Interpreting past characteristics of damaged water bodies: By examining the plant and animal remains in and the chemistry of aquatic sediments, limnologists have constructed models of damaged aquatic ecosystems in their pristine state (Bradbury and Megard, 1972; Gorham and Sanger, 1976; Davis and Berge, 1980; Gorham and Janssens, 1992). Through this process, limnologists can help design strategies to restore or partially restore the damaged ecosystems.
As the complexity of freshwater problems increases, the role of limnologists in addressing these problems will become more critical. Environmental engineers can design systems for reducing pollutant inputs to a water body; fisheries biologists can determine water quality changes needed to rescue a threatened species of fish; hydrologists can identify water flow patterns influencing the movement of contaminants. However, the full range of actions required to restore a water body can best be identified by interdisciplinary teams of scientists including limnologists with experience in integrating the many factors that influence aquatic ecosystems into a broad picture of the whole system. The limited gains achieved in water quality to date are a result of focusing too narrowly on reducing inputs to lakes, rivers, and wetlands from point sources at the exclusion of considering the many other factors that influence water quality. In order to ensure that academic institutions and other educational venues are up to the task of training the next generation of limnologists, changes will be needed in the infrastructure underlying limnology education and research, as described in this report.
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