CERF's History and Articles 

The Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation is a private, not-for-profit, and non-partisan organization. The Federation was created in 1971 when the members of two older, regionally-based estuarine research societies (AERS and NEERS) decided that a national organization was needed to address estuarine and coastal issues more broadly. This page was developed for the 50th anniversary of CERF in 2021. Here we reflect on our rich history as a society, the past 50 years of estuarine and coastal research, and the successes in translating that science into effective management, education, and outreach. With this historical context, we have the opportunity to pivot to looking ahead to the next 50 years of coastal science and management, identifying the grand challenges we face in the coming decades, and looking for solutions to address them.

Two articles focus specifically on the early history of the organization. Alan Young, historian of the New England Estuarine Research Society (NEERS), was particularly helpful in setting the historical perspective. He provided a brief history of the first Estuarine Research Federation (ERF) meeting in 1971 in Plainview, NY, and a copy of the first program (CERF’s UP! 47 (1): 2-4). An abridged version of “The Searchers: A Short History of the Estuarine Research Federation during Its First Ten Years of Existence” by Jerome Williams is in the second issue of Vol. 47. It is an informative and humorous summary of the informal federation of our early years, told as only Jerry could. 

Other articles describe aspects of history of CERF or its members. The second and third issues have a two part history recollections by ERF members of a People to People trip to the People’s Republic of China in 1983. The third issue has Leila Hamdan’s perspective of her upcoming presidential term in the context of past presidents and their contributions to the Federation.

We also invited CERF members to submit manuscripts and documents that captured how past, present, and future hypotheses and research connect to our understanding and management of estuaries. This included a general invitation to the membership and requests to former CERF officers and award winners. These experts were asked simply to choose a topic within their expertise and run with it. They could address the topic any way they wished, including reviews, personal stories, and opinions. We prompted them with a few possible questions: How has the field changed; how have guiding paradigms come and gone; how has technology and methodology changed; what may the future hold? Then we got out of the way.

Issue 1 has the following theme-related articles:

  • Nekton Ecology: Origins, Progress, and Prospects for the Next 50 Years (Dennis Allen)
  •  Early Efforts to Culture Microscopic Oyster Larvae, 1878–1920 (Vic Kennedy)
  • Seagrasses: A Half-Century of Progress and a Look to the Future (Bob Orth, Ken Heck, Jon Lefcheck, and Jessi Jarvis)
  •  Diagnostic Timescales: Old Concepts, New Methods, and the Ageless Power of Simplification (Lisa Lucas and Eric Deleersnijder)

Issue 2 has these:

  • Expanding CERF’s Horizon: Synthesizing Human and Climatic Drivers of Change Along the Freshwater to Marine Continuum (Hans Paerl and Joey Crosswell)
  • The Origins of Biogeochemistry (Tom Bianchi)

Issue 3 has these:

  • Talking Benthic Ecology: The Old and the New, the Non-Changed and the Changed (Cassandra Glaspie and Nancy N. Rabalais)

 We hope you find the articles informative and thought provoking.