Executive Summary

“It is a piece of ancient Greek wisdom that counting and measuring things is a much surer path to knowledge and understanding than any other.” (McCready, 2001)

In March 1989 the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, and spilled about 11 million gallons of oil. One element of various legal proceedings occurring as a result of the spill was a civil settlement that required Exxon Corporation to pay $900 million over 10 years to restore resources injured by the spill and compensate for reduced or lost services the resources provide. The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council composed of three federal and three state members was established to administer the funds. As part of its mission, the Trustee Council has disbursed substantial funding for research, first for damage assessment activities and later for monitoring and research. Significantly, the Trustees also set aside some of the funds to create a permanent trust intended to support continued, long-term research and monitoring in the region after the settlement period had ended.

Planning for this new activity, called the Gulf Ecosystem Monitoring (GEM) program, is now well under way. To help ensure that the GEM program is based on a science plan that is robust, far-reaching, and scientifically sound, the Trustee Council asked the National Academies to serve as an independent advisor. In June 2000 the National Academies appointed a special committee and charged it to review the scope and content of the program as it evolved. During the committee’s two-year tenure it met multiple times with Trustee Council staff and with scientists and



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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska Executive Summary “It is a piece of ancient Greek wisdom that counting and measuring things is a much surer path to knowledge and understanding than any other.” (McCready, 2001) In March 1989 the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, and spilled about 11 million gallons of oil. One element of various legal proceedings occurring as a result of the spill was a civil settlement that required Exxon Corporation to pay $900 million over 10 years to restore resources injured by the spill and compensate for reduced or lost services the resources provide. The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council composed of three federal and three state members was established to administer the funds. As part of its mission, the Trustee Council has disbursed substantial funding for research, first for damage assessment activities and later for monitoring and research. Significantly, the Trustees also set aside some of the funds to create a permanent trust intended to support continued, long-term research and monitoring in the region after the settlement period had ended. Planning for this new activity, called the Gulf Ecosystem Monitoring (GEM) program, is now well under way. To help ensure that the GEM program is based on a science plan that is robust, far-reaching, and scientifically sound, the Trustee Council asked the National Academies to serve as an independent advisor. In June 2000 the National Academies appointed a special committee and charged it to review the scope and content of the program as it evolved. During the committee’s two-year tenure it met multiple times with Trustee Council staff and with scientists and

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska community members to learn about the program’s intended goals and structure. To date, the committee has provided two written reports: a short letter report (November 2000) that comments on the program planning schedule and a more detailed interim report (February 2001) that critiques an early draft of the GEM program science plan (EVOSTC, 2001). The Trustee Council is to be commended for its foresight in setting aside money over the years to create the trust fund that will provide long-term support to the GEM program. As envisioned, that program will offer an unparalleled opportunity to increase understanding of how large marine ecosystems in general, and Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska in particular, function and change over time. The committee believes that this program has the potential to make substantial contributions of importance to Alaska, the nation, and environmental science. According to an early Trustee Council document, Restoration Update Winter 2000 (EVOSTC, 2000b), GEM was conceived to have three main components: long-term ecosystem monitoring (decades in duration); short-term focused research (one to several years in length); and ongoing community involvement, including use of traditional knowledge and local stewardship. The committee views this early simple vision of the program as a sound foundation upon which to build. In a later document (EVOSTC, 2000a), the purpose of the GEM program is further delineated to contain five program goals: detect, understand, predict, inform, and solve. The committee understands the general intent of these goals and the necessity of making the program responsive to both the needs of science and the needs of various agencies and the public. Nevertheless, as the committee discussed in its interim report, it remains concerned that these five goals are extremely diverse and far-reaching. While the GEM mission is a good general statement of intent, the committee remains concerned that such broad ambition exposes the program to the risk that it will be spread too thin to be effective. This report reviews the planning document entitled “Gulf of Alaska Ecosystem and Monitoring Program” (NRC Draft), Volumes I and II, provided in September 2001 (EVOSTC, 2001). During the course of this study, the committee saw progress in a number of areas. For example, the committee believes that the GEM planners made a significant effort to include the interests of diverse stakeholders (the Trustee Council, scientists, various advisory groups) in the science plan. We are pleased to see that the planning process has caused an evolution in the draft and the thinking behind it. We commend GEM planners for not taking the easy route of simply picking stations and starting data collection, and for taking the time to think about the conceptual foundation and develop the hypotheses that are necessary to define data needs. Finally, we find that the conceptual foundation is much improved from earlier drafts and discus-

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska sions; however, placing the conceptual foundation deep within Volume II is not appropriate because this late placement implies that it is an afterthought and not the foundation upon which the program is built. We conclude that GEM planners have made progress on the development of research hypotheses, although there is still room for more work in this area. GEM staff has made good efforts to involve the science community in its planning activities. Through these contacts they have made a solid start on plans to use modeling effectively and in developing a data management strategy. The committee found that the science review section is very useful. Although it may seem obvious, many of these positive strides have occurred because the Trustee Council and GEM staff have set up a planning process and are allowing adequate time for input, discussion, and revision. This process will make for a significantly better program over the long term. The committee has struggled, however, with its basic charge—to review the GEM program—because the science plan was literally evolving as we worked and we often were aiming at a moving target. We also struggled because, as scientists, we are more accustomed to dealing with research programs either instigated directly by scientists, such as the Global Ecosystem Dynamics program, or by agencies with clear mandates, such as Minerals Management Service’s Environmental Studies Program. Instead, GEM is a research program directed by a Trustee Council made up of six agency representatives, each carrying responsibilities for mission-oriented state and federal agencies. The Trustee Council’s role is made especially difficult because of the legal requirement that all its decisions be unanimous. GEM is supported by a staff that includes both scientists and non-scientists who have the unenviable job of balancing not only the expectations of the science community (the norm when developing a new science program) but also the expectations of various other Alaskan stakeholders and the inevitable political forces present in the Trustee Council itself. While this committee whole-heartedly endorses the idea of a long-term ecological research program in the Gulf of Alaska and commends the Trustee Council and other public decision makers for having the foresight to create such a program, we want to be clear that this report is not an endorsement of implementation of the GEM program as currently designed. ELEMENTS OF A SOUND LONG-TERM SCIENCE PLAN The GEM program offers an unparalleled opportunity to increase our understanding of the functioning of large marine ecosystems in general and the northern Gulf of Alaska and its adjacent waters in particular.

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska Few other research programs have a century-long time horizon. Thus, along with the opportunity afforded by GEM comes an obligation to craft a research plan that can endure over time. This plan requires a core set of measurements that can be taken consistently and indefinitely, as well as some flexibility to adjust to changes in conceptual understanding and research interests. Recent research evaluating coastal monitoring studies has identified seven themes necessary in all successful programs (Weisberg et al., 2000): Clearly define program goals and anticipated management products. Recognize the differences between physical and biological monitoring. Accommodate differences in space-time scales among ecosystems as they affect sampling design. Develop an effective archival and data dissemination strategy. Develop data products that will be useful to decision makers. Provide for periodic program review and flexibility in program design. Establish a stable funding base and management infrastructure. The committee concurs that these broad steps are central to all good research programs. In addition, the committee has identified a number of specific elements it deems essential for a successful long-term science program of the magnitude of GEM. These include development of a clear, strong conceptual foundation for the program, early definition of a geographic scope and focus for study, an organizational structure led by a qualified chief scientist, involvement of stakeholders in the planning process and research, substantial attention to data management to ensure safekeeping and accessibility, and periodic assessment of progress through synthesis and evaluation. The committee’s report is structured into sections addressing these key elements. CONCEPTUAL FOUNDATION The GEM program is conceived as a long-term monitoring program, because long time series are essential to detecting ecosystem change. However, it is absolutely vital to recognize that long-term monitoring per se will not necessarily lead to a better scientific understanding of the ecosystem. The value and utility of monitoring depends critically on the variables measured, the spatial and temporal extent and intensity of sampling, and the methods employed. Without a clear vision of the desired goals at the outset it is very difficult to establish monitoring programs that will provide data that will actually be useful over time. This is why the moni-

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska toring program must have a strong conceptual foundation and be driven by broad, “big-picture” hypotheses. For GEM the conceptual foundation needs to be broad, precisely because of the long time scale of the program. No one can know which theories, taxa, or processes will emerge as critical to the public or managers, or relevant to ecosystem functioning in future decades. Conceptual foundations that rest on a few indicator species, highly specific hypotheses (e.g., Pacific Decadal Oscillation), or current human impacts (e.g., fishing) are likely to be too narrow and inflexible to support the GEM mission. Instead, GEM must incorporate the sense that marine ecosystems change in response to physical and biological changes and human impacts, as is clearly expressed in the GEM mission statement. GEM planners are aware of the difficulty of pursuing long-term monitoring in the face of short-term interests: The GEM program has provisions for multi-decade measurements and for shorter research programs targeting specific issues or hypotheses, so that GEM can respond to current concerns without sacrificing the gathering of long-term data sets that will prove increasingly useful as they accumulate. Given its importance as a foundation and guiding force, the GEM conceptual foundation should not be hidden in Volume II of the draft science plan (EVOSTC, 2001); it should be located early in the articulation of the GEM science plan. SCOPE AND GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS Three important, interrelated elements must be addressed when defining the scope of a science plan, as a way of focusing attention on a practical subset of the many possible research questions. The first two elements, geographic focus and research approach, serve to set bounds on “where” the plan is applied. The geographic focus delimits the spatial extent of the plan. Research approach is the decision about how to divide research efforts in the geographic area (e.g., habitat types, species, flows of energy or materials, or the consequences of specific perturbations). The third component of scope, determining generally “what” will be measured, follows once the first two elements are agreed on and involves the selection of long-term variables to measure. When resources are finite, there are inevitable tradeoffs between the intensity and geographic scope of research. Given finite funds, multiple variables can be monitored in a small area or fewer variables can be measured in a larger area. The choice of geographic scale for a long-term science plan is based on considerations such as scientific criteria, the existing knowledge base, management needs, accessibility, and cost. The GEM plan has taken the entire Gulf of Alaska as its geographic

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska scope. In its interim report the committee recommended that GEM first focus long-term research in Prince William Sound, and then extend geographic coverage over time. The rationale underlying this recommendation was the difficulty of designing a useful research plan for such a broad area given limited funds, coupled with the utility of extending existing time series at the core of the area affected by the spill in 1989. Nevertheless, the Trustee Council is well within its prerogative to select any geographic scope, but if the program is to be successful, the scope should be justified on science and management grounds and must be appropriate to the funding level. Covering a large geographic scope in the absence of a scientific rationale (a unifying hypothesis) risks expending resources in a piecemeal fashion that will make synthesis and interpretation difficult. Because of the tradeoff between geographic scope and intensity of research effort, science plans covering large areas must include methods for stratifying observations and allocating funds. This focus can be provided in a number of ways, including an emphasis on habitats (as selected by GEM planners) or with other organizing concepts such as species, hypotheses, time, or flows of energy. In the GEM planning document (EVOSTC, 2001), the decision to organize by habitat is acceptable, but there are several problems that should be addressed. In the draft plan, hypotheses are presented as repetitive questions in each habitat type, and they will need considerable refinement before they can guide research. Most importantly, the habitat divisions may create a barrier to understanding links and transfers among habitats. The committee cautions against the development of habitat-based subcommittees in the organizational structure, as there is substantial risk of neglecting linkages among habitats. Different strategies will be required for the three types of research included in the GEM plan—measuring variables long-term, carrying out shorter-term studies of processes, and synthesizing and analyzing collected data sets. It is appropriate to devote considerable time and effort to making effective choices of what, where, and when to measure. The committee finds little indication that hypothesis testing will play a role in designing long-term research. Without clear hypotheses, there is little guidance on how these variables will be chosen, although the process appears to include some modeling, gap analysis, and workshops. ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE A credible scientific program must assure that the science base is sound and that program planning, implementation, community involvement, coordination, proposal solicitation, peer review, funding, interactions among investigators, data management, program oversight and review, and public outreach are efficient. Most interdisciplinary marine

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska ecosystem programs have a scientific steering committee (the equivalent of the Scientific and Technical Committee proposed by GEM planners [shown in Figure 4–1]) and a chief scientist or scientific director that together develop and implement the science plan and provide program oversight. The chief scientist works closely with the steering committee, but is ultimately responsible for developing and implementing the program science plan, and has authority regarding all scientific decisions after consultation with the principal investigators and steering committee. The GEM plan does not include detail on organizational structure, but a flowchart provided by staff (Figure 4–1) contains the necessary elements, although how these elements are implemented and given authority for real action is, of course, key. Science planning must continue during the life of the GEM program to assure program success. The core variables to be measured must be carefully selected and should not be modified without careful consideration during the life of GEM. This strategy will assure that consistent long-term data are obtained with the principal objective of distinguishing between human induced and natural changes in the Gulf of Alaska ecosystem. The Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee may be of value in both developing monitoring protocols and requests for proposals, but such a committee should not be the sole mechanism by which the variables to be measured are selected. Other input might be sought through targeted workshops designed to synthesize existing knowledge and determine the location and frequency of measurements of key biological, chemical, and physical variables. COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT Community involvement and the incorporation of traditional knowledge is critical to the GEM program’s long-term success. Early GEM-related documents indicated a clear desire to incorporate community involvement and traditional knowledge, however this emphasis appears to have receded in successive documents. The committee urges the Trustee Council to reconsider this change in emphasis. Why is incorporation of community involvement and traditional knowledge important? First, community involvement and traditional knowledge can contribute to the overall focus on ecosystem monitoring. Local residents possess valuable ecological knowledge that can be directly incorporated into established scientific models. Local residents can be a source of important research questions and can help assure that research is relevant to both ecological and community needs. In addition, local residents offer potential efficiencies in data collection efforts. A second rationale relates to equity issues. The GEM program, like

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska the Trustee Council itself, is the result of settlement funds dedicated to restoration of an ecosystem damaged by a human technological disaster (Erikson, 1994). This damaged ecosystem includes resource-dependent human communities (Picou and Gill, 1996), and these stakeholders have a justifiable interest in the outcome of the resulting activities. Public review does not equal public involvement, although it should be part of an overall commitment to public involvement. Meaningful community participation must consist of more than providing employment to local residents (to work on projects conceived and run by others), and must include participation in developing the actual research questions. This does not mean that employing local residents is inappropriate but rather that the continued identification of involvement exclusively with employment is unnecessarily narrow. Community involvement should be designed to promote meaningful participation and provide for flexibility as the GEM program evolves. In many respects the program will be breaking new ground in terms of integrating community involvement into a long-term science plan. The committee is under no illusion that successful incorporation of community involvement and traditional knowledge in the program will be easy, but we conclude that it is necessary. DATA AND INFORMATION MANAGEMENT The legacy of the GEM program will be the data it collects. Given the objective of establishing a long-term measurement program in the Gulf of Alaska and its importance to both regional and national interests, GEM must make a strong commitment to data and information management. The goals must be to facilitate data exchange among GEM scientific investigators, make data available to the public and others outside the scientific community, and archive GEM data products. GEM will need to make a major commitment to fund data management activities, probably through a Data Management Office composed of a data manager, assistants, and the necessary infrastructure to organize, disseminate, and archive data. That office would develop data policies, implement a data management system, ensure preservation of data with relevant documentation and metadata, review data management efforts, enforce data policies, and facilitate exchange of data with related oceanographic programs. GEM needs to be committed to the timely submission and sharing of all data collected by its researchers. Data management must have sufficient resources to accomplish its mission. Successful coastal monitoring efforts allocate as much as 20 percent of their total budget to data management (Sustainable Biosphere Initiative, 1996; Weisberg et al., 2000).

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska The general description of the data management architecture in the draft GEM science plan is very good. The basic functions of data receipt, quality control, storage and maintenance, archiving, and retrieval are adequately addressed. The report recognizes that different types of data products will be needed for basic research and analysis, modeling, resource management applications, and public outreach. Access to the data archives and software display will be an important component of public outreach. There will be multiple levels of complexity to data access, ranging from users with limited experience to use by the investigators who gathered the data. SYNTHESIS, MODELING, AND EVALUATION The committee understands the difficulty of writing a science plan to guide the GEM program for the next 100 years. It is simply not possible to know everything that should be addressed. Thus, the plan will need to be flexible. It must include procedures requiring synthesis of knowledge at specific points in time and opportunities to evaluate past efforts and make adjustments in direction. An initial synthesis needs to include several components. The first step for the GEM program to be successful, a much needed literature review, has been completed in the “Scientific Background” section in Volume II, Part 3 of the GEM plan. The second step, compilation, assessment, and analysis of data, has not been done. This step is critical to the third step, which is a synthesis of Exxon Valdez oil spill research from 1989 to the present. Although a few Trustee Council-supported programs have completed synthetic views of their results (e.g., Fisheries Oceanography, Vol. 10, Suppl. 1, “A Sound Ecosystem Assessment Synthesis”), many have not. The knowledge gained and publicized about Prince William Sound is extensive because of Trustee Council funding. Retrospective analyses have led to new hypotheses and ideas in many instances; there is, however, much more to be gained from the past studies that should be used to direct the future of GEM. The synthesis of data and assessment of what has been learned in the recent studies will provide a baseline from which to develop hypotheses to guide GEM research. Annual reports are not peer-reviewed publications and do not qualify as syntheses. Synthesis and modeling are interconnected. For example, initially one could create a conceptual model to identify quantities that need to be measured, collect data, synthesize data, and then create a more refined quantitative model. Alternatively, one could collect and synthesize data, and then generate a statistical model that could be used to collect more data to verify the model. Regardless of the order of these steps and the sophistication of the techniques, the components of synthesis and modeling are both critical. The combination of synthesis and modeling provides

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska tools for evaluation of past work, testing the appropriateness and accuracy of hypotheses, and generation of new hypotheses. The elements of a successful modeling component are outlined in the GEM plan. The GEM program should work toward more realistic and accurate numerical models for the prediction of ecological processes. The unparalleled opportunity of a long-term observation program in the Gulf of Alaska, coupled with a concerted effort in modeling, will produce exciting new tools for the management of the Gulf of Alaska’s ecological resources. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Opportunity for Sustained Study Conclusion: GEM is an important opportunity to do truly long-term research in a marine ecosystem, and this long-term approach is essential to distinguish natural variability from human impacts. The long-term nature of the program, intended to cover a period of many decades, is the flagship contribution of the plan. Long-term monitoring by definition must include sustained, consistent observations over a long period and thus requires a long-term commitment from the highest levels of decision makers. This commitment will require a substantial financial investment. Short- and medium-term research is an appropriate way to address current questions and management needs, but the fundamental importance of the long-term program should not be lost. Recommendation: The majority of GEM funds should be spent on long-term monitoring and research, that is, sustained observations of ecosystem components and ecological processes over decades. This long-term perspective will be the GEM program’s special contribution to scientific understanding in Alaska’s marine environment; most other research programs are short-term. These long-term measurements will be necessary to differentiate the effects of natural variation from human-induced changes on the Gulf of Alaska ecosystem. The coastal Long-Term Ecological Research sites funded by the National Science Foundation provide good models of such long-term research. Elements of a Sound Long-Term Research Plan Conclusion: A sound, long-term research plan must clearly define its conceptual foundation, scope, organizational structure, data management methods, and methods for periodic synthesis and review. The conceptual foundation presented in the draft science plan is adequate and with mod-

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska est restatement as a hypothesis could be a useful focus for research. The science plan and research objectives need to be directly linked to this conceptual foundation. Recommendation: The current draft science plan (EVOSTC, 2001) needs to be shortened considerably by removing tangential materials so that it is a clear guide for the future. The conceptual foundation needs to be discussed early in the GEM planning document because that placement captures its importance as the fundamental building block on which the rest of the program depends. The science plan should include a broad conceptual foundation that is ecosystem-based. It should seek to understand natural and human-induced changes and it should be flexible to accommodate changing needs without compromising core long-term measurements. These hypotheses will provide a bridge between the conceptual foundation and the eventual implementation of the science program. Because the conceptual foundation states that the ecosystem is affected by both natural variability and human-induced change, as the plan is implemented both of these drivers should be addressed in studies. Implementation of the GEM Program Conclusion: The planning process for GEM has been difficult and costly, but the investment in planning is critical for success. Long-term measurements cannot begin until after the appropriate variables have been identified, and these must be based on the conceptual foundation and hypotheses. The planning and design of sampling will continue to take considerable time and effort in the early years of the program. It is more important to identify the right variables than to rush to collect data. Recommendation: The GEM plan and planning process need to provide careful consideration of what to measure, how often, and where, based on input from a broad cross-section of the scientific community, local communities, and managers. These decisions on hypotheses and attendant measurements should be made by the chief scientist working with the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee and other independent scientists and stakeholders over the course of several years as program implementation gets under way. GEM’s Role in Gulf of Alaska Research Conclusion: GEM’s primary goal should be to develop a comprehensive and eventually predictive understanding of the Gulf of Alaska ecosystem. The long-term nature of GEM will enable it to serve as a framework for

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska marine research in the Gulf of Alaska. Other programs will come and go on shorter time frames and should be encouraged to coordinate with GEM, but GEM does not have the resources to be the central coordinating body for all such efforts. Recommendation: The focus of GEM should be its long-term program, and GEM decision makers should not try to do too much or this will dilute GEM’s limited resources and impact. Because of the long time frame of GEM, it can provide a building block for partnering with other programs that will come and go, but it should not be distracted by the idea of assuming leadership of Gulf of Alaska marine research. Recommendation: GEM should not see its role as filling the gaps in other programs, because adding these kinds of activities will inevitably erode funding for the GEM core measurements. This does not preclude GEM from involvement in other programs in which the research is addressing issues or collecting data that has been identified as necessary for addressing the central hypotheses of GEM. Recommendation: It simply is not possible for GEM, given its resources, to play a leadership role in both scientific research and day-to-day support of resource management. GEM should not be involved in the types of monitoring that are typically the responsibilities of agencies. GEM should not subsume routine surveys, stock assessments, and data collection that have been the normal province of resource management agencies. Of course, a large monitoring program like GEM will supply much information that is useful to resource management agencies as a result of its own activities. Community Involvement Conclusion: The GEM plan does not currently describe effective and meaningful ways to involve local communities. This involvement should occur at all stages, from planning (e.g., selecting the questions to be addressed and variables to be monitored) to oversight and review. Local knowledge and traditional ecological knowledge can be used to generate ecologically sound and socially relevant research ideas. Science and community partnerships can lead to achievements that neither could attain independently. Specifically, such collaborations provide scientific knowledge as well as community education and local support of science. These outcomes are important especially because of the long-term nature of GEM; such involvement might be less critical in shorter programs, but the century scale requires the establishment of long-term bonds.

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska Recommendation: The Trustee Council and GEM program staff must continue to seek ways to build meaningful community involvement at all stages of planning and implementation, from selecting the questions to be addressed and identifying the variables to be monitored to providing program oversight. It was outside the scope of this committee to advise specifically on what programs or methods to use; neither are we as experienced as GEM staff in dealing with Alaska’s diverse communities of interest. Nonetheless, we are certain that the community involvement debate will continue until better resolution of this issue is found. Geographic Scope Conclusion: No program can be expected to meet the needs of all potential data users, and tradeoffs are inevitable between the intensity and spatial range of sampling. That is, if the scope of GEM is physically large, then its long-term research component will be able to collect less information at any one site (because there is a finite amount of information that can be collected with finite financial resources). If the scope of GEM is physically smaller, there can be more monitoring sites or more types of information collected. Research projects and sampling will need to be selected very carefully to avoid diluting activities so that their usefulness is limited. GEM planners can choose to obtain more limited information from a large area or more in-depth information from a smaller area. Recommendation: GEM planners must make an explicit choice on how to focus the program’s research. There are many options for carrying out coordinated research that avoid piecemeal projects. One option is to concentrate on a particular geographic area, as the committee recommended in its interim report. Another possibility is to target a few variables across a broad geographic range, such as measuring physical oceanographic variables over long time periods (e.g., temperature, salinity, currents). It is possible to concentrate attention on particular habitats in a large geographic range. These choices must be guided by the conceptual foundation and the hypotheses selected for investigation. Using Habitat as an Organizing Concept Conclusion: GEM or any large research program can organize its effort and funds in many ways and still be successful. The habitat approach described in the GEM science plan is one way of dividing attention and funds, and it has the advantage of being understandable to many of the

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska program’s key stakeholders. GEM planners need to be aware of its one critical disadvantage: A habitat approach can fail to address key linkages, flows, and processes between habitats, which is where many of the most interesting lessons of the long-term GEM program might be seen. Recommendation: Given the habitat approach selected, GEM planners must make a concerted effort to ensure that the program has clear, concrete mechanisms to address cross-habitat links. This does not necessarily mean creating a linkage subcommittee but rather building into each habitat study the opportunity to make measurements of flows among habitats and highlight other interactions. Across-habitat connections must be addressed during synthesis and modeling. These efforts are essential to creating a truly integrated program, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Organizational Structure Conclusion: The GEM research plan is being developed to carry out long-term research, short-term research, and synthesis and modeling of data sets. Soliciting proposals, evaluating proposals, and the time frame for the research effort and its funding will differ for these scientific activities. The current science plan does not distinguish these activities in terms of the procedures necessary to manage them and achieve useful results, or even that the goals of these three approaches differ. Strong scientific guidance is required through all the activities of GEM. Recommendation: GEM planners, with input from the science community, should identify how these three kinds of scientific endeavors will be incorporated and managed within the science plan. For instance, long-term research projects, short-term research projects, and synthesis efforts will require different mechanisms for proposal solicitation and evaluation and different time frames for funding. Recommendation: The scientific leadership of the GEM program should be in the hands of a chief scientist advised by a Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee. The chief scientist should have adequate assistance to execute the program. Conclusion: The organizational structure supporting GEM needs to ensure ongoing, independent scientific oversight and review. It should be easy for new researchers and local community members to be involved in planning and carrying out the research projects. If the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee is to function effectively and play a leadership

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska role in developing and directing the GEM scientific and technical program, its membership must be selected carefully. Recommendation: The Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee will play a key role in leading the GEM program and ensuring program credibility. Committee members should be chosen based on their scientific expertise and their ability to link across the marine habitats and disciplines. To obtain the best program oversight over time there should be regular rotation of the members of all advisory groups, such as the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee. Advisory Committee members should be, and should be perceived to be, neutral parties who are focused on the long-term success of the program. Members may need to be compensated for their service; they should have term limits of three to five years with no direct GEM research funding during their period of service. Recommendation: The design of proposal solicitations and final recommendations for Trustee Council funding should be major functions of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee and chief scientist. In designing proposal solicitations, the Advisory Committee should be responsible for developing the scientific and technical subjects required to address GEM goals. Community workshops hosted by the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee would be one method to help articulate community-generated research needs and could be a way to increase the participation of local communities that use Gulf of Alaska resources. The Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee and chief scientist should be responsible for organizing workshops designed to provide input on core variables to be measured over time. Final decisions on variable selection can be based on hypotheses proposing how each variable provides insight into human and climate-based changes in the ecosystem. Recommendation: There should be an open process for nominating individuals to serve on the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, both during its initial formation and as the GEM program continues. Various independent scientific groups can assist in the initial formation to help broaden the selection process and find candidates with suitable experience in the initiation and implementation of large-scale, long-term ecological research. The chief scientist should review the nominations and recommend selections with appropriate documentation to the Trustees, who are responsible for the appointments.

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska Data and Information Management Conclusion: There will be significant costs associated with data and sample processing and with data archiving. It is a common mistake to underestimate the cost of data and information management. To extract the full scientific value of any research program, data and information must be made available to the scientific community, resource managers, policy makers, and the public on a timely basis. Each of these audiences will require information in a different format. The committee commends the initial development of data management procedures; careful implementation of these procedures is key. Recommendation: GEM should create a comprehensive Data Management Office (not just an archive but a group of people who address these issues). Other large science programs spend as much as 20 percent of funds on data management. The multi-decadal scale of GEM will require a similar commitment.