3
Determining Scope and Geographic Focus

SCOPE

Three interrelated elements must be defined when setting the scope of a science plan in order to focus attention and resources on a practical subset of the vast array of 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. The research approach is the decision about how to divide research efforts in the geographic area. For instance, based on the program’s main goals planners might elect to give disproportionate attention to particular habitat types, species, flows of energy or materials, or the consequences of specific perturbations. The third component of scope is determining generally “what” will be measured, which follows once the first two elements are agreed on and involves the selection of core long-term variables to measure.

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

When resources are finite, there are inevitable tradeoffs between the intensity and geographic focus of research. Multiple variables can be monitored in a small area, but only a few are feasible to monitor at multiple locations. The choice of geographic scale for a long-term science plan should include the following considerations:

Scientific criteria. Is the scale relevant to the hypotheses of interest? Specific questions about human-induced and other changes can be framed



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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska 3 Determining Scope and Geographic Focus SCOPE Three interrelated elements must be defined when setting the scope of a science plan in order to focus attention and resources on a practical subset of the vast array of 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. The research approach is the decision about how to divide research efforts in the geographic area. For instance, based on the program’s main goals planners might elect to give disproportionate attention to particular habitat types, species, flows of energy or materials, or the consequences of specific perturbations. The third component of scope is determining generally “what” will be measured, which follows once the first two elements are agreed on and involves the selection of core long-term variables to measure. GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS When resources are finite, there are inevitable tradeoffs between the intensity and geographic focus of research. Multiple variables can be monitored in a small area, but only a few are feasible to monitor at multiple locations. The choice of geographic scale for a long-term science plan should include the following considerations: Scientific criteria. Is the scale relevant to the hypotheses of interest? Specific questions about human-induced and other changes can be framed

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska at a variety of scales. For example, at relatively small scales: How does the consumption of intertidal herbivores by humans affect algal production? At relatively large scales: Is offshore production, as indicated by chlorophyll, related to the nesting success of seabirds? According to its title, the GEM plan takes the Gulf of Alaska as its scope. However, the central hypothesis of the plan—that natural and anthropogenic factors interact to influence biological productivity—could be addressed at a variety of scales in the Gulf of Alaska. Building on the knowledge base. As a new research program is developed it can build on past work in three ways: (1) by continuing past work (extending the time frame), (2) by collecting information on unstudied variables (extending the intensity), or (3) by collecting information in unstudied locations (extending the spatial scale). The choice among these options requires that existing data be synthesized first. Many of the natural changes in the Gulf of Alaska are thought to cycle at intervals of several decades. Because little monitoring has been ongoing for such long periods, continuing past measurements may represent the most effective way of testing for variation at this temporal scale. Second, if two existing measurements show striking correlations, measuring new variables can be an effective way of testing the mechanisms of interaction among complex environmental factors. For instance, if ocean survival of salmon varies with phytoplankton production, then measuring forage fish abundance and demography could provide an intermediate food-web linkage. Finally, extending the spatial scale of measurements is important for determining the generality of hypotheses that have previously been tested only locally. This last choice in particular requires adequate synthesis of existing data; otherwise, it is impossible to ask whether existing patterns are general (because there are no existing patterns). Management needs. Although GEM’s mandate is not resource management, most large science programs are justified in part by the usefulness of products provided for decision makers (Weisberg et al., 2000). Most management issues are fundamentally local because this is the scale of human impacts (barring atmospheric change); however, the precise locations where prior data would be useful can shift over time. For instance, baseline data in Prince William Sound would be useful if another oil spill occurred there but it would not address eutrophication in Cook Inlet. A broad geographic scope can improve the chances that long-term measurements remain relevant as management issues change. Accessibility and cost. Cost is the basic limitation setting the tradeoff between intensity and scale of monitoring. One drawback of a large geographic scope is that tremendous resources are required simply to travel to research sites. Travel costs may be reduced if monitoring is carried out in local communities and if automated data collection is used for basic

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska measurements. Many hypotheses can be tested using a variety of methodologies, variables, or research sites. For instance, Pajak (2000) proposed 13 fundamental ways to measure ecosystem sustainability, incorporating ecological and social considerations, and provided six variables that would be suitable for each. It follows that cost could be used as a criterion for choosing among monitoring sites or variables with similar ecological importance. The GEM plan has taken the northern Gulf of Alaska as its geographic scope. In its interim report the committee recommended that GEM initiate long-term research in Prince William Sound, then extend geographic coverage over time. The rationale underlying this recommendation was the difficulty of designing a useful research plan for a broader area given limited funds, coupled with the utility of extending time series at the core of the area affected by the spill in 1989. The Trustee Council is well within its prerogative to select any geographic scope, however, 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. Although it is possible to justify a focus on the entire Gulf of Alaska given the above criteria for selecting geographic scope, the committee is concerned that the geographic scope has been chosen primarily to be sure that all stakeholders get a “piece of the pie.” Covering a large geographic scope in the absence of a scientific rationale (unifying framework) risks dividing resources in a piecemeal fashion that will make synthesis and interpretation difficult. Indeed, this problem is epitomized by the list of interim projects in GEM planning documents. There is a strong geographic focus on Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet, for instance, which may reflect the distribution of humans along the coast rather than addressing core hypotheses. In addition, existing oceanographic measurements (GAK1 hydrographic station, ADCP current measurements at Hinchinbrook Entrance, thermosalinograph and fluorometer on a tanker, and thermosalinograph on a Kachemak Bay boat) are not obviously linked to the three projects on modeling ocean circulation. A politically motivated scope is particularly detrimental to long-term monitoring if the projects focus intensely on particular areas for short periods of time. If GEM activities are directed by current management concerns, it is likely that the geographic focus will be buffeted, and the monitoring will fail to provide the long time series it is uniquely poised to generate. If the geographic scope remains as the entire Gulf of Alaska, it is imperative that the choice of variables to measure be made with extreme care. The Gulf of Alaska is an area of about 1.2 million km2 and the continental shelf in the Gulf of Alaska is 0.37 million km2, about 10 percent of the entire U.S. continental shelf area (Hood, 1986). GEM is projected to

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska provide about $6 million annually for research and staff to facilitate science and education (<www.oilspill.state.ak.us/future/future.htm>). Although this is a sizeable budget, the area to be covered is quite large. Other large programs in marine science provide an instructive comparison (Table 3–1). The focus of each of these programs is much more targeted than is GEM, yet most have more money to spend on a per-area basis (Table 3–1). HABITATS AS A DIVISIONAL UNIT 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 for short-term process studies. This focus can be provided in a number of ways. Flows of energy, impact, or materials. The plan could focus on one or a few important flows through the geographic area, for instance, across-shelf transport or movement of pollutants through food webs. Habitats or regions. The plan could foster research in smaller areas that are believed to be representative of a broader region or habitat type. Species. The plan could focus on one or a few species throughout the geographic area. Hypotheses. The plan could target research toward a restricted hypothesis, for instance, taking measurements that would support or disprove the Pacific Decadal Oscillation as a cyclic climatic shift. Time. The plan could incorporate intentions to develop research projects in different areas over time. This strategy would approximate that of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program (<www.epa.gov/nep>), which provides funds to develop management plans in one estuary after another. This strategy is generally inappropriate when the plan’s mandate is to generate consistent long-term data sets. Of these options for stratifying observations, habitat is perhaps the most widely used approach. Division by habitat has one clear advantage for GEM implementation: It clarifies the amount of money being spent close to and far from shore. The GEM plan articulates a rationale for focusing on nearshore observations and studies: This area is relatively unstudied, and people living along the coast interact with it directly. Division by habitat has several problems. In the GEM document, hypotheses are presented as repetitive questions listed for each habitat type, but they would need considerable refinement before they could be a useful guide for research. For example, the GEM document asks the same

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska TABLE 3–1 Comparison of Funding Levels for Large Marine Research Programs Program Annual Funding ($) Shoreline Length (km)a Annual Funding ($ per km) Area (km2) Annual Funding Per Area ($) GEMb 6×106 1,500 4,000 1.2×106 5 PISCOc 5.75×106 2,000 2,875     GLOBECd 3×106 250 12,000 48,000 62 SEAe 3×106     38,000 80 Chesapeake Bayf 12×106 7,000 1,700 5,900 2,000 aFor these different programs, the method for determining shoreline length is inconsistent, so these comparisons are approximate. GEM and GLOBEC are done similarly but the others might be determined using fractals that can make the length a less dependable number. bGEM shoreline length measured on map; annual funding estimated. cPISCO (Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans) addresses benthicpelagic coupling on rocky shores in California and Oregon. Shoreline length from <www.piscoweb.org>; annual funding estimated. dGLOBEC (Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics) focused on a small area of the Gulf of Alaska. Shoreline length measured on map; annual funding estimated. eSEA (Sound Ecosystem Assessment) was a major portion of EVOSTC-funded research, developed in 1993 and ran for seven years. Information from GEM program and <www.oilspill.ak.us/research/resrch.htm#SEA3>. fChesapeake Bay shoreline length from <222.gmu.edu/bios/bay/cbpo/into.htm>; funding level estimated by committee. questions for continental shelf and nearshore areas, although these areas have different natural and anthropogenic forcing functions (Table 3–2). Most importantly, the habitat divisions may set up 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 in setting research goals. Table 3–2 reproduces, in tabular form, the habitat-specific questions that form the core of the GEM plan (vol. 1, ch. 3). These questions actually begin to develop a set of hypotheses about how natural and anthropogenic factors influence ecosystem functioning, recognizing that different factors may be important in different habitats. As these hypotheses are refined by a scientific steering committee, they could help guide the selection of long-term observations and process-oriented research. The committee discussed these working hypotheses in some detail, and it offers a few observations about the current framework. These ob-

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska TABLE 3–2 Current Hypotheses About Natural and Anthropogenic Forcing Functions in Four Gulf of Alaska Habitats as Provided in Volume 1, Chapter 3, of the GEM Plan (EVOSTC, 2001) Habitat Type Natural Forcing Functions Anthropogenic Forcing Functions Habitat Variable of Interest Watershed Climate Habitat degradation Fishing Marine-related production (nutrients from salmon) Intertidal/subtidal Currents Predation Development Urbanization Community structure and dynamics Alaska Coastal Current Strength, structure, and dynamics of the Alaska Coastal Current Fishing Pollution Production of phytoplankton, zooplankton, birds, fish, mammals Offshore Alaskan Current/Alaskan stream Mixed layer depth Wind stress Downwelling Pollution Carbon production and shoreward transport servations are not meant to be prescriptive; they simply point out areas that require additional consideration. Some of the forcing functions are not parallel. For instance, “climate” is hypothesized to affect watershed production, but more specifically “wind stress, mixed layer depth, and downwelling” are hypothesized to affect production offshore. Some of the habitat variables of interest, which should reflect ecosystem functioning, are too general or inclusive to measure. Specifically, “production of phytoplankton, zooplankton, birds, fish, and mammals” would require monitoring all taxa in the coastal region. Similarly, “community structure and dynamics” in the intertidal/subtidal zone provides no indication of which taxonomic groups are expected to be most sensitive to change or most important to human communities. The metrics most sensitive to perturbations or stresses may not be abundance but the size or age structure of populations (Paine et al., 1996; Driskell et al., 2001; Monson et al., 2000). The Alaska Coastal Current travels through a relatively narrow band (<50 km) of the coastal region of the Gulf of Alaska, so it would be useful to use two different habitats instead: (1) the nearshore to 50 km, including bays, sounds, and the Alaska Coastal Current; and (2) the continental shelf

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska that extends from the nearshore to the shelf break. Finally, it is possible to incorporate across-habitat linkages by developing hypotheses about how different habitats may be strongly coupled or the degree to which they behave independently. Table 3–3 provides a refined set of hypotheses about how natural and anthropogenic forcing functions and across-habitat linkages may influence biological production. We emphasize again that this framework is not prescriptive but is provided to illustrate how study of linkages might be accomplished. These kinds of refinements should be made as the plan develops, using existing scientific data to justify choices of most important forcing functions. Both the forcing functions and “habitat” response need to be measured to test the underlying hypotheses. CHOICE OF VARIABLES AND RESEARCH PROJECTS The three types of research included in the GEM plan—measuring variables over the long term, carrying out shorter-term studies of processes, and synthesizing and analyzing collected data sets—will require different strategies for implementation (from the call for proposals to the selection process to the evaluation phase). Recognizing that many large scientific programs focus on just one or two of these types of research, it is clear that GEM planners will face challenges giving appropriate weight to each type and designing implementation strategies for each. Important points for GEM planners to consider for each type include: Long-term research requires a large amount of up-front effort to choose variables. Determining who carries out long-term research is particularly difficult because it cannot (and should not) be assumed that the same research group will collect the information for the next 100 years. Data collection efforts should be evaluated on the order of every five years. Sampling protocols should be kept as constant as possible and if changes in technology occur, ample attention should be paid to inter-calibration of the time series. Short-term process studies will give the GEM program some of the flexibility it needs; typically, requests for proposals for this type of work occur every one to two years, so that the focus can be changed in accordance with steering committee and community interests. Synthesis should be an ongoing effort, some of which will involve modeling. Invitations for proposals should occur every two to four years, and a postdoctoral program might be an excellent way to have long-term data sets analyzed in novel ways (for instance, see the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis postdoc program at <http://www.nceas.ucsb.edu/frames.html>).

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska TABLE 3–3 Potential Habitat Divisions in the Gulf of Alaska and Hypotheses About Most Important Factors Influencing Biological Production Habitat Type Natural Forcing Functions Anthropogenic Forcing Functions Strongest Across-Habitat Links Habitat Variable of Interest Watershed Rainfall Offshore production Habitat degradation Fishing Salmon returns Marine-related production within watersheds Intertidal/subtidal Predation Shoreline development Pollution Direct exploitation Larval and food delivery from continental shelf Recruitment and species interaction strengths Nearshore, including Alaska Coastal Current Wind stress Freshwater Fishing Pollution Freshwater input Biomass and production of phytoplankton, zooplankton, and forage fish Continental shelf Resupply of nutrients Currents Mixed layer depth Anthropogenic climate change Across-shelf flows   Offshore Mixed layer depth Wind stress Anthropogenic climate change Across-shelf flows Phytoplankton production and shoreward transport

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska Balancing Long- and Short-Term Research Long- and short-term studies differ in their focus and their funding requirements. A research plan that aims to fund both, as the GEM program does, must decide how to balance resource allocation to best meet its program goals. The present GEM draft plan does not address this critical issue. The term “monitoring” has always been in the title of the GEM plan, and the committee believes this focus on long-term monitoring should remain central to the GEM program. Many of the biological and physical processes of interest to GEM operate at decadal or longer temporal scales, and require long-term measurement if patterns and variability are to be evaluated. The ability of GEM to support long-term marine ecosystem studies is essentially unprecedented. No other current programs have this capability, nor are they likely to. In contrast, there are numerous funding sources for short-term research projects. The committee recognizes that short-term studies can be valuable for optimizing long-term study design. For example, they might be used to evaluate which of several techniques are most appropriate for remote sensing of nearshore measurements. The committee feels the GEM program should start out by devoting the majority of its resources, perhaps even all of them, to setting up and maintaining the long-term research program, with few resources used initially for short-term research. (Resource allocation is discussed in more detail in Chapter 4.) Strategies for Effective Choice of Long-Term Measurements A well-crafted, long-term research plan addresses the program objectives as defined in a mission statement and a conceptual foundation. Although spatial and temporal scope (i.e., where to conduct measurements and for how long) may be settled in many ways, the core variables (what to measure and how often) usually flow from hypotheses and models. A comprehensive database of existing research results can aid in the development of these hypotheses. For effective management of coastal resources, monitoring programs must collect data at multiple scales, and most importantly, must link measurements between these scales, an often difficult process (Weisberg et al., 2000). Such linkages are necessary to provide managers with predictive models of the interrelated processes underlying ecosystem function to support wise decisions for managing resources. Because of the long time frame of GEM, it is critical that the core variables for monitoring be chosen with great care. The GEM plan outlines a general strategy for identifying these variables and implementing the

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska monitoring program (Figures 3–1 and 3–2). This strategy shows that GEM’s mission and goals imply a broad conceptual foundation, from which will emerge hypotheses. Research to address these hypotheses will be carried out if similar work is not already being done. In short, hypotheses and questions get priority, and the plan recognizes the utility of asking whether existing data can address these questions before embarking on entirely new data collection. The committee agrees with this general strategy. The role of synthesis. The GEM plan is inconsistent in exactly how synthesis fits into the choice of long-term variables. Selection of long-term measurements may include some modeling (EVOSTC, 2001, vol. I, p. 37—“Initial synthesis activities, including modeling, would support identification and development of testable hypotheses.”). Data synthesis is identified as preceding research in some parts of the text (EVOSTC, 2001, vol. I, p. 37—“Synthesis—Research—Monitoring”), but is listed as concurrent with research in other sections (research and synthesis are identified as concurrent activities in 2003, the first year of plan implementation). What is an appropriate order? FIGURE 3–1 In the GEM plan selection of the variables to be measured starts with the mission and goals established by the Trustee Council, as expressed in the conceptual foundation, and is developed with input from numerous sources (EVOSTC, 2001, vol. I, p. 38).

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska FIGURE 3–2 A schematic overview of the structure of the GEM draft science plan, showing the relation of key concepts to the habitat and the schedule of implementation (EVOSTC, 2001, vol. I, p. iii). Hypotheses can precede synthesis; indeed, they can help guide it. Some variables for long-term measurements may need to be chosen before synthesis is complete, because synthesis should continue through the life of GEM. Data synthesis must be included in an ongoing process throughout the life of the GEM program to optimize identification of additional variables for both short- and long-term projects. For the GEM program enormous amounts of data already exist on the physical and biological features of the Gulf of Alaska, much of which has been generated by Trustee Council-supported research undertaken since the Exxon Valdez oil spill. At present these data have been gathered but have not been synthesized into a comprehensive, easily accessible database. Creation of such a database should begin immediately, with rapid updating of data in a readily usable form. (Approaches to data synthesis and model building are discussed in more detail in Chapter 7.)

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska BOX 3–1 Markers of Ecosystem Health Parameters or markers associated with ecosystem health have been used in numerous monitoring programs such as the Bermuda Atlantic Time Series (BATS), Hawaii Ocean Time Series (HOTS), and California Cooperative Fisheries Investigations (CALCOFI). GEM should look to these programs for guidance in choosing such markers, keeping in mind that some indicators may not be appropriate for the Gulf of Alaska ecosystem. For example, biodiversity has been used as an indicator of ecosystem health in many programs but may not be appropriate for high stress environments. In Alaska rapid colonizers may be wiped out catastrophically by winter storms, yet return the following year. Such natural patterns in community structure must be distinguished from anthropogenic effects for biodiversity to be a useful indicator of ecosystem health in the Gulf of Alaska. The role of workshops. Identification of suitable variables for long-term research will in the end be carried out by the steering committee as it develops proposal solicitations and evaluation criteria. While these proposal invitations must be derived from GEM’s conceptual foundation to maintain program focus, it is critical that community input be incorporated into the proposal solicitation at this early stage of the program. Two ways that substantive community input could be obtained would be through the Public Advisory Committee and by holding a series of workshops covering variables for long-term measurements. Workshops are not included in the plan but do appear to be funded this year (e.g., concerning herring, ocean circulation, and intertidal monitoring as described in EVOSTC [2001], vol. I, p. 56). It is unclear whether they will include community, manager, and researcher participation. Valuable metrics of long-term change are those most sensitive to climate and/or anthropogenic trends or perturbations. In this regard GEM might also consider variables that serve as markers of ecosystem health. Such markers have been used in other long-term research programs (Box 3–1). Implementation of the Plan Proposal solicitations based on the conceptual foundation and designed by an integrated group of scientists and community stakeholders will ensure that both quality science and issues of relevance to the community are incorporated into the plan. Selection of those proposals that best address the solicitation will ensure that the variables most sensitive

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska to changes in the system, and most relevant to the program’s goals, are chosen for long-term measurement. Data synthesis must be seen as an ongoing process and provisions made to ensure timely incorporation of new data into the database. A commitment to timely data synthesis will facilitate timely recognition of patterns and their normal range of variability. If long-term baseline data had been available for more species in the Gulf of Alaska at the time of the spill, managers would have been able to determine whether shifts in population densities were due to the spill and cleanup efforts or simply reflected population trends already in progress at the time of the accident. Concerns About Choice of Variables The choice of variables to monitor should not be done exclusively through gap analysis or by partnering with existing programs. Selection procedures need to address how often and where variables will be measured at the same time that particular variables are chosen. Effective implementation of the strategy for selecting variables, which we believe needs to address community interests, will be difficult. Elaboration of these concerns follows. Partnering. The success of any long-term research program ultimately depends on an unwavering commitment to repeated measurement of a set of core variables that is not altered over the life of the program. While variables may be added, core variables must never be dropped or the usefulness of the long-term data set will be compromised. In this regard, GEM should not rely on partnering with other scientific programs for collection of any core variables. These programs will invariably be shorter-lived than GEM, and have different goals and foci. Gap analysis. The GEM Draft Plan proposes the identification, and filling, of gaps in our knowledge base (gap analysis) as a critical step for identifying core variables (Figure 3–2). While the committee acknowledges the need for basing decisions on a comprehensive, scientific database of the Gulf of Alaska, filling gaps without hypothesizing how the resulting data specifically relate to the conceptual foundation runs the real risk of expending resources to generate data of little relevance to the program. There will always be information gaps, and as we learn more about the system, more gaps will be identified. Whether or not filling these gaps is necessary can only be determined using a hypothesis-based approach. An example of what may happen using the gap analysis strategy as outlined in the GEM Draft Plan is that measurements of temperature and salinity might be identified as high priority. Regions within Prince Will-

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska BOX 3–2 The Evolution of Major Science Plans Takes Time The creation of all long-term science plans takes time because the process of developing the plan is as important as the details included in the plan. For example, the U.S. portion of the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) had its beginnings in 1984, with the international component starting about three years later (NRC, 1999b). The formation of this effort was not simple. Initially, the U.S. Global Ocean Flux Study (GOFS) was an outgrowth of three separate science community projects that were active in the early 1980s: The National Academies’ Ocean Studies Board was investigating the feasibility of a program that would conduct long-term studies of the biological and chemical dynamics of the ocean on basin-wide and global scales; the NSF Advisory Committee for the Ocean Science Program was developing a long-range plan; and a separate National Academies committee had identified initial priorities for the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme. As the relationships among these activities became clear, and with support from NSF, NASA, ONR, and NOAA, a group of scientists met in 1984 at Woods Hole under the auspices of the National Academies. This generated the basic scientific underpinnings that defined the proposed mission for GOFS and led to the GOFS Scientific Steering Committee, which was formed in 1985. Then, after continued discussion and planning, in 1987 an overview document was published that more fully outlined the program. Between 1986 and 1990, the science community produced nine reports that summarized the recommendations of workshops designed to expand on the general plans, covering topics such as water column processes, benthic processes, continental margins, data management, and modeling. Finally, in 1990 the JGOFS Long Range Science Plan was published, based in part on the recommendations of the workshops. It was 1995 when JGOFS released an Implementation Plan, which gave the status of the JGOFS research and future directions. One strength of a major research program is the ability to draw and direct a significant amount of talent and scientific interest toward a large and often high profile scientific challenge. But to realize that opportunity requires significant advance planning and coordination, and one key element is taking the time necessary to allow wide participation in the program’s definition and evolution. SOURCE: NRC, 1999b.

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska iam Sound such as College Fjord might be identified as locations where no such measurements have been done. Thus, lack of temperature and salinity data in this area would be identified as a knowledge gap and given high priority. If the location was populated with people and marine mammals, this area might become the highest priority for gap analysis. These measurements might be prioritized because they would be less expensive to collect relative to similar measurements taken in a remote region offshore on the continental shelf. However, such sampling within the fjord would not necessarily lead to a better general understanding of marine processes. Community involvement. Communities can play a significant role in generating scientific ideas that are relevant to the goals of the GEM program. The culture and livelihood of local stakeholders often depends on the health of the ecosystem. Their intimate knowledge of the dynamics of the system, based on daily, and often generational, experience (e.g., changes in predator and/or prey abundance in response to climate change or to the introduction of hatchery-reared fish) can significantly broaden the range of research questions and approaches. Incorporation of meaningful community involvement in the generation of scientific questions for a research plan of GEM’s scope and duration would significantly enhance both the quality of the science and its relevance to the community. Further, involved citizens whose efforts and contributions are meaningfully incorporated into the plan are more likely to provide strong support for the program for the future. Finally, the concerns of stakeholders often reflect the concerns of managers. While many of these concerns can best be addressed by the long-term research program, some may reflect specific issues or hypotheses that require more immediate answers. These could be addressed by incorporating short-term studies (3–5 years) into the monitoring program, thereby allowing GEM to respond to current concerns without sacrificing long-term data sets that will prove increasingly useful as they accumulate. A research plan that incorporates meaningful community involvement would serve as a model for other programs grappling with how to address the concerns of resource managers and local communities into their science plans. (The value of community involvement is further discussed in Chapter 5.) Implementation. Finally, how the program will be implemented must be made clear. The roles and responsibilities of each participant and committee must be clearly defined, and the paths of information flow outlined, to demonstrate how the program will operate in practice. The design of long-term programs can take several years (Box 3–2), however, a carefully designed plan is well worth such an investment. Collection of the wrong data, poor program management, or other flaws in the plan could seriously jeopardize GEM’s credibility and erode long-term support for the program.