Ecohydrology is the two-way interactions between hydrological processes and ecologic systems. I prefer to interpret this very broadly to fit as many people and ideas under the ecohydrology circus tent as possible!
What are your undergraduate and graduate degrees in?
BS Geology; BS Environmental Chemistry; Minor Physics
MS Geological Sciences
How did you arrive at working in/thinking about ecohydrology?
I always knew I wanted to be a scientist and study environmental issues, but it was a meandering path to land in the field of ecohydrology. I started my undergraduate studies as a chemistry major, but couldn’t get into a single chemistry class during my first semester and got stuck in classes in physics and geology. Turns out I liked both better than chemistry, so I picked them up as a minor and second major, respectively. In looking for graduate programs, I wanted to combine my background in chemistry and geology, and isotope hydrogeochemistry seemed like a good mixture. However, it wasn’t until my first year of my PhD that I realized I wanted to apply the technical hydrology skills I’d been developing to ecosystem restoration, which was the point at which I settled into ecohydrology.
What do you see as an important emerging area of ecohydrology?
I think the application of ecohydrologic knowledge gained mostly in natural ecosystems to agroecosystems, urban areas, and ecological restoration will only grow over the next 20 years. Much – but not all - of the existing theory may translate well to human-dominated systems, but we will need to develop diverse observational data sets to test our understanding and improve our ability to guide these ecosystems along desirable paths in a world with ever changing drivers.
Do you have a favorite ecohydrology paper? Describe/explain.
My personal favorite is the 1932 USGS report by Walter White, which makes use of watertable fluctuations to estimate groundwater use. He makes an observation of a natural phenomenon, carefully determines its cause, and then finds a way to exploit it to understand and quantify system behavior. This and other very old contributions have a thoroughness that not only conveys the result, but tells the story of the research. My guess is that today’s editors (myself included) would consider 75% of the material extraneous, but those details and detours better convey the reality of the scientific process involved with field-based research and can make for a good read every once in a while.
White, W. N. (1932), A method of estimating ground-water supplies based on discharge by plants and evaporation from soil: Results of investigations in Escalante Valley, Utah, U.S. Geol. Surv. Water Supply Pap., 659-A.
What do you do for fun (apart from ecohydrology)?
My two children are in 5th and 6th grades and my wife and I like to spend time cheering them on at swim meets, soccer games, and hockey tournaments! I myself enjoy running and boxing and love hiking whenever I can manage to find a mountain.