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About SFS

What is SFS?


The Society for Freshwater Science (SFS) is an international scientific organization whose purpose is to promote further understanding of freshwater ecosystems (rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, and estuaries) and ecosystems at the interface between aquatic and terrestrial habitats (wetlands, bogs, fens, riparian forests, and grasslands). The society fosters the exchange of scientific information among the membership, and with other professional societies, resource managers, policymakers, educators, and the public. Society members study genetics to community structure of freshwater organisms, freshwater ecosystem function, physical processes that affect freshwaters, and linkages between freshwater ecosystems and surrounding landscapes. Applied aspects of their science include habitat and water quality assessment, conservation, fisheries and invasive species management, integrated water resource management, and restoration.

Current Society

Today SFS enjoys its status as a premier international organization of aquatic scientists interested in a wide range of various scientific endeavors including environmental impact assessments; ecology and taxonomy of microbes, algae, invertebrates, and fish; carbon and nutrient dynamics; watershed dynamics; hydrology and geomorphology; conservation and restoration. SFS encourages interdisciplinary exchange through its meetings and journal publications. SFS membership is approaching 1800 scientists, a large percentage of which are students. Although the majority of members hail from North America, SFS membership is comprised of individuals from around the globe. The membership also crosses many employment sectors: academia, private consulting, and federal, state, provincial, and municipal governments. SFS commitments to interdisciplinary, international, and inter-institutional exchange and mentorship of young scientists have positioned SFS as a leader in integrative aquatic science.

History of the Society

The Society was founded as the Midwest Benthological Society by 13 charter members at Havana, Illinois, in the spring of 1953. The first annual meetings attracted the Midwest’s best benthic scientists, which led to rapid increases in membership and a diversification within the society. Later renamed the North American Benthological Society, and most recently the Society for Freshwater Science, the society has expanded from our early and ongoing specialization in stream insect ecology to include a range of disciplinary interests from genes to landscapes. SFS has also expanded from its core focus on lotic freshwater ecosystems to benthic habitats in wetlands, estuaries, and oceans, and to the riparian and shorelands.

2020 Strategic Plan - Vision, Core Values, and Goals

View the 2020 Strategic Plan

VISION: The Society for Freshwater Science (SFS) will be a vibrant, inclusive, and diverse community dedicated to advancing, applying and translating science for the health and vitality of freshwater ecosystems and the services they provide. 


  • Promoting excellence in freshwater science: SFS is dedicated to advancing freshwater science to understand fundamental properties of aquatic ecosystems, promoting interaction across the disciplinary breadth of freshwater science, and applying our science to improve freshwater policy and management.
  • Sustaining a supportive, cooperative, and open scientific community: SFS is rooted in a welcoming and collaborative community committed to maintaining and growing that community through its publications, annual meetings, mentoring and training programs and associated activities.
  • Advancing diversity, inclusivity and equity in freshwater science: SFS recognizes the inherent value of diversity, inclusivity, and equity in freshwater science. SFS is dedicated to becoming a more diverse and equitable society through inclusion, where all scientists are welcomed and their voices heard, thus promoting diverse perspectives and representation in freshwater science.
  • Developing and supporting freshwater scientists: SFS is dedicated to the development of students and early career freshwater scientists and practitioners, and to supporting the continued development of all freshwater scientists throughout their careers.

1. Elevate the Society by maintaining and improving the annual meeting, the flagship publication Freshwater Science, and the communication tools used for in-reach and outreach.
2. Translate and communicate freshwater science to policy makers, managers, and the general public.
3. Improve equity, inclusivity, representation and a sense of belonging at SFS meetings, welcoming all freshwater scientists.
4. Increase the diversity of the community of practitioners of freshwater science.
5. Increase membership, including regional and international participation, and promote the field of freshwater science globally.
6. Support the professional development of all members across all career stages through specific programs and actions.
7. Increase efforts to train the next generation of freshwater scientists by supporting graduate and undergraduate students and early career scientists.
8. Continually seek new and innovative ways to improve communication among and services to our members.