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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology
areas of specialization. Particularly to be encouraged are interdisciplinary areas such as wetland ecology, aquatic environmental law, and ground water pollution. In schools of limnology, however, it is essential that a uniform and rigorous undergraduate training be acquired. The weaknesses and wide disparities in undergraduate training place such a burden on graduate programs that corrections are not made well and the quality of graduate training and research is often compromised. Field experience is not only desirable at the undergraduate level, but should be mandatory. The most effective research programs couple in situ analyses with the rigor of controlled experimentation in both the laboratory and the field. In all cases, undergraduate students should be incorporated into research programs wherever possible, both to give them experience and to gain their fresh insights on problems, environmental circumstances, and management.
Graduate instruction and an active research program, preferably at the interdisciplinary ecosystem level, are critical to effective professional instruction. The faculty and associated research scientists provide the essential personnel and milieu for dynamic teaching at all levels. Conversely, the fresh insights and perceptions of students are critical to advances in basic research. The collective integration of teaching and research at all levels, undergraduate through postdoctoral, is the most effective means of increasing fundamental understanding of aquatic ecosystems. Several named schools of limnology should be developed nationally to the minimal standards suggested here, and preferably some or most of them should be in the nonglaciated regions of the United States, where most of the population resides but which are least understood limnologically. Limnology is a profession, and professionally trained practitioners are needed in nearly every county of every state. Several enlightened European countries have professionally trained limnologists in every county assisting with resource decisions. In Sweden, for example, nearly every county has at least one Ph.D.-level limnologist who works with resource planners and management specialists to assist in science-based decisions. Progress in management depends upon acquiring fundamental understanding of aquatic ecosystems. Research advancement and its application are interdependent and self-reinforcing.
Some coordination of limnological programs would be desirable to ensure minimal standards. Standards should be initiated and administered through an independent overseeing group, perhaps coordinated by limnological sections of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, the Ecological Society of America, the North American Benthological Society (containing most stream or river limnologists), the North American