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Candidates for Non-Academic Representative

David Walters



I received a B.A. degree in Anthropology (1991), an M.S. degree in Conservation Ecology (1997), and a Ph.D. in Ecology (2002) from The University of Georgia. I am a freshwater ecologist with broad training in community and ecosystem ecology and in human impacts on aquatic and riparian ecosystems. I served as a Research Ecologist for six years in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Exposure Research Laboratory before joining the U.S. Geological Survey in 2008. I currently serve as the Ecology Branch Chief and as a Research Ecologist at the Columbia Environmental Research Center in Columbia, MO. The goal of my research is to understand how aquatic and riparian ecosystems are affected by human disturbances such as land use and climate change, habitat fragmentation, invasive species, and pollution and to aid in the development of tools and methods for managers that help to conserve species, communities, and ecosystem functions. I address research questions by integrating field studies, laboratory experiments, modeling, and meta-analysis while working at multiple levels of biological organization including genes, organisms, populations, communities, and whole ecosystems. I have been a member of the Society of Freshwater Science since 2000, most recently serving as the Co-Program Chair for the 2018 meeting in Detroit.

What do you think are the current and emerging challenges facing the Society for Freshwater Science?

Freshwaters are globally imperiled ecosystems. Thus, an ongoing issue for our Society is to continue to provide the cutting-edge science necessary to understand these systems, to conserve their diversity and functions, and to preserve the ecosystem services they provide to other wildlife and humans. These efforts will necessarily be interdisciplinary, and SFS needs to continue to host sessions at our annual meeting which attract those scientists who would normally present their findings at other meetings such as ESA, AGU, GSA, ASLO, and SETAC. As Hynes noted in his classic 1975 paper “The stream and its valley”, freshwater ecologists have long depended on reaching out to other disciplines to better characterize our own systems of interest, and maintaining this tradition is critical in this era of Global Change.

As a society, we must strive to maintain and grow our community of scientists, managers, policy makers, and educators. I served on the membership committee recently and our retrospective analysis of membership history identified some troubling trends. We need to reach out to the next generation of students and early career professionals to emphasize the critical role Freshwater Science can play not only in their chosen fields but also in the conservation of these systems that we cherish. As others have noted, we need to focus not only on the size of the membership, but on expanding the diversity of our Society. I use diversity in the broadest sense here to describe not only racial, gender, and cultural diversity but also disciplinary and international diversity. The Society has placed a strong emphasis on this over the last several years, and, as a long-time member, I am witness to the progress we are making in this endeavor. We need to maintain that progress and continue to expand on these efforts.