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Aquatic Conservation Science: Merging Theory and Application

Symposium in honor of Judy Meyer and Gene Helfman
October 3-4, 2008
Odum School of Ecology
University of Georgia
Athens, GA

Photograph of Judy Meyer
Photograph of Gene Helfman

In honor of the exceptional careers of Drs. Judy Meyer and Gene Helfman, the University of Georgia, Odum School of Ecology is hosting a special symposium on the present and future of aquatic conservation science. The one day symposium, featuring individual talks and a panel discussion, includes an impressive list of speakers representing ecosystem and fisheries science, aquatic conservation policy, and water resource management. These experts will address two principle themes: 1) How knowledge about river ecosystem function informs management decisions, and 2) Defining a research agenda for addressing gaps in understanding for improving management of riverine ecosystem function.


  • Stuart Bunn (Griffith University, Australia)
  • Carol Couch (Georgia Environmental Protection Division)
  • Stuart Fisher (University of Arizona)
  • Jim Kitchell (University of Wisconsin)
  • Gene Likens (Institute of Ecosystem Studies)
  • Peter Moyle (University of California - Davis)
  • Robert Naiman (University of Washington)
  • Betsy Otto (American Rivers)
  • Jack Stanford (University of Montana)

Registration is now closed.


Friday, October 3, 2008

6:00-9:00 pm: Poster session, opening reception, registration - Odum School of Ecology lobby

Saturday, October 4, 2008

8:00-8:30 am: Registration and light breakfast - Ecology lobby

8:30-8:40 am: Welcome - Ecology auditorium

8:40-9:50 am: Session I - Ecology auditorium

Moderator for all sessions: Robert Hall

8:40 - 9:15 am: From Hilo to Hubbard Brook to highest achievement: contributions to ecology and policy, Gene Likens, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

9:15 - 9:50 am: Is science without purpose immoral? Stuart Fisher, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University

9:50-10:10 am: Break - Ecology lobby

10:10-11:55 am: Session II - Ecology auditorium

10:10 - 10:45 am: LeRoy's River: using science to mediate environmental protection, Jack Stanford, Flathead Lake Biological Station, University of Montana

10:45 - 11:20 am: Rivers: learning, syntheses and applications from an international perspective, Robert Naiman, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington

11:20 - 11:55 am: Learning from California: conservation in terminal floodplain systems, Peter Moyle, Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology and Center for Watershed Sciences, University of California, Davis

11:55-12:00 noon: Announcements

12:00-1:00 pm: Lunch - Ecology lobby

1:00-2:10 pm: Session III - Ecology auditorium

1:00 - 1:35 pm: The global fisheries crisis in an ecosystem context, James Kitchell, Department of Zoology and Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

1:35 - 2:10 pm: Linking science, monitoring and management to improve the health of freshwater and coastal ecosystems, Stuart Bunn, Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University

2:10-2:40 pm: Break - Ecology lobby

2:40-3:50 pm: Session IV - Ecology auditorium

2:40 - 3:15 pm: Revolutionary reform of environmental regulation to serve the 21 st century, Carol Couch, Georgia Environmental Protection Division

3:15 - 3:50 pm: Making science matter: an advocate's perspective, Betsy Otto, American Rivers

3:50-4:30 pm: Panel discussion - The integration of aquatic science and policy: where do we go from here? Opening comments by Judy Meyer Gene Helfman, Gene Likens, Carol Couch, and Betsy Otto; moderated by Laurie Fowler - Ecology auditorium

5:00 and 5:30 pm: Bus departs from GA Center for The Overlook, Watkinsville, for banquet

5:20 pm: Social Hour, with music by Curley Maple, - The Overlook, Watkinsville

7:00 pm: Banquet - The Overlook, Watkinsville

7:45 pm: Tribute and presentations - The Overlook, Watkinsville

9:30 and 10:00 pm: Bus returns to GA Center


Click here for a list of Athens-area hotels and other lodgings, plus information on restaurants, activities, and maps.

Call for posters
A poster session will be associated with the symposium. Individuals interested in presenting a poster should contact:

Brenda Rashleigh
Research Ecologist
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
960 College Station Road
Athens GA, USA, 30605
706/355-8148 (phone)
706/355-8104 (fax)

For further information, please contact:

Maggie Nettles
River Basin Center

Symposium Basis
Humans benefit from services provided by rivers, such as electrical power, navigation, drinking water, irrigation, sources of food, recreation and spiritual renewal, and waste assimilation. These uses often impinge upon the health of rivers by reducing biodiversity, altering ecosystem function, and increasing pollutant loads. The challenge for managers is to balance these uses while at the same time maintaining the ecological integrity of river biota and ecosystem function. Indeed maintaining the ecological health of rivers improves their extrinsic value to humans; for example, a river with intact ecological processes can remove and transform excess nutrients and contaminants.

The ability to manage rivers depends, in part, on having a good scientific background on which to base management decisions. These decisions may include, for example, designing dams and managing their operations, setting total maximum daily load of pollutants, and restoring river and watershed geomorphology. Scientific knowledge is required to predict how fish respond to dam operations, how nutrient uptake capacity will be decreased, and how invertebrate populations will respond from stream restoration. River ecologists have excelled at measuring the biological condition of rivers using biological indicators such as fish or invertebrate assemblages. Recent work in this area has demonstrated which stressors are most impairing animal assemblages. However, approaches for measuring the degree of impairments are not often linked with the functioning of rivers, such as productivity of aquatic biota and the ability to remove and transform nutrients. Yet maintaining these functions should be a goal of managers. Thus there is a need to: 1. Determine what we know about river ecosystem function in the context of using this knowledge to inform management decisions, and 2. Define a research agenda that best addresses gaps in understanding on how management actions can improve ecosystem function of rivers.


  • University of Georgia River Basin Center
  • University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology
  • University of Georgia Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
  • American Rivers
  • Georgia River Network
  • Upper Oconee Watershed Network
  • Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper

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Center for Community Design and Preservation Center for Community Design & Preservation
Georgia Museum of Natural history Georgia Museum of Natural History

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University of GeorgiaEugene P. Odum School of Ecology

UGA River Basin Center
203 D.W. Brooks Drive
Athens, GA 30602-5017 USA
Phone: (706) 583-0463
Fax: (706) 583-0612

Seth J. Wenger, Co-Director for Science - swenger@uga.edu
Laurie Fowler, Co-Director for Policy - lfowler@uga.edu

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