In 2007, aquatic ecosystem scientists everywhere were saddened by the passing of two titans of limnology: Dr. Richard A. Vollenweider (January 20, Burlington) and Dr. John (Jack) R. Vallentyne (June 16, Hamilton). It is fitting that the Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management Society (AEHMS) publish this joint memorial issue. Both scientists made vanguard contributions to resolving the challenge of eutrophication in freshwaters and to establishing the ecosystem approach to management. Jack published The Algal Bowl: Lakes and Man (1974), effectively promoting the rationale and campaign for phosphorus abatement and neutralizing vested opposition. Richard developed his famous phosphorus loading models with their links to primary production and algal biomass, allowing abatement targets to be established. Both worked at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters (CCIW) in Burlington, Ontario. Indeed, it was Jack, along with Wally Johnson, who lured Richard to the Great Lakes to lead the first lake-wide biological investigations of Lakes Ontario and Erie with the Fisheries Research Board (FRB) Detachment. Both exerted major influence on succeeding generations of aquatic scientists. Both were awarded high accolades: Vollenweider the Tyler Environmental Prize (shared with Werner Stumm) and the Naumann-Thienemann Medal (SIL); Vallentyne the A.C. Redfield Lifetime Achievement Award (ASLO) and the Rachel Carson Award (SETC). Both were strong supporters of AEHMS from its inception.
While there are many scientific parallels, there are also social and cultural contrasts. Vollenweider came from the traditions of European limnology with a Ph.D. from Zurich, Switzerland; while Vallentyne was nurtured by North American limnology, beginning with his Ph.D. supervisor, G. E. Hutchinson. Vollenweider was a quietly-spoken, private person who cultivated a global network of collaborators, while Vallentyne was outgoing and gregarious as evidenced by his many public awareness activities: notably his “Johnny Biosphere” and “Professor Trout” personas beloved by a generation of children worldwide.
Vollenweider was an intellectual scientist with an intense commitment to honesty and self-criticism. His standing as a leading limnologist was firmly established by three connected works of science: the 1968 report for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on the scientific basis of eutrophication in freshwaters; his probabilistic approach to the classification of trophic state in lakes; and the phosphorus models linking input loads and flushing to the steady state concentrations in lakes.
Vallentyne was a people's scientist, increasingly focused on institutions and education as his career developed. His standing was strongly founded in his participation in the creation of the influential Experimental Lakes Area (ELA); his contribution to the revision of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement that made the “ecosystem approach” central to efforts to restore and then conserve the health of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem; and his books The Algal Bowl (mentioned above, updated and reissued by Schindler and Vallentyne, 2008); and, latterly, Tragedy in Mouse Utopia: an ecological commentary on Human Utopia (2006), which provided a doom-laden foreboding of the consequences to the Earth and humans of the runaway growth of population, consumption, and technology.
This memorial issue includes an impressive set of personal remembrance essays by a number of the collaborators, colleagues, and friends of Richard and Jack, along with several papers on subjects linked to their lives’ work as limnologists. It is an honour to be prefacing this memorial recognition of these two titans.
Charles K. Minns
Scientist Emeritus Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Fisheries and Oceans Canada Burlington, Ontario, Canada