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Plenary & Keynote sessions

Plenary speakers


University of Florida, USA


The goal of metacommunity ecology is to understand how local communities vary across a landscape in terms of environmental gradients, patch connectivity and disturbances in response to the dispersal and niche traits of species. Until now, the theories about metacommunities have focused on very idealized scenarios for this complex process that fall into four 'archetypes'; species sorting that focuses on how species respond to gradients, patch dynamics that focus on highly dispersive species that interact with better competitors, mass effects that focus on source-sink dynamics, and neutral theory that focuses on stochasticity. Although these archetypes have been useful in developing the field, they are not mutually exclusive and metacommunity ecology needs to develop theories and empirical methods that can study their joint effects.  Along with my colleagues, we have begun to do this with relatively simple landscape theories to make predictions about the distribution of species and with modifications to recent 'joint species distribution models' that can help identify how particular species and particular patches affect overall metacommunity structure.  This new approach can be enlarged to study additional factors and will hopefully help metacommunity ecology develop into productive new areas of study.

Mathew Leibold is Pre-eminent Professor of Biodiversity in the Department of Biology, University of Florida. Dr. Leibold received both his Bs and Ms at University of Arizona in 1980, and his Ph.D. at Michigan State University in 1988. From 1989 to 1990, he worked as a post-doc fellow at Duke University and Michigan State University. His current research interests include regulation of trophic structure (allocation of biomass to different functional groups within ecological communities), regulation of biodiversity and niche relations of phytoplankton and zooplankton at different spatial scales, effects of biodiversity on the stability of ecosystems, communities, and populations, metacommunity ecology, evolutionary ecology of interacting species at different spatial scales, and ‘Meta-community’ phylogeography. His goals are to conduct research that will serve to better integrate our knowledge of ecological processes and that will consequently facilitate solving environmental issues, and to contribute to efforts at making scientific approaches to ecology more accessible to society at large.



Utah State University, USA


In this talk, I show how hydrologic, thermal, and chemical modeling can improve the accuracy and precision of ecological assessments in freshwater ecosystems. Assessments of ecological status and trends require knowledge of ecological baselines, but neither physiochemical nor biological baselines are known for the vast majority of waterbodies. Furthermore, assessments are complicated by the natural spatial and temporal heterogeneity in the physiochemical, and thus biological, conditions that exist across individual waterbodies. Empirical models are used in some ecological assessments to predict the specific biological assemblages expected to occur under natural environmental conditions at individual waterbodies. However, these models depend on the availability of appropriate physiochemical predictors. Data for such predictors are often lacking for many individual waterbodies and entire regions, which greatly compromises assessments. Fortunately, advances in landscape-scale physiochemical modeling now allow us to establish species-predictor relationships for key environmental features such as water temperature, salinity, and hydrologic regimes. These models allow us to greatly extend the scope of ecological assessments.

Charles (Chuck) Hawkins is Professor in the Department of Watershed Sciences, Ecology Center Associate, and Co-Director of the USU/BLM National Aquatic Monitoring Center at Utah State University. He is a Fellow of the Society for Freshwater Science and the new Editor-in-Chief of Freshwater Science. His research focuses on understanding how landscape setting, local habitat conditions, and human-caused environmental alterations influence the biodiversity and ecological integrity of aquatic ecosystems at multiple spatial and temporal scales. He works with state and federal agencies throughout the United States and elsewhere to help make assessments of ecological status and trends both intuitive and scientifically defensible. He has taught courses in general ecology, freshwater invertebrate biology, stream ecology, and communicating science.



University of Washington, USA


There is a long history of species invasions in fresh waters and the magnitude and rate of introductions has accelerated greatly over time. Although not all introduced species have appreciable effects on their new ecosystems, many exert significant ecological, evolutionary, and economic impacts. For scientists, managers, and policy makers interested in conserving freshwater diversity, understanding and minimizing the magnitude and array of potential impacts of invasive species is of utmost importance. During my plenary talk, I will discuss the many persistent and emerging challenges associated with aquatic invasive species, providing illustrative examples from around the world.

Julian Olden is the H. Mason Keeler Endowed Professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, United States. Broadly motivated by a future where people recognize and respect the diverse values provided by functioning freshwater ecosystems, Julian seeks to integrate science-based approaches with on-the-ground management and conservation decisions. His research focuses the challenges associated with water resource management, dams, invasive species and climate change. Julian actively engages in generating and communicating science and believes that uncensored discussions are essential to meet the environmental challenges of the future and to strengthen the modern conservation movement.


Keynote speakers


Clemson University, USA


Taxonomy, the naming of plants and animals important for humans, was necessary for communication long before recorded history. Today, taxonomy's primary function remains the same, although our means for communicating have changed dramatically. We use the names of benthic organisms to store and retrieve scientific information about their structure, functions, biology, habitats, distribution, and other relevant characteristics through a vast and growing array of technological media. Names of benthic organisms are determined through modern systematics. Species of benthic organisms are named by systematists according to one of several different operating definitions, usually reflected in consistent morphological differences. Taxa above the level of species, such as genera, families, and orders, are named for groups of species inferred to have arisen through evolution from a single ancestral species, so that much of the scientific work of systematists includes the determination of historical evolutionary relationships from morphological, functional, and molecular data. Systematists usually depict their conclusions about evolutionary relationships in branching diagrams called cladograms or phylogenies, with hypothetical ancestral species assigned to stems of the diagrams. Therefore, systematics is necessary to facilitate the naming of all benthic organisms, making it possible to communicate everything we learn about them among people needing this knowledge for their own studies, including assessment of water quality. So taxonomy and the exciting, modern, scientific study of systematics and evolution are fundamental for progress in all other areas of biological science, including the study of plants, animals, and microbes living in the water.

Besides courses in insect systematics, insect larvae, and a variety of other topics, Dr. Morse has taught courses related to aquatic insects at Clemson, at Highlands Biological Station in North Carolina, USA, in several other states, and in 9 countries so far in East Asia for more than 43 years. His research specialty is the identification, biology, and historical development of caddisflies, which he has studied in many streams of the world since 1967. He and his students also investigate the identification, biology, and distribution of other aquatic insects, of stream ecology and conservation, and of the use of insect communities to monitor water pollution.



Oregon State University, USA


Anthropogenic disturbances have resulted in declines of freshwater biodiversity globally, especially since the agricultural and industrial revolutions--both driven by human population and economic growth. In recent decades, bioassessments have been increasingly employed because of their usefulness in depicting biological responses to multiple local stressors and catchment-scale pressures, as well as their meaningfulness to the concerned public and managers. Those bioassessments have been implemented at site, river or lake, basin, ecoregion, state or province, and national or continental scales. At least six key components are needed for rigorous bioassessments: 1) a probability or before-after-control-impact study design; 2) meaningful or minimally disturbed reference sites; 3) standard sampling methods; 4) quantitative and ecologically meaningful indicators; 5) linkages between the biological indicators and pertinent stressors and pressures; and 6) easily understandable reporting of results. In this talk, I will use various bioassessments from different continents to present examples of these components. Then I will outline major bioassessment research gaps and scientific shortcomings.

Dr. Hughes received his Ph.D. in Fisheries from Oregon State University and his M.Sc. in Resource Planning & Conservation and A.B. in Psychology & Biology from the University of Michigan. For 32 years, he contracted research with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, focusing on regional and national aquatic ecosystem studies and assessments. Bob currently works part-time for Amnis Opes Institute, focusing on biological assessments of streams, lakes, and rivers in Europe, Brazil, and China. Hughes is a Past-President of the American Fisheries Society (AFS, 2013-2014), the AFS International Fisheries Section (2015-2016), AFS Western Division (2006-2007), AFS Water Quality Section (1999-2001), and AFS Oregon Chapter (1994-1995). He is an AFS and Society for Freshwater Science Fellow, Oregon AFS Lifetime Achievement Awardee (2017), AFS Life Membership Awardee (2014), Best Paper Awardee Lake and Reservoir Management (2014), AFS Distinguished Service Awardee (2013), Oregon AFS Fisheries Worker of the Year Awardee (2011), Fulbright Scholar (2010, 2007), AFS Western Division Special Recognition Awardee (2010), and Best Paper Awardee Transactions of the American Fisheries Society (2008). He has authored or coauthored 200 peer reviewed publications and given 71 invited international presentations on 5 continents in 15 nations. Hughes is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Benthological Society of Asia (2014-2018) and chairs the Advisory Committee of the FLUVIO River Restoration and Management Program at the Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal (2014-2018). He was a member of the Independent Multidisciplinary Science Team of the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (2004-2016), chaired the Science & Policy Committee of the North American Benthological Society (2002-2011), and has served on the committees of 19 graduate students at 13 universities of 5 nations. His hobbies are alpine skiing, whitewater kayaking, fishing, hiking, backpacking, gardening, and soccer refereeing.



NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Australia


Biological monitoring of freshwaters is widely implemented across the world. In particular the use of river health indices based on the composition of macroinvertebrate assemblages is well-established. However, these methods are often implemented without an adequate conceptual framework and the outputs rarely influence environmental decision making. My current work focusses on development of conceptual models of freshwater ecosystems at multiple spatial scales based on the Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBV) concept. These models guide the choice of indicators and design of biodiversity monitoring programs, ensuring that they are fit-for -purpose. This includes the development of community-based monitoring of freshwater reptile species to assess freshwater ecosystem health and modelling of the “observed” taxonomic richness of macroinvertebrates for state-wide reporting on the status of freshwater biodiversity.

Dr. Eren Turak is Principal Scientist at the Office of Environment and Heritage in NSW, Australia. He is also co-chair of the Freshwater Biodiversity Observation Network (FWBON), which is a global community of practice dedicated to the monitoring and assessment of freshwater biodiversity. He completed is undergraduate degree and MSc at Macquarie University and PhD at UTS in Sydney. Eren’s research includes biological monitoring and classification of rivers, freshwater conservation planning, biodiversity monitoring and assessment frameworks, and estimating change in community composition, and the distribution and abundance of species. His current projects include the development of new methods for State-wide modelling and mapping of freshwater Biodiversity in NSW and Global harmonization of freshwater macroinvertebrate sampling and assessments.


Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, P.R. China


Anthropogenic disturbances impact stream and river ecosystems, which have been suffering tremendous habitat degradation and biodiversity loss. The ecological restoration of aquatic ecosystems receives great interest worldwide for stream/river biodiversity conservation. However, it appears that lacking Post-Project Appraisals to stream/river restoration not only hinders progress in ecosystem restoration science, but also limits the application of adaptive ecosystem management, whereby coordinated activities are systematically evaluated and lessons learned incorporated back into decision-making processes. In China, where the remediation of polluted stream/river habitats started over a decade ago, most of restoration projects were left without ecological monitoring and no evaluation to identify if the restoration approaches or techniques were efficient enough to recover ecosystem health. To improve the success and efficiency of stream/river ecosystem restoration and adaptive management in China, a river restoration monitoring and evaluation framework should be established by summing up Project Appraisals’ guidelines. For assessing ecosystem health recovery to riverine restoration, following parameters must be monitored: 1) Physiochemical attributes - reflecting environmental and habitat changes; 2) Biodiversity - including microbial organisms, algae, macrophytes, macroinvertebrates, fish etc.; 3) Ecosystem functioning - reflecting ecosystem health; 4) Ecosystem services – human/society depending on. The framework of Post-Project Appraisals should be generated to appraise the country-wide ecological restoration of degraded or damaged aquatic habitats in China for enhancing the effectiveness of ecosystem rehabilitation by increasing provision of multiple ecosystem services and conserving biodiversity.

Dr. Yixin Zhang is the Director of XJTLU Suzhou Urban and Environment Research Institute at Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University. Dr. Zhang received his PhD in Animal Ecology to work on black fly ecology in Sweden. Dr. Zhang conducted a variety of research projects at universities in three continents, including Umeå University - Sweden, University of California at Santa Barbara - USA, University of British Columbia - Canada, University of Hong Kong - China, Texas State University - USA. His research focuses on understanding ecological processes underlying stream ecosystems at a range of spatial scales. The small-scale researches involve functional morphology, phenotypic plasticity, and predator-prey interaction to study how habitat condition change influences these community properties. Large-scale researches work on (1) ecological topics of stream and river ecosystems for understanding effects of trophic flows across terrestrial-aquatic habitats on fish and benthic communities, (2) watershed impacts of land use change, including logging and urbanization, on stream benthic assemblages and ecosystem functioning. He has taught courses in Aquatic Biology, Stream Ecology, Entomology, Global Environmental Issues, Aquatic Field Skills, Ecology and Conservation, Aquatic and Urban Ecology, Fluvial Systems – From Headwaters to the Coasts.

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