An appreciation of the connections between physical and biological processes affecting the movement and availability of water and/or the functioning of plants.
What are your undergraduate and graduate degrees in?
I received my BS and MS degrees in Geology from Central Michigan University and the University of Texas at El Paso, respectively. I started doing groundwater hydrology work during my MS. My Ph.D. is in Geochemistry from New Mexico Tech, and during my Ph.D. work I started focusing more on vadose zone hydrology and the ecohydrology of Ponderosa Pine forests and Piñon-Juniper woodlands. During these studies, I started working a lot with environmental tracers especially stable isotopes and chloride. I still use various environmental tracer approaches even though I am working more in Arctic and tropical systems.
How did you arrive at working in/thinking about ecohydrology?
Over the years I have had a lot of close interactions with really good ecologists at Los Alamos which I hope rubbed off a bit. Working early on in semiarid systems also emphasized the importance of physical and biological connections. By the time I finished my Ph.D it was really apparent that there was little communication between hydrologists and ecologists and several of us started to work on bridging this gap. In 2000, Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe wrote an editorial in Water Resources Research about the need for an ecohydrological science perspective which greatly spurred interest in doing more interdisciplinary research. In 2002, Brad Wilcox, Osvaldo Sala, and I convened an AGU Chapman conference on Ecohydrology and we had a really great group of prominent “ecologists” and “hydrologists” at the meeting. During the conference it was clear that the two camps had some difficulties in communicating and sometimes had different approaches in terms of how they did their science. The outcome of that meeting was a series of papers in the journal Ecology, but also many ecohydrological collaborations were started that are still going on today. It is exciting that since that time Ecohydrology has really become much more mature and visible as a science. I know I am missing some things here, but there have been two more AGU Chapman ecohydrology conferences, a series of HydroEco conferences in Austria, and the establishment of the journals Ecohydrology, and Ecohydrology and Hydrobiology.
What do you see as an important emerging area of ecohydrology?
Linking biogeochemical cycling (including microbes) with more “traditional” plant-water ecohydrological processes.
Do you have a favorite ecohydrology paper? Describe/explain.
My favorite ecohydrology paper is Zimmerman et al. (1968). It is a somewhat overlooked paper, but is a great piece of experimental science and was the first one to show lack of fractionation of stable isotopes (d18O and d2H) by plants during root water uptake. It really enabled the use of stable isotopes as ecohydrological tracers. The paper is not hard to find and you can always get it through the IAEA Water Resources Programme website.
Zimmermann, U., D. Ehhalt, and K.O. Munnich. 1968. Soil-water movement and evapotranspiration: Changes in the isotopic composition of the water. p. 567–584. In Isotopes in Hydrology, Proc. Symp., Vienna. March 1967. IAEA, Vienna.
What do you do for fun (apart from ecohydrology)?
Ski in winter, flyfish in summer, and brew ciders and beer in between.