award) and was a Wilburforce Fellow for conservation science. Dr. Moore's research program focuses on the dynamics of aquatic ecosystems to inform sustainable management with expertise on salmon and their watersheds. His research program uses a combination of intensive field work in partnership with diverse collaborators, syntheses of large data sets, and modeling. His work also aims to bring scientific clarity to controversial environmental decision-making.

Thursday Plenary 

Igor Klein and Claudia Kuenzer, Department of Land Surface, Earth Observation Center (EOC), German Aerospace Center, DLR, Koeln, Germany

Plenary Presentation: The Potential of Earth Observation for the Analysis of River Deltas and the Coastal Zone

Presentation Description: The face of our planet is changing at unprecedented speed. Total population grew by 26% between 1992 and 2010, the number of megacities with over 10 million inhabitants more than doubled between 1990 and 2010, and the the latest, uncontestable climate trends, sea level rise, and sporadic endogenous and exogenous natural hazards aggravate environmental change, as does the constant demand to cope with and adapt to ever changing livelihoods. The major settled river delta areas of our planet are highly dynamic social-ecological systems, which are especially exposed to the impacts of socio-economic development, urbanization, changes in climate, and natural hazards. Although river deltas only contribute 5% to the overall land surface, nearly six hundred million people live in these environments, which combine a variety of appealing locational advantages such as flat topography, fertile alluvial soils, access to sea and freshwater resources, transport hub functions, a rich biodiversity of marine, brackish and inland ecosystems, as well as – often – abundant underground resources of hydrocarbons (oil, gas), and salts At the same time, these highly dynamic, valuable environments are exposed to a variety of threats. Urban areas, industry, infrastructure, agriculture, and aquaculture all extend into formerly untouched land and disturb and/or replace valuable ecosystems such as wetlands, coastal forests, and marshes. Increasing water, soil, and air pollution accompany this process. Sediment compaction through heavy structures and underground resource extraction adds to a natural subsidence component. The same applies for many coastal areas globally.  At present an unrivalled amount of remotely sensed earth observation data is globally available in satellite data archives. Imagery from coarse-, medium-, high-, and highest-resolution optical, multispectral, radar, and thermal infrared sensors is waiting to be exploited to reveal its full potential. The USA and Europe have set the pace in sharing earth observation resources. Along with this current trend of opening up numerous satellite data archives worldwide go increasing capabilities to handle and explore big data. Compared to former uni- or bi-temporal mapping endeavours, the current benchmark is the exploitation of remote sensing time series to reveal land surface dynamics at differing spatial-, and temporally-dense scales. The goal of this contribution / talk is to demonstrate this profound potential for large river deltas and coastal areas globally.

Biographical Information for Claudia Kuenzer: Claudia Kuenzer received her PhD in remote sensing from Vienna University of Technology in 2005. She went to the University of Wuerzburg in 2016, and she is currently head of the Department of Land Surface at the Earth Observation Center (EOC) of the German Aerospace Center, DLR. This department with currently 55 scientists, studies and quantifies global environmental change, and, in this context, addresses societal relevant questions. Focus is on the development of information products useful for planning and decision-making purposes based on innovative data analyses methods. A wide range of geoscience topics, employing all types of earth observation sensors (multispectral, hyperspectral, SAR) at various spatial scales (global, regional, national, local) is addressed. Until the end of 2015, Claudia had been head of the group Land Surface Dynamics at DFD of DLR. She has been scientific coordinator of several international, trans-disciplinary geoscience projects mainly focussing on Integrated Water Resources Management, as well as coast related topics. She frequently lectures and has lectured for the Universities of Wuerzburg, Germany, Vienna University of Technology, Austria, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, CAS, the Vietnamese Academy of Sciences, VAST, and the European Space Agency, ESA. Claudia also is an appointed Scientific Steering Committee member of Future Earth Coasts under Future Earth, a member of the bureau of the International Society for Digital Earth, ISDE, and member of several journal editorial boards. She has authored and co-authored over 100 SCI journal papers, more than 35 book chapters, over 120 conference contributions, and published three books. Next to applied remote sensing especially in the context of earth observation for the coastal zone, as well land use management and integrated water resources management, her current main research interest is on time series analyses of temporally dense time series of high resolution, as well as on the joint analyses of natural and social sciences data.