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USU Ecologist Appointed to National Climate Assessment Research Team

Thursday, Feb. 07, 2013

USU's Chuck Hawkins

Chuck Hawkins, professor and head of USU's Department of Watershed Sciences, has been appointed to a technical team of the National Climate Assessment’s U.S. Global Change Research Program.


As a member of the USGCRP's Freshwater Ecosystems Technical Team, Hawkins will work with colleagues to identify key indicators of freshwater ecosystem health and synthesize published information for policymakers.

Utah State University aquatic ecologist Charles “Chuck” Hawkins has been named to the Freshwater Ecosystems Indicators Technical Team of the National Climate Assessment’s U.S. Global Change Research Program.

Hawkins, professor and head of USU’s Department of Watershed Sciences, will work with team members from the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey and academia to identify indicators of freshwater ecosystem health as part of the research program’s ongoing scientific assessments of global climate change impacts in the United States.

During the past 20 years, the USGCRP, in which 13 federal departments and agencies participate, has submitted public assessment reports to the White House and Congress at four-year intervals as mandated by passage of the Global Change Research Act of 1990. The Third National Climate Assessment Report will be released this year (2013).

“Our team’s charge is to determine the set of measures most useful in assessing the health of the nation’s freshwater ecosystems,” Hawkins says. “Field measurements can be costly, so our challenge is to judiciously select a set of standard, informative measures that can be applied consistently in all regions.”

In addition to selecting indicators to assess freshwater ecosystem health, the research team will synthesize previously published information to provide policymakers with concise information about climate impacts, vulnerabilities and management recommendations.

“Freshwater ecosystems are only one component of the nationwide assessments,” he says. “Other teams within the research program, made up of more than 200 researchers, are assigned to other types of ecosystems and such topics as commerce, agriculture and public health.”

Hawkins, who serves as director of the USU-based Western Center for Monitoring and Assessment of Freshwater Ecosystems, was among scientists who developed a standardized protocol for the EPA’s Wadeable Streams Assessment in 2004 and 2005. In 2008, he was selected as lead editor for the Journal of the North American Benthological Society’s special issue on the assessment of the nation’s stream ecosystems.

In 2009, Hawkins and USU colleagues David Tarboton and Jiming Jim received an EPA grant to assess the effects of climate change on stream and river biodiversity.

Related links:

Contact: Charles “Chuck” Hawkins, 435-797-2459,

Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517,

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