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Biologists Appreciate New Twists to an Old Gathering

Gallery hop-goers enjoy artwork at the Duluth art gallery, Waters of Superior.

Fish seem to swim above the heads of gallery hop-goers at Waters of Superior.

Minnesota Sea Grant co-hosted the 17th annual meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center on the shores of Lake Superior from June 28 to July 2. The meeting attracted 1,137 attendees, including over 300 students, making it the largest gathering of the Society. Forty-four foreign countries were represented as well as 47 U.S. states. As participants arrived, the northeastern winds off of Lake Superior surprised those dressed for summer, but the lake calmed and gorgeous weather returned for the remainder of the meeting.

The meeting's theme, Conservation of Land-Water Interactions, was the focus of seven symposia that emphasized marine, freshwater, and wetland ecosystems. Each of the four morning plenary lectures also focused attention on these interactions. Michael Dombeck, former Chief of the U.S. Forest Service and now at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, opened the meeting by discussing the many environmental challenges of the 21st century. On the second morning, David Schindler of the University of Alberta - Edmonton enlightened attendees on the rapid changes that are occurring in Canada's boreal forests. The following morning, Joy Zedler of the University of Wisconsin - Madison articulated the tremendous needs and opportunities associated with wetland restoration. The last plenary lecture, given by Jane Lubchenco of Oregon State University (and past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Ecological Society of America), laid the foundation for marine conservation.

Reporters from Maryland and Minnesota listen carefully as Professor David Tilman describes global warming studies conducted at the university of Minnesota's Cedar Creek Natural History Area in central Minnesota.

Reporters from Maryland and Minnesota listen carefully as Professor David Tilman describes global warming studies conducted at the university of Minnesota's Cedar Creek Natural History Area in central Minnesota.

Sea Grant organized some new twists to the meeting format. Beyond the traditional conference field trips to places like Isle Royale National Park and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, reporters were given a tour of the University of Minnesota's Cedar Creek Natural History Area in central Minnesota, known as the "birthplace of modern conservation ecology." Several reporters gained first-hand knowledge of the research projects conducted there from renowned ecologist Professor David Tilman. Sea Grant also organized a media briefing the first day of the meeting, which generated reporter interest.

In a more artistic vein, we worked with eight local galleries to organize a gallery hop for meeting participants and the public. This was the first time the art galleries had participated in an event tied to a local conference, and a first for a Society meeting. The artwork on display was tied to the meeting's theme and was designed to make the general public aware of the meeting's goals. The artwork was kept on display, along with placards promoting conservation facts, for a month or more at many of the galleries.

"Meeting participants really appreciated this introduction to the area," said Carl Richards, Minnesota Sea Grant director. "The galleries were very accommodating by keeping their doors open later than usual for the hop."

Sea Grant staff co-chaired the local planning committee and program committee, and chaired the meeting's publicity committee. Additional co-hosts were the Natural Resources Research Institute, and Continuing Education (both from the University of Minnesota Duluth) and the Conservation Biology Graduate Program of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Additional financial sponsors of the meeting included the Society for Conservation Biology, the U.S. National Science Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Sea Grant College Program, Blandin Paper, Large Lakes Observatory of the University of Minnesota, and The Wilderness Society.

This article contains information from the August Society for Conservation Biology Newsletter.


By Sea Grant Staff
November 2003

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