By Moira Harrington
University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of Limnology James Kitchell, whose work is funded in part by the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, has won an important lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), to be awarded in June.
The annual A. C. Redfield Award is given to recognize and honor long-term achievements in the fields of limnology and oceanography, including research, education and service to the community and society.
The award recognizes Kitchell’s body of work, which the society termed, “field-changing contributions in the areas of fish ecology and fisheries, trophic dynamics and understanding the role of fish in aquatic ecosystems.”
“I am surprised by this recognition and delighted to see the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography encourage approaches that put fishes and fisheries in an ecosystem context,” Kitchell said.
In fact, one of the sessions at the society’s 2010 international summer meeting is “Fish and Fisheries in an Ecosystem Context: A Celebration of the Career of J.F. Kitchell.” The session is predicated on a hallmark of modern ecology – fish are critical structuring components of aquatic ecosystems.
The session description reads, “J.F. Kitchell developed many of the key insights that have enabled fish ecology to become an integrated dimension of aquatic ecosystem ecology. This symposium will highlight state-of-the-art science focused on understanding fish and fisheries ecology in an ecosystem context.”
Wisconsin Sea Grant has funded 23 of Kitchell’s projects since 1974. Currently, he is working on a Sea Grant-funded study to gauge the effect of climate change on sea lamprey and food web interactions in Lake Superior.
Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake, is warming more quickly than other lakes around the globe. These conditions appear to be favoring a longer growth period for sea lamprey, a parasitic creature that attaches to and feeds on the blood of lake trout. The lampreys are therefore able to grow larger and produce a greater number of offspring. This increases the parasitic toll on the trout and can cascade down through the food web.
UW Sea Grant Director Anders W. Andren said, “We are extremely pleased to have been able to support Prof. Kitchell’s work through the years. He has conducted and published critical research on the nature of aquatic environments and fisheries. It has been a groundbreaking approach in that Prof. Kitchell is one of the first to integrate fish in a total ecosystem approach.”
ASLO is a 54-year-old professional membership organization that fosters a robust international scientific community focused on basic and applied research, information sharing, public awareness and stewardship policies. There are nearly 4,000 members from 58 countries.