Key Dates

Late Registration
Fees Imposed

Beginning 1 April 2012

Program and Schedules Available
April 2012

20-24 May 2012

Special Sessions

S01.Bioassessment of river health: where are we now and where to in the future?

Organizers: Susan Nichols (, Trefor Reynoldson and Bob Bailey

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This session is dedicated to the late Professor Richard Norris. The session will highlight where the early work that Richard was devoted to developing has brought us, and where this work is heading for the future of biological assessment of river health. Over recent years large scale monitoring programmes for stream assessment have been developed for a range of countries, including Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, the European Union and the United States.  In the majority of cases these have used predictive modeling approaches and the taxonomic composition of the benthic macroinvertebrate community as indicators of stream condition. What have we learned and how can we improve bioassessment given progress in science relevant to bioassessment and the reference condition approach in general? Have the needs of stakeholders or users of the bioassessment techniques changed and are our current methods meeting current and foreseeable future needs to better manage and sustain healthy freshwater ecosystems? This session will 1) identify new developments in the science and research relevant to bioassessment and/or the reference condition approach, 2) explore new predictive modelling approaches and the incorporation of other biological indicators and attributes, 3) identify user issues and needs (what works and what does not) and relating user needs to science and research, and 4) explore where we go from here.

S02. Lake benthic algae communities:  bioassessment, traits and adaptive ecology

Organizers: Marco Cantonati ( and Rex L. Lowe

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Although periphyton studies lag behind phytoplankton studies, benthic algae investigations in streams outnumber those in lakes. Moreover, the majority of lake benthic algae studies focus on diatoms. However, benthic algae are important primary producers in many types of lakes, and the littoral zone can contribute substantially to overall lake production not only in shallow lakes but even in large and deep lakes. Characteristics of habitats and assemblages vary strongly with depth. The shallow periphyton in lakes is often subjected to a high-energy environment, and species must develop survival strategies to cope with high radiation and water-level fluctuations (e.g., desiccation, UV exposure). This situation selects widely distributed rheophilic species. However, this is also the part of the depth gradient that is readily accessible for samplings carried out for environmental monitoring and surveillance. In densely populated areas many interests converge (and often conflict) on the littoral zones of lakes, and these are often affected by many impacts. Benthic algae can both signal early effects of eutrophication more readily than phytoplankton, and effectively disclose localized alterations of the shores’ environmental quality. Contrastingly, the deeper infra-littoral zone is a much more stable environment, possibly hosting a distinct subset of lentic periphyton. Here, however, species have to face light reduction becoming extreme with

S03. The effects of disturbance and stressors on cross-ecosystem linkages

Organizers: Travis Schmidt (, David Walter, Johanna Kraus, and Bob Zuellig

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Although subsidies and disturbance are two focal points of ecological research, the propagation of disturbance from one ecosystem to another hasn't received as much attention. Does disturbance (e.g., environmental stressors such as fire, pollution, land use change, etc.) effect material fluxes between systems and can stressors in one system propagate to another system via this mechanism of altered subsidies? Better understanding of how disturbance affects aquatic-terrestrial linkages is important to improve the management and conservation of riparian zones and aquatic ecosystems. We invite speakers to present on the effects or disturbance and stressors on cross-ecosystem linkages. Our goal is to bring together leaders in cross-ecosystem interactions to identify common themes found in research about the effects of contaminants, habitat alteration, flooding, fire, land use, species invasion, and other disturbances on these processes. We also hope to identify critical gaps in the current body of science that can focus future research.

S04. Genetic tools in the study of biodiversity, ecology, and evolution of freshwater organisms

Organizers: Deb Finn (, Jane Hughes, and Michael Monaghan

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The genetic tools available for ecological and evolutionary research are in a constant state of development and freshwater scientists integrate these approaches into broad research programs on a regular basis.  This session will highlight a diversity of molecular tools currently used by freshwater ecologists to answer questions from intrapopulation to continental scales and will emphasize these techniques as integral components of the freshwater ecologist’s toolkit for addressing a variety of pressing objectives. These include assessments of biodiversity in communities and populations, hybridization, local adaptation, environmental change, parentage and kinship, biological connectivity across landscapes, the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function, range expansion with climate change, invasive species biology, host/parasite interactions, and population demographic stability. This session continues a NABS/SFS tradition of triennial special sessions on the theme of molecular/evolutionary approaches in freshwater ecology.

S05. Predicting sensitivities to climate change from species traits

Organizers: Wilco C.E.P. Verberk (, N.L. Poff, and David B. Buchwalter

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Global climate change effects are projected to substantially affect the species composition of communities and the structure and functioning of ecosystems. Although shifts in distribution have been observed for a range of organisms, there are few examples of direct causal links between global change and changes in the biogeographical distributions of species. Higher temperatures and streamflow alterations may impact species assemblages directly or change biological interactions, which may condition species sensitivity. Teasing apart the different potential causal processes requires an interdisciplinary approach. The aim of the session is to bring together experts from a range of fields including theoretical ecology, field ecology, ecophysiology and experimental biology, to provide an overview of the current status of knowledge and to achieve an integrating synthesis.

S06. Integrating remote, real-time monitoring systems with basic and applied freshwater science

Organizers: Dave Arscott ( and Anthony Aufdenkampe

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Technological advances in environmental sensors, network infrastructure, and open source hardware and software have led to easier access and an expanding role for utilizing remote monitoring systems in basic and applied freshwater research. These advances have positioned freshwater scientists, watershed managers, citizen scientists, and volunteer monitors with unprecedented access to tools for measuring and monitoring environmental processes and change. Yet the full potential for utilizing these tools has not ben realized. These rapidly evolving and expanding tools may provide solutions for improving freshwater stewardship, but also offer many challenges for users from all disciplines. This session requests contributions that will highlight how technological advances in remote and/or real-time monitoring systems have been utilized in freshwater science to address fundamental research questions and/or provide watershed managers and monitors with data needed to document and assess environmental change. We invite contributions that have implemented in-situ monitoring and networking solutions to test hypotheses, provide legally defensible data, or to better inform environmental management decisions.  We especially encourage contributions that highlight data interpretation and analysis that has led to novel perspective, met management challenges, or link near realtime models with environmental sensor networks.

S07. Expanding stakeholders of urban streams by promoting the natural flow regime

Organizers: Matthew S. Wooten ( and Robert J. Hawley

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Effective watershed management is holistic in nature, and needs to be addressed with an interdisciplinary approach, including biological, hydrologic, chemical and physical considerations.  But beyond these more traditional disciplines of freshwater science, watershed management should consider broader aspects, such as economic and social impacts to local communities and stakeholders.  Reluctance to consider these more “social” aspects of watershed management can impede projects and policies designed with good scientific merit.  But moreover, our experience shows that more sustainable watershed management transfers benefits to, and is more cost effective for local stakeholders than the status quo.  For example, managing stormwater to a more natural flow regime is not only beneficial for freshwater ecosystems—it is also more sustainable for urban infrastructure (e.g. unstable urban streams destroy habitat andadjacent sewers/roads).  This logic is being used by utility districts across the U.S. by installing green infrastructure to comply with components of the Clean Water Act, such as reducing sewer system overflows. And beyond being more cost effective, green infrastructure tends to have a greater potential in restoring freshwater system functionality than conventional gray controls, such as increasing sewer-system capacity.  This special session will focus on how managing urban watersheds toward a more natural flow regime is being pursued for this, and a variety of reasons, including economic, social, and freshwater ecosystem benefits.  We also invite speakers to present on the state of the science on how freshwater communities are impacted by urbanization and what is needed for their recovery, as well as case studies in managing urbanization to promote the natural flow and disturbance regime.

S08. Developing Nutrient Criteria to Protect Freshwater Systems: Methods and Applications

Organizers: Michael Paul ( and Lester Yuan

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States and tribes in the US are under federal requirement to move forward on the development of scientifically defensible nutrient criteria to be incorporated into water quality standards.  These criteria are especially targeting the protection of aquatic life uses.  There is a need for continued scientific development related to this regulatory requirement and this special session highlights the range of science contributing to progress towards achieving that goal and the major gaps in understanding that are hindering progress.  Invited and contributed talks will include not only science related to impacts associated with traditional autotrophic causal pathways, but will also highlight those associated with nutrient enrichment via heterotrophic pathways.

An informational session is also being prepared that will provide a primer for SFS members on Clean Water Act regulations related to water quality criteria, as well as review the history of nutrient criteria development in the US.  It will be held before the special session and will provide members with the regulatory and policy context within which the scientific information highlighted in the special session is being applied.  We expect this informational session to be valuable both to members interested in the special session topic as well as those interested in learning more about policies related to water quality criteria in the US.

S09. NEON: existing research and opportunities for collaboration

Organizers: Keli Goodman ( and Stephanie Parker

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This session highlights current research and future opportunities for research at NEON Aquatic Sites.  The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is a NSF-funded Observatory with a mission to enable understanding and forecasting of the impacts of climate change, land-use change and invasive species on continental-scale ecology.  NEON provides infrastructure and standardized methodologies to support research and education in these areas.  NEON data will be rigorously collected, calibrated, quality-checked and made available to scientists, educators, students, decision makers, and the public.  In additional to terrestrial and atmospheric measurements distributed over 20 ecoclimatic domains, the Observatory will support 36 Aquatic Sites.  At each Aquatic site, NEON will measure a suite of biogeochemical, hydrological, geomorphological, and biological parameters.  Biological measures are targeted at tracking change in diversity of aquatic communities over time and include collections of microbes, algae, macrophytes, invertebrates, and fish. Not only will ecologists be able to use the data generated by NEON, but will also have the opportunity to write grants augmenting NEON measurements and experiments.  We welcome presentations that discuss previous work and future goals at stream and/or lake sites that will co-locate with NEON Aquatic Sites.  The session will also introduce NSF’s perspective on utilizing the Observatory.  This session will ultimately lead to discussion of how the community can utilize NEON data and infrastructure to begin and expand future research projects.

S10. Management opportunities for mitigating environmental stresses in a changing climate

Organizers: David Raff ( and Jeff Arnold

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This session will focus on research and applied science projects that are identifying opportunities to mitigate freshwater environmental stresses in a changing climate.  The significant stresses that are affecting freshwater ecosystems are known to be exacerbated by anthropogenic climate change and there have been significant resources devoted to identifying adaptation and mitigation strategies in light of this fact.  There are, currently, significant opportunities to inform water resource management communities of the opportunities to mitigate stresses on freshwater aquatic ecosystems.  At the Federal level the United States Army Corps of Engineers is working pursuing wide national and international collaboration to develop practical, nationally consistent and regionally tailored, legally justifiable and cost-effective adaptation measures, both structural and nonstructural, that will reduce vulnerabilities and improve resilience to climate change and other stressors.  Further, the Department of the Interior has helped establish a network of Landscape Conservation Cooperatives and Climate Science Centers that span the United States to develop the applied science necessary to manage ecosystems in the changing climate.  The Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Geologic Survey, and others are devoting significant resources to better manage Federal trust responsibilities for the future.  Federal, State, Local, and tribal resources continue to fund work at academic institutions to develop the research fundamentally necessary to identify sound resource management strategies.  The proposed session will be an opportunity to share the ongoing work at the academic and federal levels that are identifying new and novel ways of managing water resources to mitigate the stresses on freshwater resources.

S11. Assessments to identify biological patterns and conserve freshwater biodiversity

Organizers: Marcos Callisto ( and Bob Hughes

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This session will focus on ecological assessments designed to compare and contrast patterns in benthic macroinvertebrate and fish assemblages of streams, rivers and reservoirs.  We will especially discuss multidisciplinary initiatives, communicating science to citizens and regional stakeholder engagement.  Our goal is to improve international partnership between both North-South American & European countries via collaborations among students and researchers from different institutions and disciplines.  Ultimately this will improve scientific knowledge to build capacity to meet the increasing challenges of economic development and sustain healthy freshwater biodiversity.

S12. Modelling approaches in riverine ecosystem science and management

Organizers: Sonja Jähnig (, Sami Domisch, and Christian K. Feld

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Modelling may help understanding ecosystem functions, their interaction as well as feedback mechanisms. It is increasingly used in investigating or managing conservation, climate change or land use management issues. This session aims to survey the use of contemporary modelling approaches in freshwater science to give a coherent overview on the methods used. We would like to bring together experts from this field, e.g. modelling the impact of climate change on freshwater biota, subsequent effects on river assessment and monitoring systems, modelling river restoration effects or conservation planning. Contributions may cover habitat modelling, dispersal and species distribution modelling and other approaches used in the context of spatial and temporal riverine ecosystem management.

S13. Completing the life cycle – dispersal, fitness and behaviour of adult aquatic insects

Organizers: Jill Lancaster ( and Robert Smith

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The vast majority of research on the ecology of aquatic insects has, arguably, focused on the aquatic larval stage. Consequently, we know relatively little about how processes acting on the adult life stage can influence distribution patterns, population structure and community composition – even though these phenomena are no less significant than processes acting on the larval stage. For example, (i) evidence suggests that most ecologically significant dispersal is by adults, yet we have a poor understanding of how far and in what direction individual adults travel, or what constitutes a barrier to dispersal.  Hence, the capacity of different species to expand their range, colonize restored or disturbed environments, or disperse across patchy landscapes or along dendritic networks is largely unknown.  (ii) After emergence, adult insects must locate mates, reproduce and females must oviposit or otherwise ensure that offspring enter aquatic environments. Environmental constraints on the provision of emergence, mating and oviposition sites, and their relative spatial arrangement, can have profound impacts on the distribution and local densities of aquatic larvae, but these are poorly described phenomena.  (iii) Adult fitness and survival (e.g. avoiding predation) until reproduction is complete will determine subsequent population size yet a plethora of biotic and environmental factors can influence adult fitness, most of which are unexplored.

S14. Recent advances in crayfish biology, ecology, and conservation

Organizers: Brian Helms (

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Crayfish have been shown to play integral roles in many freshwater ecosystems, whether in terms of their biodiversity, abundance, or function.  Many studies have demonstrated crayfish influence on algal and invertebrate assemblages, species displacement, organic matter processing, and sedimentation, resulting in the classification of many species as ecosystem engineers and/or keystone species.  Although considerable work in recent years has been conducted investigating the roles and impacts of introduced crayfish, there also has been an increased focus on understanding the distributions, life histories, ecological roles, and conservation issues of the many endemic and/or understudied species, as well as progress in using crayfishes as model organisms.  This session will serve to highlight many of these recent advances by bringing together scientists at various career stages and perspectives to share research, interact, and discuss a comprehensive plan to guide future research and conservation endeavors.  The special session will include invited papers addressing examples of key advances in crayfish biology as well as contributed papers.

S15. Climate change and the phenology of aquatic species

Organizers: Jerry Schoen (

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This session will focus on potential climate change impacts on stream systems, with a particular emphasis on phenology.  We offer a series of short presentations, with follow up discussions, on what is known and not known about these questions: the degree to which phenological calendars may be shifting for various species or assemblages, asynchrony which may be occurring, and possible impacts of any such shifts with respect to the viability of individual species or to entire natural communities found in riparian areas.   We focus primarily on aquatic invertebrates, fish and riparian plants, but birds and other animals may also be considered.  Speakers may present their own research or a summary of research to date in these topical areas. One objective of the session is to identify research needs, and to begin consideration of how those might be met.  A complementary objective is to identify communication strategies that advance public awareness and understanding of these issues.

A potential companion follow-up discussion session (approximately 1 hour) is planned to consider development of a citizen science program to monitor aquatic invertebrate phenology of riparian areas.  Discussion will address issues such as what partnerships can be established to organize such an effort, how might SFS or its members participate, and what benefits would SFS receive from participation?  In this follow-up session, the River’s Calendar project will be proposed as a model for such a citizen science network. It will be briefly described as a means of providing specific ideas and concepts to stimulate discussion.

S16. Application of molecular taxonomy to bioassessment: Bugs to barcodes – what does it all mean?

Organizers: Eric D. Stein ( Raphael Mazor, Erik Pilgrim, and Peter Miller

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Bioassessment is a cornerstone of environmental monitoring and is a basis of biosurveillance and compliance monitoring throughout the world.   A challenge faced by bioassessment programs is the time, expense, and difficulty associated with producing comprehensive and accurate taxonomic identification of sample specimens.   These challenges are exacerbated for rare and cryptic species and for emerging bioindicators such as marine meiofauna and soft-bodied stream algae, where the taxonomy may be poorly known.   Molecular genetic methods, such as DNA barcoding and next-generation sequencing can help address some of these issues by providing information on taxonomic composition and species richness in less time and often with higher resolution than is possible with traditional morphological methods.   However, molecular methods for bioassessment are developing rapidly and many technical challenges need to be resolved before it can be routinely incorporated into monitoring and assessment programs.  Among these are the development of standardized sample processing and data analysis approaches that can influence data quality and affect conclusions about species composition.   This special session will summarize the status of the science on molecular taxonomy, provide examples of how molecular approaches are being used in concert with morphological taxonomy to support routine bioassessment, and discuss future directions in this growing field of research.  Particular attention will be paid to the development of standard methods from sample collection through data analysis and highlighting decision points that researchers and program managers should understand when implementing or interpreting molecular-based species data.

S17. Managing Stream Biogeochemistry in Human Dominated Landscapes

Organizers: Jake Beaulieu (, Sujay Kaushall, and Michael Pennino

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Streams in human dominated landscapes are frequently channelized, connected to artificial drainage networks, and isolated from the riparian zone.  These modifications, among others, reduce the capacity of stream networks to retain nutrients and contaminants, further exacerbating local and downstream water quality problems.  The development of management practices that simultaneously meet the drainage needs of a growing human population and sustain efficient biogeochemical processing in streams is critical to meeting the world’s water quality challenges.  We invite contributions that identify factors controlling stream biogeochemistry in developed basins across a range of spatial and temporal scales.  We particularly desire studies that document the effects of best management practices, implemented on any scale (e.g., in-stream habitat modification, riparian zone restoration, basin scale BMP implementation), on stream biogeochemistry.  Anthropogenic land-use patterns have modified streams throughout the world and we welcome contributions from any geographic region.

S18. Grassland stream condition: status, trends and emerging assessment approaches

Organizer: Adam Yates (

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Grasslands are among the most disturbed ecosystems globally, largely as a result of conversion to agricultural land uses.  Streams in grassland ecosystems are subject to significant disturbance due to increased nutrient and sediment loads, channel alteration, as well as losses of biodiversity and ecological function.  Not well represented in riverine research in the past, grassland streams have received increasing attention over the past decades resulting in significant increases in knowledge regarding the status and trends of the condition of these ecosystems.  This special session aims to report on the current status of grassland ecosystems worldwide and to describe contemporary and emerging assessment approaches that are being used to generate critical information in support of sustainable management of these important ecosystems. Contributed papers on the topic are welcome.

S19. Into the benthos: New insights into how sediment processes affect aquatic ecosystems

Organizers: Lauren Kinsman-Costello and David Costello (

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Freshwater scientists have long understood the importance of the benthos to ecological processes.  Whether predominantly organic or inorganic, lotic or lentic, sediments play critical roles in providing highly valued ecosystem services including carbon sequestration, nutrient storage and/or removal, and support of biological diversity.  Sediment characteristics and conditions such as pH, redox, and nutrient pools typically vary on finer spatial but coarser temporal scales than well-mixed water columns above them, making measurements in these two ecosystem components difficult to align.  Emerging tools like microelectrodes, high-throughput molecular sequencing, and stable isotopes provide new insights into sediment processes.  Our goal in this session is to highlight research aimed at better elucidating the roles of sediments in whole-ecosystem processes.  Understanding the role of sediments is critical to many management challenges including predicting and mitigating ecosystem response to chemical contaminants, nutrient pollution, and physical disturbance.  We welcome submissions related to sediment processes in all types of aquatic ecosystems and any geographic region, and especially encourage those addressing management needs.

S20. Exploring the effects of gas extraction from shale on freshwater ecosystems

Organizers: Kelly O. Maloney ( and Laura Craig

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Recent technological advances, together with the increasing demands for alternative energy supplies, have resulted in a dramatic increase in the extraction of natural gas from shale plays.  Although estimated to supply a large amount of natural gas, there is a lack of clarity on the potential environmental effects of shale gas extraction, especially on freshwater resources.   Shale gas extraction involves several steps including site identification and preparation, vertical and horizontal well drilling, hydrofracturing, and production.  Each of these steps has potential to impact freshwaters.  The hydrofracturing process is of particular concern as it uses large quantities of water and the resultant waste fluids are potentially hazardous to freshwaters (e.g., TDS upwards of 200,000 have been reported).  The high degree of uncertainty on the effects of drilling operations on water quantity (through withdrawals) and water quality, the multitude of stakeholders involved in resource management (e.g., state agencies, townships, and local citizens), and the publicity of natural gas extraction highlights the need for a synthesis effort.   To this end, this special session is aimed at bringing together stakeholders and researchers from a variety of fields and agencies to shed light on the potential effects of shale gas extraction on freshwater resources.  Participants will include experts from different shale plays around the world, but will place special emphasis on the Marcellus Shale play in Northeastern U.S.

S21. Research advances and conservation challenges in temporary river systems

Organizers: Thibault Datry (, Michael Bogan, Ken Fritz, and Davr Arscott

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In the last decade, increased legal attention in the United States, limited applicability of parts of the Water Framework Directive in parts of Europe, and the development/application of environmental flows prompted a surge in the study of temporary rivers. In particular, there was a shift in focus in temporary river ecology from descriptive comparisons between perennial and temporary systems to examination of mechanisms that influence ecosystem structure and function at reach and river network scales. While there is still much debate about the relative levels of species richness, diversity, and abundances between assemblages of temporary and perennial streams, most researchers agree that temporary streams are important sources of biodiversity and that some may harbor unique life histories, genotypes, or species assemblages. Moreover, quantitative relationships between flow intermittence and ecosystem structure/function are being increasingly reported from different biomes and climates. The generality and transferability of these relationships need to be addressed yet, as they could offer powerful tools to water managers. In some parts of the world, however, the legal status of temporary streams is poorly defined. While permanent flowing streams often have several forms of legal protection, recent court cases in the United States have questioned the federal protection of temporary streams and have prompted subsequent rule changes. Similarly, temporary rivers are poorly recognized in the European Water Framework Directive. In this special session, we propose to showcase the latest research advances in temporary river ecology, with emphases on quantitative approaches at reach and river network scales, and to highlight recent legal battles and conservation challenges concerning temporary streams.

S22. The role of non-profit conservation partnerships in freshwater science and management

Organizers: Donna Kashian and Michael B. Griffith (

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Increasingly, non-profit or intergovernmental groups are becoming involved in the conservation and management of freshwater resources usually at the local level of individual watersheds.  The activities of these watershed groups can include advocacy, education, direct purchase of riparian lands or negotiation of protective easements, organizing river clean-ups, facilitating habitat restoration projects, and even sponsoring or facilitating research on their watershed.  The question becomes how can we as scientists in a professional society facilitate the work done by these watershed groups.  An initial step in trying to answer such a question is obtaining more details on the existence and activities of such organizations, and sharing examples of successful collaborative efforts between and among these groups. The sessions will highlight the work done by representatives of these watershed organizations and will include presentations of successful collaborative projects by non-profit organizations and scientists that highlight the role of these partnerships in advancing freshwater science and management of natural resources.

S23. Species addition and loss: effects on ecosystem processes

Organizers: Krista A. Capps (, Carla L. Atkinson, and Amanda Rugenski

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This session will present innovative and original work to advance the understanding of the effects of species invasion and species loss on ecosystem processes in freshwater habitats. Our goal is to use theoretical and applied work from studies of the addition of species and the loss of species from freshwater ecosystems to create a conceptual framework to quantify the effect of organisms on ecosystem processes. This goal will be achieved by addressing the following questions: 1) What patterns emerge from studies examining changes in ecosystem function after species invasion and species loss?, 2) Are these patterns consistent across study sites and study organisms? and 3) Are there specific character traits that make a species more apt to be an important driver of ecosystem function?

We will feature talks from students and senior scientists that present results from both theoretical and applied work from the United States and abroad. The session will create an environment for scientists studying the effects of species addition or loss on ecosystem function to come together to synthesize what is known about the impact of species invasion and loss on the function of aquatic ecosystems.

S24. Stream fragmentation: its causes, consequences, and solutions

Organizers: Troy Keller (

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This session will explore how dams, culverts, levies and other human created barriers alter stream ecosystems and affect their biodiversity. This problem is pervasive in developed countries and is becoming more widespread globally. Speakers are invited to present and describe the extent of the problem (locally, regionally or globally), its importance for streams and their biota, and its causes/potential solutions. The goal of this session is to expand our knowledge of river fragmentation, to publicize the scope of the problem, and to develop policy recommendations that can help improve the connectivity of our rivers.