Global Health Tuesday: Exploring What Makes Healthy Streams

A woman holds a fish in her hand and adds a marker.

Emma Lundberg marks a brook trout in Marinette County, Wisconsin, with visible implant elastomer tags to assess trout population dynamics using mark-recapture methods and to monitor movement. (Photo by Matthew Mitro, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.)

Healthy streams are essential to the identity, economy and landscape of Wisconsin’s southwestern Driftless region and northeastern Marinette County. In her Global Health Tuesday seminar on January 28, Emma Lundberg, a doctoral student in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, discusses her work on trout seasonal migration and freshwater management programs, and how these two aspects of her research influence stream health and river restoration practices.

The seminar, hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute (GHI), begins at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, January 28, in Room 1010 at the Medical Sciences Center. It is free and open to the public.

The monthly seminar series hosts researchers and practitioners from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and across the world. Speakers showcase the complexity of global health challenges and the many kinds of expertise needed to address them. By sharing their experiences with the campus and Madison communities, these guests provide insights into global health, encourage conversation, and help connect colleagues locally and globally.

Lundberg uses a combination of physical stream assessments, social science interviews and community workshops to understand what makes a healthy stream and how human-constructed arguments influence restoration projects. Her latest project, supported by GHI, included a series of interviews about what a healthy Wisconsin stream is and general questions about local practices used to improve stream health and restore systems. GHI also supported ecological fieldwork to scientifically assess the health of streams in both Marinette County and the Driftless region of Wisconsin.

A Ph.D. student in Environment and Resources through the Nelson Institute, Lundberg says she is accountable to the field of inland fisheries, and more broadly, conflicts over the management of natural resources. She blends her training and expertise from both fisheries and social sciences to understand why certain species, management policies and practices, and human preferences become controversial. Using social knowledge and critical humanities, she investigates how management practices and social values/perspectives influence the health of aquatic ecosystems.

Lundberg calls herself an interdisciplinary scientist. “I use critical theory to put biological and social understandings of the world into conversation,” she says.

Lundberg connects theories and methods from science and technology studies with social science research methods, including semi-structured interviews, participant observation and the Q-method that models human subjectivity and conflict. Her scientific methods include monitoring fish movements, conducting habitat surveys, monitoring stream conditions and sampling insects. She reviews historic management documents to understand how historic social contexts have influenced current ecological conditions.

By Ann Grauvogl/ December 9, 2018