More than 150 scientists from 10 nations attended the International Delta Roundtable Meeting held November 28-30 in Lafayette, Louisiana, at the Cajundome Convention Center and the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wetlands Research Center. Nations represented were the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Egypt, Russia, China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, with 22 invited speakers and 55 technical-working-group presenters. (For a complete list of topics, visit URL http://dl.cr.usgs.gov/dragon/.) Among the speakers were Tim Petty, deputy assistant secretary, Department of the Interior; Susan Haseltine, USGS associate director for biology; Larry Schweiger, president, National Wildlife Federation; Michael Reuter, the Nature Conservancy; Jeb Barzen, director of field ecology, the International Crane Foundation; Richard Lowerre, president, Caddo Lake Institute; and Karen Siderelis, USGS chief information officer. The meeting provided a forum for integrating the work of scientists from many different disciplines who are addressing complex issues related to the effective and sustainable management of deltas and large rivers.
A major goal of the meeting, according to meeting organizer Gregory Smith, USGS National Wetlands Research Center director, was to create a community of scientists worldwide who will share information that promotes sound ecological forecasting to sustain the world's deltaic systems.
Smith explained, "The reason for sharing information and learning from the work of others is that rivers and deltas have geologic, hydrologic, and biological processes which form extremely dynamic environments, and these environments are significantly altered by human development and major coastal storms, such as Hurricane Katrina."
The National Wetlands Research Center hosted the meeting. The center demonstrated a Web-enabled system, the Delta Research And Global Observation Network (DRAGON), which is being constructed to integrate data on deltas and rivers from throughout the world. (Visit the DRAGON Web site for more information.)
A highlight of the meeting was an evening activity called "Stories of the Deltas," which featured speakers telling personal stories of a delta or river that had influenced their lives, thereby integrating traditional and practical knowledge with science.
A smaller group of international and U.S. scientists participated in a field trip after the meeting. In Louisiana, they toured the devastation from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in New Orleans and at the delta of Mississippi River. In Florida they visited the USGS Florida Integrated Science Center office in St. Petersburg, Big Cypress National Preserve, Key Largo, and the Everglades.
Assisting the center in planning technical sessions and organizing the field trip were other USGS centers, including the Columbia Environmental Research Center in Missouri, the Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and the Florida Integrated Science Center in St. Petersburg.
Partners and sponsors include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the International Crane Foundation, the Caddo Lake Institute, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and HDR Engineering, Inc.
Follow-up meetings to the International Delta Roundtable are being organized in Ethiopia and Hong Kong.
in this issue:
International Delta Roundtable Meeting