How to strengthen Interdisciplinarity in Ecohydraulics?
Outcomes from ISE 2018
Casas-Mulet R1,2,§, Vanzo D3, Adeva-Bustos A4, Macnaughton C J5, Stewardson M J2,
Pasternack G B6 ,Enders E C7, Dyer F8
1Aquatic Systems Biology Unit, School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan, Technical University of
Munich, 85354 Freising, Germany
2Department of Infrastructure Engineering, School of Engineering, The University of Melbourne,
3010 Parkville, Victoria, Australia
3Surface Waters - Research and Management, Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and
Technology, Kastanienbaum, Switzerland
4Department of Energy Systems, SINTEF Energy Research, 7034 Trondheim, Norway
5Independent Researcher (Aquatic biology), Montreal, Canada
6Departmetn of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California, Davis, United States
7Freshwater Institute, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
8Centre for Applied Water Science, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia
§corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
interdisciplinarity, research community, scientific development, transdisciplinarity, research
education and training, early career researchers
Interdisciplinary approaches are needed to tackle complex environmental issues as freshwater
ecosystems face unprecedented pressures globally. The emerging Ecohydraulics field of research
should take steps towards developing true interdisciplinarity and embrace the transformation
required as the world keeps changing in front of our eyes. This paper aims to contribute to the
discussion on interdisciplinarity in Ecohydraulics and to shape its growth. This contribution builds upon
previous research that identified the challenges and opportunities for early career researchers (ECRs)
in Ecohydraulics and takes a step further on identifying key actions, actors, and implementation
strategies that can strengthen interdisciplinarity. Based on an online questionnaire and a workshop
involving over 150 early and established careers, we present a list of 20 prioritised actions that will
help engage the research community towards specific goals and will result in increased
interdisciplinary outcomes. While ECRs have taken the lead on creating this roadmap, its
implementation should be a joint responsibility of both ECRs, established career scientists, groups,
and institutions within Ecohydraulics. The list of identified actions and assigned responsibility should,
therefore, be considered a conversation starter among the Ecohydraulics community on how to
strengthen interdisciplinarity. This means that a continued revision of the here stated approaches will
be required to in the future, as the field of research and its community progresses. With this
contribution, we resume a critical reflection on where the Ecohydraulics field of research and
community stands today and where efforts need to be invested in the long-term to consolidate its
Interdisciplinary approaches in science are essential to understanding the complex challenges brought
by current global environmental changes. This is why interdisciplinary research has been well
recognised by funding and government agencies for decades (e.g. Engineering Committee on Science,
2004; European Research Advisory Board, 2008). However, fostering effective interdisciplinarity faces
many barriers, starting with a lack of common understanding of the factors that make
interdisciplinarity work (Huutoniemi et al., 2010; Kumar et al., 2019; Schummer, 2004) which hinders
its implementation. Despite having a central role in science policy debates and funding schemes,
interdisciplinary research still appears to be poorly rewarded in terms of recognition and career-
building (Bina, 2017). For individuals from different disciplines to work together and maximise the
benefits for the scientific community, these barriers first have to be resolved (Freeth and Caniglia,
2020; Hicks et al., 2010). In this context, research teams in the scientific community need to
continuously improve their interdisciplinary toolkit, drawing on hands-on experiences (e.g. learn to
collaborate while collaborating, Freeth and Caniglia, 2020), and investing in identifying inclusive,
bottom-up or peer-driven strategies for effective interdisciplinarity.
As an interdisciplinary field of research, Ecohydraulics faces the same pressures and challenges of
interdisciplinarity. Indeed, anthropogenic pressures threatening freshwater ecosystems worldwide
(Döll and Zhang, 2010; Vörösmarty et al., 2010), and the increasing awareness of their importance for
global conservation efforts (Geist, 2011; Reid et al., 2019; Strayer and Dudgeon, 2010) have led to an
emergence of integrative fields of research such as Ecohydraulics. Ecohydraulics combines core
disciplines of hydrology, fluvial geomorphology, engineering, and ecology (Maddock et al., 2013a) to
understand physical and ecological processes in rivers at a range of scales (Gosselin et al., 2019;
Pasternack, 2019). While disciplines within Ecohydraulics interact at different multi-, inter- and
transdisciplinary levels (see Casas-Mulet et al., 2016), here we adopt the more inclusive definition of
interdisciplinarity by Hicks et al. (2010): ‘the production of research which crosses disciplinary
boundaries’, and is considered to cover all three levels of disciplinary interaction. As such,
interdisciplinarity in Ecohydraulics is what gives it the potential to play a crucial role in the future
management of freshwater ecosystems (Maddock et al., 2013c, 2013b; Nestler et al., 2016; Rice et al.,
A crucial achievement in promoting interdisciplinarity has undoubtedly been the foundation of the
Journal of Ecohydraulics (TJoE, Kemp and Katopodis, 2016), which highlights Ecohydraulics research,
as well as providing a platform for the integration of non-engineering disciplines (e.g. Hannah et al.,
2007; Lancaster, 2018). Despite the advances, Ecohydraulics has not yet reached the necessary level
of integration for true interdisciplinarity. A study on the last twenty years of Ecohydraulics conference
proceedings suggests a potential stagnation phase in interdisciplinary research (Casas-Mulet et al.,
2016). The study found only a small detectable increase in interdisciplinarity activity between
neighbouring research areas (e.g. physical habitat and flow responses), and no growth among more
distant topics (e.g. hydraulic modelling and biotic responses, or social aspects) during the investigated
period. In contrast, the need to solve water management problems has engaged Ecohydraulics
research with end-users from its inception and has a been a key driver promoting the development of
Ecohydraulics as a distinct field of applied research (Nestler et al., 2008).
There is a need for a wider acceptance of Ecohydraulics as a whole discipline with both a basic science
foundation (Nestler et al., 2016; Pasternack, 2019) and a critical impact on society that emerges when
addressing research questions beyond traditional subject boundaries and scales. Stronger
interdisciplinary collaboration and cooperation among researchers, end-users, and managers are
considered necessary to achieve this goal (Dollar et al., 2007; Rice et al., 2010). A bi-directional
stimulation is needed. On the one hand, a relevant challenge appears to be the implementation of
interdisciplinary research into actions on the ground (Casas-Mulet et al., 2016), both at the scientific
and societal levels. On the other hand, practitioners can play a central role in steering Ecohydraulics
fundamental research and should challenge scientists to improve and further basic science (Palmer et
In order to contribute to society on local and global scales, Ecohydraulics needs to support the new
generations of freshwater scientists (Wilkes et al., 2016). Early career researchers (ECRs) face
additional challenges as they need to build their careers in a way that crosses traditional disciplinary
boundaries, integrating physical, ecological, and social values in Ecohydraulics. To date, the efforts of
the Early Career on Ecohydraulics Network (ECoENet) have been to promote inclusivity and open-
mindedness among emerging researchers and encourage their participation in the scientific
community. However, more work is needed to engage emerging researchers in the consolidation
process of interdisciplinarity in Ecohydraulics.
By taking both an ECR and established academic perspective, this paper aims to contribute to the
discussion on interdisciplinarity in Ecohydraulics and to shape its growth both among the community
and the field of research. This contribution builds upon previous research that collected the challenges
and opportunities for ECRs in Ecohydraulics (Wilkes et al., 2016). From this, we identified key actions,
actors, implementation strategies and approaches that can strengthen interdisciplinarity in
Ecohydraulics. Based on an online questionnaire, our investigation first re-examined and updated
Wilkes et al. (2016) findings. We then held a follow-up workshop involving ECRs and established
careers in Ecohydraulics at a pre-conference event for the 12th International Symposium on
Ecohydraulics (ISE) in Tokyo, 2018. This paper resumes a critical reflection on where the Ecohydraulics
community stands today and where efforts need to be invested in the long-term to consolidate its
2 Pre-workshop questionnaire
2.1 Questions and targeted respondents
To assess the current status of the challenges, opportunities, and future directions in Ecohydraulics
identified during the first Early Career on Ecohydraulics Network (ECoENet) workshop in 2016 (Wilkes
et al., 2016), we created an anonymous online questionnaire that revisited them. The questionnaire
was composed of 14 questions divided into four sections: (i) respondents’ professional experience, (ii)
challenges and opportunities, (iii) future directions, and (iv) respondents’ personal background. Four
multiple-choice questions focused on the professional experience of the respondents, including
defining their career stage, background training, and identifying macro-topics of their core research.
Five questions addressed the set of challenges and opportunities in Ecohydraulics by evaluating the
respondent’s level of agreement or disagreement with specific questions. One question addressed the
future directions in Ecohydraulics by asking respondents to identify potential actions that could help
advance the discipline. The last four questions helped portray the personal background of the
respondents: current geographical location, gender, age, and whether the respondents had children
(see full questionnaire in Appendix 1).
The online questionnaire was distributed on 27th July 2018 through several Ecohydraulics community-
related email lists, soliciting participation from approximately 300 people. Respondents were given a
week to return questionnaires to ensure that results were analysed before the ISE 2018 workshop in
Tokyo, which was held in August 2018. A total of 103 participants responded to the questionnaire. The
highest response rate came from male participants (61%), between 25 and 45 years old (63%), with a
current research position in Europe (61%), either in a temporary research position or as a PhD
candidate (50%). Most respondents were in engineering (39%), followed by the biological sciences
(29%, including ecology). The current area of research was a split between physical habitat, flow, fish
responses, hydrology, and hydraulic modelling (67%; Figure 1).
2.2 Summary of challenges, opportunities, and future directions
Results from the questionnaire confirmed that the challenges, opportunities, and future directions in
Ecohydraulics identified by Wilkes et al. (2016) are still relevant for ECRs. Insights from respondents
went beyond the early career community and emphasised how interdisciplinarity in Ecohydraulics was
viewed as both a challenge, opportunity and a future direction. While challenges and opportunities
were well defined and further discussed by the respondents; future directions were more difficult to
characterise, particularly regarding specific actions needed to strengthen interdisciplinarity within
A preliminary analysis of the responses identified four main focus areas, which were later used to
structure the discussions at the subsequent workshop. They included: Community Building (CB),
Scientific Advancement (SA), Links to the Real World (LRW), and Education and Training (ET). Funding
was considered an intersecting topic across the four focus areas, given that several recurrent
challenges and opportunities centred around funding sources, and it was also deemed necessary to
achieving future endeavours (Figure 2).
Newly identified challenges for Community Building (CB) emphasised persistent disciplinary
separatism between ‘eco’ and ‘hydraulics’, the lack of a collective community vision for the future,
and the absence of a common platform for networking. Respondents identified conferences as places
for community growth and building a collective vision, ultimately creating an opportunity for
interdisciplinary research in Ecohydraulics internationally (Figure 2).
Challenges listed for Scientific Advancement (SA) included: the lack of basic Ecohydraulics concepts
and paradigms, the difficulty scaling-up integrative research for a complex global context, and the
difficulties of developing interdisciplinary concepts without compromising the quality of the research.
By promoting interdisciplinary collaborations, respondents agreed that knowledge in Ecohydraulics
might extend beyond current ‘eco’ and ‘hydraulics’ core topics.
Harnessing technological advances and promoting scientific applications to overcome technological
shortcomings were identified as both a new challenge and solution that relate to the focus area Links
to Real World (LRW). In terms of Education and Training (ET), the trade-off between single-focus
specialised training vs all-in-one interdisciplinary degrees was seen as a key challenge that, in turn, can
impact both professional and personal development. The participants perceived the Ecohydraulics
field of research as an excellent framework to allow specialised education in a core discipline while
maintaining broader connections among them (Figure 2).
3 ISE 2018 workshop
3.1 Organisation and participation
The workshop “Interdisciplinarity in Ecohydraulics: an early career perspective” was held on August
19-20, 2018, prior to the 12th International Symposium on Ecohydraulics in Tokyo in the form of a pre-
conference event for ECRs and involving established academics. The workshop set out to identify key
actions, actors, implementation strategies, and approaches that may help strengthen
interdisciplinarity in Ecohydraulics. The challenges and opportunities summarised in the online
questionnaire (Section 2.2) provided the framework for structuring the workshop.
The workshop registered 63 participants with affiliations in Asia (38%), Europe (37%), Oceania (13%),
and North America (13%). Just above half of those registered were male (52%), PhD candidates or
temporary researchers (51%), and with a background in engineering (58%, Figure 1).
3.2 Workshop sessions
The workshop was structured in four sessions: keynote introduction and discussion sessions during
the first day and a synthesis session and prioritisation exercise on the second day. The scope, the
methods, and the outcomes for each session are briefly summarised below.
Four keynote speakers were invited to offer a personal perspective of their career experiences as they
relate to interdisciplinarity in Ecohydraulics and engage ECRs to provide their own insights into the
field of research at the short Q&A discussion session. Different criteria were adopted in selecting the
speakers: (i) ensure equal gender representation, (ii) representative career stages, and (iii) different
disciplinary backgrounds, including engineering, ecology, and social sciences. Each presenter
contributed their story and experiences of interdisciplinary training and associated challenges. Overall,
presentations highlighted a variety of career paths and life experiences that made each
interdisciplinarity story unique. The diversity of pathways underscores the challenge and opportunity
of mindfully creating interdisciplinary educational programs and cross-national engagement activities
that give students practice in interdisciplinary engagement.
The discussion session aimed to identify and structure a series of actions, aligned with the four focus
areas that emerged from the questionnaire: Community Building (CB), Scientific Advancement (SA),
Links to the Real World (LRW), and Education and Training (ET) (Section 2.2). Participants were also
asked to assess whether the future directions identified in the questionnaire were appropriate.
Round-table discussions of seven groups were conducted in a manner consistent with the Open Space
Technology principles (Owen, 2008), with keynotes acting as discussion facilitators and reporters. In
particular, discussion groups were neither assigned a specific focus area nor held to a specific time
schedule by the facilitators. To help focus the discussion into a series of actions, we provided a
template, where groups were asked to allocate responsibility (Who are the actors?) and identify an
approach (What are the implementation strategies and approaches?) to realise identified actions.
Answers from each group were later discussed in a plenary session at the end of day one. A summary
list of 20 actions was defined, organised by focus areas, and linked to the identified key future
directions (Figure 2).
The synthesis session opened day two of the workshop, and it was organised as a plenary session.
Three synthesis keynote speakers with long-standing roles in the Ecohydraulics community led the
opening of the meeting. The synthesis speakers had helped facilitate the previous discussion session
and had been asked to synthesise the outcomes for the final prioritisation exercise.
Their summary statement emphasised the need for all career stages to engage with the broader
scientific community and specific forums, as well as create opportunities to interact with fellow early
career and established scientists. The synthesis session also verified and consolidated the list of the
20 actions created the day prior and added additional viewpoints from workshop participants.
In the final session of the workshop, each participant was asked to vote for their top three key actions
from the final consolidated list. The outcomes of the exercise illustrated that although actions focused
on Community Building (CB) were prioritised, all other focus areas were deemed similarly important
to help increase interdisciplinarity in Ecohydraulics (Figure 3). In terms of specific key actions,
promoting one-on-one ECRs-mentor connections (CB), encouraging academic-industry internships
(LRW), and the creation of an Ecohydraulics glossary of terms (SA) were the three most voted actions.
They were closely followed by actions, such as workshops on disciplinary comparisons (SA), ECoENet’s
outreach (CB), optimal interdisciplinary training approaches (ET), and the addition of hands-on
summer courses in standard University degrees (sUDs), also under the ET focus area(Figure 3).
In regard to the actors, the responsibility for implementing these actions generally lied within ECRs
and, in some cases, ECoENet. However, established academics, University departments, and the
Ecohydraulics Leadership Team (ELT) were also held responsible for enacting some of the key actions
(Table 1). To achieve the listed actions, approaches like targeted workshops, interdisciplinary short
courses, and creating new materials (e.g. newsletters, mentorship platforms, and a consolidated
Ecohydraulics community mailing list etc.) were proposed.
Concerning the implementation approaches, the ECoENet platform and network were considered to
be the best Community Building approach for promoting one-on-one connections between ECRs and
mentors. By creating a database of both active mentors and ECRs members, mentors and mentees
can be matched based on research areas of interest. Academic-industry internships were thought to
be the purview of University departments and ELTs, linking fundamental research to Real World (LRW)
contexts by establishing an online registry of contacts. In order to support Scientific Advancement
(SA), ECoENet, ECRs, and the ELT were thought to be collectively responsible for creating an
Ecohydraulics glossary and linkages among core disciplines. With respect to Education and Training
(ET), developing optimal interdisciplinary training approaches and guidelines were deemed the most
important, despite appearing only in the 6th position from the prioritisation exercise. Specific
suggestions included: the development of interdisciplinary approaches to academic courses and
summer schools by established academics with a teaching focus, and the use and dissemination of
interdisciplinary textbooks that cover varied core disciplines within Ecohydraulics (Table 1).
4 Representativeness of the study
Both the pre-workshop questionnaire and the workshop had high participation relative to the total
number of attendants in the 2018 ISE symposium. This fact suggests that the issues raised in both
events were likely important to ECRs and the broader Ecohydraulics community. While the crossover
between questionnaire and workshop participants was low, the demographics in terms of career stage
and background were aligned, which validated the use of the workshop as a continuation of the
questionnaire. The low crossover was likely caused by the geographical location of ISE 2018,
promoting high participation from Asia. In contrast, the questionnaire sought participants from a
consolidated email list issued for ISE 2014 and ISE 2016 symposiums, with high involvement of Europe
and Oceania. Although we observed a close gender balance in both exercises, the low participation of
scientists with social sciences backgrounds and the lack of participation from Latin American and
African countries are still unresolved issues preventing a broader representation within Ecohydraulics
(Wilkes et al., 2016), and could be considered a potential limitation of this study.
Following the reassessment of key challenges, opportunities, and future directions in Ecohydraulics
via the online questionnaire, we identified four key focus areas (Community Building, Scientific
Advancement, Links to the Real World, and Education and Training), where support is needed to
strengthen interdisciplinarity within Ecohydraulics. All four focus areas and associated actions
emerged in a prioritisation exercise during the ISE 2018 workshop, suggesting that efforts are required
across the board to reach interdisciplinarity within Ecohydraulics. The list of prioritised actions
considered various approaches to engage the community towards specific goals and should help
improve long-term interdisciplinarity in Ecohydraulics. Below, we discuss the top prioritised actions in
the context of each of the four focus areas (in ascending order of perceived priority).
Education and Training (ET)
Actions in Education and Training were not at the top of the priority list for the majority of participants
in the workshop, suggesting that despite ECRs may have felt it an important gap in Ecohydraulics (see
Wilkes et al., 2016), they are unempowered to drive the change. Interdisciplinary collaborations have
the greatest chance of success when ECRs are able to cultivate their own discipline based on academic
interests, but also to look beyond it. The so-called T-shaped researchers have ideally developed
breadth and depth during their disciplinary training (see Brown et al., 2016). However, ECRs and
students in Ecohydraulics are faced with a lack of interdisciplinary academic departments devoted to
the field of research, as well as specialised courses bridging diverse departments. Such institutional
barriers force students to choose among various courses offered across several disciplines and
departments vs mastering the fundamentals within a specific discipline. For ECRs, such barriers mean
that interdisciplinary career development and collaboration are not readily available. As a result,
students and ECRs are prevented from cultivating both breadth and depth in their chosen field of
research (e.g. jack of all trades, master of none).
Another major challenge centres around educators expected to design and deliver true
interdisciplinary academic courses (action ET1, priority #6). Without consolidated Ecohydraulics
textbooks (action ET3, priority #13), compounded by the logistical and institutional constraints of
having an interdisciplinary course, it is no wonder that Ecohydraulics has yet to reach the levels of a
recognised academic discipline. The development of truly interdisciplinary training approaches and
guidelines can only be achieved as a collaboration among several established academics from varied
backgrounds, representing the core disciplines in Ecohydraulics, and the full support of University
departments interested to contribute to the emerging field of research. Despite some efforts made to
integrate Ecohydraulics at the departmental and University level structures, academic departments
need to initiate interdisciplinarity through the support of specific actions.
Links to the Real World (LRW)
Ecohydraulics research must convert fundamental and applied research findings into practical tools
that can be easily used and applied by practitioners and governmental agencies. Engaging policy and
industry in the design of novel techniques and methods to further the Ecohydraulics toolbox should
meaningfully contribute to the future success of Ecohydraulics as an established interdisciplinary field
of research and positively impact society.
Increased engagement with industry from early ECRs via academic-industry internships (action LRW1,
priority #2) has the potential to bridge Ecohydraulics research with the real-world outcomes and
implementation of tools. Institutions affiliated with university departments must take the lead to
foster stronger relationships with industry and governmental agencies and support ECRs’ career
development. This investment should positively feedback to the field of research in Ecohydraulics and
society in general.
Scientific Advancement (SA)
Despite the many important advances in Ecohydraulics applications, there has not been a parallel
evolution in the research theory independent of the core disciplines. Such applications have produced
largely empirical research and models, often with limited applicability beyond the conditions in which
they were developed. A significant challenge is to find ways to advance Ecohydraulics theory and
develop research programs to test these theories without retreating to the traditional reductionist
approaches of the parent disciplines. This can be achieved by developing a collective future vision as
a research community and a set of shared concepts and paradigms (Nestler et al., 2016).
The creation of an Ecohydraulics glossary of terms (action SA1, priority #3) was seen as a good starting
point to ensure that all the disciplines related to Ecohydraulics have a common vocabulary and engage
the diverse disciplines within Ecohydraulics in a conversation on the use of terms. This would be a first
step towards consolidating shared concepts and paradigms, and undertaking integrative
interdisciplinary research without compromising the advancement of each individual discipline.
Another action suggested the organisation of workshops to brainstorm on Ecohydraulics
fundamentals (action SA5, priority #18). The low priority given to this action perhaps reflects that the
basic common language is not yet been developed, and ECRs are not ready to engage in such
While a renewed focus on advancing Ecohydraulics theory is an opportunity, the Ecohydraulics
community will have to overcome significant funding challenges. Interdisciplinary research requires
collaborations among research groups and across traditional disciplines. Collaborative projects require
substantial resources to support long-term experimental programs that achieve significant advances
because of the complex interdisciplinary nature of Ecohydraulics. Establishing such programs requires
substantial funding from different stakeholders, which is often lacking in a sector where funding
agencies are looking for quick solutions to pressing local management concerns, reflecting a
disconnect between Ecohydraulics research goals set out by academics and funding agencies
expectations. The value of investing in long-term theoretical Ecohydraulics research in the grand
scheme of improving aquatic ecosystems management needs to be better articulated to national and
international funding agencies.
Community Building (CB)
The Ecohydraulics community is mostly united and engaged through the biennial ISE symposium
(Casas-Mulet et al., 2016). While it initially started as an informal support group of researchers, it has
now grown into a mindful, strategic organisation of substantial size, influence, and recognition. This
leads to the logical question: is Ecohydraulics at the point where it merits institutional recognition? An
institutionalisation of Ecohydraulics would mean the development of a shared mission for both the
field of research and the community. The establishment of formal organisational structures within
Ecohydraulics is critical to engaging people, allows the community to grow, and empowers community
volunteers to support more specific actions. While the Ecohydraulics community can learn from
written experiences of scientific institutionalisation (e.g. Gaëta et al., 2017), its implementation still
poses a challenge, and its success will depend on current and future ELTs.
Engaging researchers from all career stages is crucial to building community. Scientific leaders at the
peak of their careers should lead the establishment of such formal structures, as they are in the
position to reflect on the overall vision of Ecohydraulics and are most likely training a critical mass of
students and postdoctoral researchers on interdisciplinary research projects. The participation of ECRs
in such formal structures is key. Still, their involvement must reflect their need for building their
repertoire of skills with different basic and applied research challenges and establishing their careers
in centres of excellence. The development of a mentorship program (action CB1, priority #1) has the
potential to engage individuals at different career stages in Ecohydraulics by contributing to the field
of research through collaboration mentorship, advice, and networking among peers, linking disciplines
together and ultimately driving Ecohydraulics towards a more formalised field of research.
Another key action to help with CB is the creation of an inclusive Research Forum (action CB3, priority
#9), including individuals from diverse geographic locations, disciplinary backgrounds and career
stages. Current and developing online platforms (e.g. Ecohydraulics website, ECoENet social media
platforms) are a good start, however, the Ecohydraulics community and ELT at large should be
responsible for actively engaging researchers from diverse core disciplines and nurturing a
constructive dialogue among them. Inspiring students, ECRs, and established research leaders to
collectively build the Ecohydraulics community, should also foster growth through learning and
creative exchanges, facilitating the evolution of the discipline beyond the CB actions currently
According to Schummer (2004), there are two components to the establishment of a field of
interdisciplinary research: (i) the knowledge base (concepts and beliefs, methods, values), and (ii) the
social aspects (ways in which the body of knowledge is communicated, shared and taught). It appears
that the majority of actions identified in this paper are on the social aspects relevant to Ecohydraulics
(Community Building, Links to the Real World, and Education and Training) vs only one on the
knowledge base (Scientific Advancement). Despite a clear lack of shared concepts and paradigms in
Ecohydraulics, the dominant engineering perspective provides a well-established link with research
applications, providing the foundation for a consensus on the knowledge base. However, a community
vision designed to bring researchers rooted in different disciplines together (Schummer, 2004)
remains the key challenge. Ecohydraulics should, thus, invest most of their efforts and resources into
developing the above-mentioned social aspects. The question remains whether new institutional
structures within Ecohydraulics will enable more integration between the disparate disciplines,
particularly those with the social sciences (Porter and Rafols, 2009), where the gap is more apparent.
This study presents a collective effort amongst established and early career scientists with different
disciplinary backgrounds to identify, discuss, and prioritise specific actions to support the
development of true interdisciplinarity within Ecohydraulics. A total of 20 actions involving a range of
actors, implementation strategies and approaches within Ecohydraulics were identified depicting a
network of players, from individuals at different career stages, to institutions, working together across
all focus areas towards achieving true interdisciplinarity. Outcomes from the exercise helped evaluate
the current state of the Ecohydraulics community and provided a roadmap for long-term investment
of efforts and resources to consolidate interdisciplinarity. The list of prioritised actions in this paper
should, therefore, be considered as mechanisms to engage the community towards specific goals
leading to increased interdisciplinarity. While ECRs have taken the lead to create this roadmap, its
implementation is the joint responsibility of more established career scientists, ECRs, and institutions.
This paper is a conversation starter for all of those within the Ecohydraulics community. A continued
revision of the implementation strategies and approaches to strengthen interdisciplinarity will be
needed to tackle global issues in freshwater systems in the future.
The questionnaire and the workshop were designed and conducted by the Early Career on
Ecohydraulics Network (ECoENet). The workshop also received logistic support by the ISE Local
Organising Committee. ECoENet and the authors would like to especially thank Dr Shinji Fukuda for
his incredible help from beginning to end. We would also like to thank Kurita Water and
Environment Foundation (http://www.kwef.or.jp/index.html) for kindly providing financial support
to the event. The authors are grateful to key long-standing Ecohydraulics members Atle Harby,
Thomas Hardy, and Francisco Martinez-Capel, who supported the workshop and contributed to its
success with their insights. Last but not least, we thank all questionnaire respondents and workshop
participants for openly sharing their views on Ecohydraulics and early-stage research.
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.
Roser Casas-Mulet http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7139-8859
Davide Vanzo http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2033-9197
Ana Adeva-Bustos https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7655-784X
Camille Macnaughton https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9523-4947
Michael Stewardson https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1356-0472
Gregory Pasternack https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1977-4175
Eva Enders http://orcid.org/0000-0003-2103-0359
Fiona Dyer https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4658-9247
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Table 1. Summary of workshop-identified actions to improve interdisciplinarity in Ecohydraulics, including the responsibility (Actor) of initiating the action and the
implementation strategy and approach to undertaking the action.
Figure 1. Key professional and personal aspects of the questionnaire’s respondents and workshop
participants including geographical distribution (top left), background by training (top right), career
stage (bottom left), and current research focus based on the macrotopics defined in Casas-Mulet et
al. 2016* (bottom right, note this information was only provided by the questionnaire’s
respondents). All values are in percentages.
Figure 2. Reviewed challenges and opportunities in Ecohydraulics, and future directions linked to
suggested actions. All organised by four identified priority areas “Community building”, “Scientific
advancement”, “Links to the real world” and “Education and training”. Note that * indicates items
identified in Wilkes et al. 2016.
Figure 3. Outcomes of the prioritisation exercise illustrating the percentage of votes received by
focus areas (left) and by specific actions (right).