More than 1200 limnologists gathered in Dublin, Ireland for the XXVIIth SIL congress from 9 – 14th August 1998. I think everyone agreed that it was a most enjoyable week whose arrangements worked smoothly almost all of the time. The organising committee, led by Dr. Declan Murray, are to be warmly congratulated. They even managed to arrange excellent weather; after many weeks of rain we were greeted on arrival by warm sunshine which continued for most of the week. This was particularly significant because more than half the delegates stayed in student residences on the campus of University College Dublin and had to walk to and fro, in the open, to meals as well as congress sessions.
The opening ceremony was held on Sunday evening, followed by a short concert of Irish folk dancing and song. The Monday began with the 1st General Assembly of members of SIL during which the President, Prof. Carolyn Burns, welcomed delegates and the General Secretary – Treasurer, Prof. R G Wetzel, presented a report of SIL activities during the triennium 1995-98. This was followed by the Baldi Memorial lecture given by Prof. Charles Goldman of the University of California, Davis who spoke on “Four decades of change in two subalpine lakes”. Professor Goldman described the historical sequence of changes in the catchments of Lake Tahoe and Castle Lake. Both lakes have been monitored almost continuously since 1959. Castle Lake, which has been little disturbed, was the first site at which molybdenum deficiency was demonstrated, indicating competition between the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. In contrast, there have been enormous changes in the Lake Tahoe basin and in the lake biota. Prof. Goldman showed the value of long term monitoring which can demonstrate the effects of these changes and discussed the need for more attention to be given to holistic lake management plans in the future.
The Baldi lecture was followed by an invited keynote lecture given by Grant Lawrence, a lawyer who is Director of the Environmental Quality and Resources Division of the European Commission. He spoke about the current reform of the European Union water policy which, unlike its predecessor, will cover both surface and ground waters (both quality and quantity), will include management of river basins (including transnational management where applicable), include an agreed date by which “good quality”, judged on an ecological basis, should be reached and promote realistic charges for water use so that users recognise that water is no longer a free, unlimited resource. It came as no surprise to learn that some governments are reluctant to implement this latter concept in full at the present time. Also included in the directive is the idea that the public must be informed and involved in the whole process of water management. Mr. Lawrence stressed that all water legislation must be based on good science and that scientists must work with those preparing the legislation.
The theme of the congress, Water of Life, was reflected not only in the Irish name for whiskey and the free Guiness generously provided by one of the sponsors, but more seriously, in the central message of the President’s address and several other speakers. The theme of integrated water management was repeated by many who stressed the need for better management of the world’s water resources, at both regional and international levels. Huge numbers of people are still without adequate water supplies and the need to conserve (in all aspects of that term) water, is increasingly urgent both for the sake of people and other species all over the world. This will never be properly achieved until river catchments are managed in a truly integrated way with co-operation between all those who use the land as well as those who manage the water. The obvious need to make this message heard inspired the proposal that SIL should prepare a brochure outlining the problem and making clear that the resources of SIL members and their expertise are available to decision makers and planners. Preparation of this document is now under way.
On Tuesday and Thursday mornings up to 3 parallel sessions, each of two “plenary” lectures, were held before the delegates ordinary oral presentations began. Up to 12 parallel sessions of oral presentations were held on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Posters were displayed in two batches, at the beginning and end of the week, and their authors briefly presented their work to chairpersons and others in late afternoon sessions. For many, serious work continued late into the evening with meetings of less formal workshops and specialist groups. Eventually they too joined the crowd in the student club bar where live music was arranged.
On Wednesday everybody went on one of the 25 different mid-congress excursions to visit places of limnological interest all over Ireland.
First General Assembly of the Association was held on Monday 10 August at 8.30 in O’Reilly Hall of University College Dublin.
The Secretary General-Treasurer reported that:
1. The total membership of the Association now stands at about 3,500 of which 2,900 are ordinary members. Approximately 450 members have been removed from the database for the non-payment of dues.
2. There is concern about the delay in publication of the proceedings of the last congress and the Executive Board, with the organisers of the Dublin Congress have made arrangements to reduce the publication time of the proceedings of this congress. To this end a number of procedural changes have been made:
- All papers, both oral and poster, will be reviewed by session chairpersons.
- Twenty associate editors have been recruited to act as second reviewers.
- To expedite the editing of language and to prepare uniform layout, Mayo Editorial of Ireland (who prepared many of the documents for the congress) have been contracted to process the electronic manuscripts and prepare camera-ready copy for the printers.
- The volumes of the Proceedings will be printed as soon as sufficient papers are ready, rather than delaying until all the traditional sections are complete. The internal arrangement of each volume will thus appear more like other journals and each volume will be indexed separately instead of the only index appearing in the final volume.
- With the next call for dues, all members will be asked whether they wish to receive the Proceedings on paper, on CD-Rom or both. There will be a modest additional charge ($10-20 US depending on whether 1 or 2 CDs are required) for those who want both hard copy and electronic. Eventually it is assumed that all publication will be entirely electronic and only a few hard copies produced for those who still need them.
3. One Communications (Mitteilungen) has been published during the triennium – No. 25, Cycling of Reduced Gases in the Hydrosphere, edited by D.D. Adams, D.P. Seitzinger and P.M. Crill.
4. The first volume of Limnology in Developing Countries was published during the triennium and distributed to all members. Two more volumes are in preparation. These volumes contain information about inland waters and on-going work much of which is unavailable elsewhere.
The August Thienemann – Einar Naumann medals were awarded to:
Noel Hynes, Canada, for establishing lotic limnology
Macej Gliwicz, Poland, for his work on zooplankton
Bill Lewis, U.S.A., for his work on tropical limnology
Unfortunately, the first two awardees were unable to be present at the Congress so the medals were received by Bob Wetzel for Noel Hynes and Anna Hillbricht-Ilkowska for Macej Gliwcz, to be delivered after the Congress.
The Second General Assembly was held on Friday (14th) evening. RESOLUTIONS PASSED AT THE SECOND GENERAL ASSEMBLY after approval by the International Committee at its 2nd meeting:
- To increase annual dues of S.I.L. from 55 to 65 Swiss Francs. This is necessary because: (a) the reserves of the Association are declining while activities are increasing, (b) the payment of dues by credit card is of great convenience to many members but the Association is charged a fee for each transaction, so all should share this cost.
- To institute a “family membership” for which one member plus a spouse or partner will pay 1.5 times the standard dues in return for full privileges for both but only one set of publications. This proposal will need to be ratified at the next congress because it requires a change to the statutes of the Association.
- To prepare a brochure which will set out the urgency of the need to manage water resources in a sustainable way and how the expertise embodied by SIL could assist. This will be 8 pages in full colour which can be made available to managers, decision-makers and agencies throughout the world. It will be possible to print the text in several languages and it will be added to the SIL web site.
- To prepare a document stating the aims and objectives of SIL for the future. A draft of this document will be widely circulated for comment and ideas from members before being finalised.
- To support the committee on Limnology in Developing & Tropical Countries in their endeavours to provide assistance with training and the development of limnological expertise in developing and tropical countries.
- To support the Irish limnologists in their efforts to compile an inventory of inland water flora and fauna for Ireland.
- To establish a Working Group of SIL on Exotic Invasive Species. The Working Group would establish a database of information and expertise on invasive species which would be made available on the internet.
- To accept the invitation presented by Canadian members to hold the 30th SIL Congress in Montréal, Quebec in August 2007. It was also proposed that, in an effort to involve more younger members in the business of the Association, a two triennium limit should be placed on committee service, in such a way that regular turnover is achieved.
At the closing ceremony prizes were awarded for the best oral and poster presentations made during the congress by research students. The certificates were presented by Dr. Julian Reynolds.
Best Student Oral Presentation:
Christian Griebler, Institute of Limnology, Austrian Academy of Science, “Microbial DMSO reduction: a new parameter for microbial activity measurements in freshwater systems”.
Klaus Plath, Max-Planck-Institut für Limnologie, Germany, “Adaptive feeding behaviour in Daphnia”.
Best student poster presentation:
Boris Schønfeldt, Biologisk Institut, Odense University, Denmark, “Only little phosphorus leached when flooding a lowland field”.
Dirk Wübben, Universität Oldenburg, Germany, “UV-sensitivity in freshwater and marine zooplankton tested in a sunshine simulator”.
50 years on
It was brought to the attention of delegates that we had amongst us three members who were present at the congress held in 1948 and a small presentation was made to:
Prof. Petur Jonasson
Dr. Rosemary Lowe-McConnell
E.D. Le Cren