Dan Auerbach, PhD

Ecologist Dan Auerbach, who completed his doctoral work at Colorado State University, was selected as Cornell's inaugural NatureNet Fellow 

Shaping the Future of Water Funds

September 23, 2013

Dan Auerbach, PhD

Ecologist Dan Auerbach, who completed his doctoral work at Colorado State University, was selected as Cornell's inaugural NatureNet Fellow. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) established this new program in 2013, in partnership with six of the world’s leading universities — Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale — to create a reservoir of new interdisciplinary science talent that will carry out the new work of conservation.

TNC's profile of Auerbach explores his efforts to balance biodiversity protection and the expectations society has for abundant water supplies:

River Management is Like a Really Committed Marriage

His graduate work in Colorado exposed him to a different kind of complexity: the challenges of balancing biodiversity protection with the expectations society has for abundant water supplies — challenges whose solution requires ongoing communications and compromise.

“There’s tension in the Colorado River Basin between water for irrigated agriculture and cities and energy, on the one hand, and the need to maintain viable habitat for native fish and vegetation and the recreation economy that depends on healthy rivers,” Auerbach says.

“River management there is like a really committed marriage, an ongoing process of continually checking in and updating. Most people who are diverting water to irrigate their fields aren’t interested in harming the ecosystem and spoiling our heritage. So it becomes a question of how we negotiate the balance of their needs with those of all the amazing bugs and fish in the streams.”

Through his work at Colorado State, Auerbach was exposed to processes like the Ecological Limits of Hydrologic Alteraction (ELOHA), one method that The Nature Conservancy is using to structure such negotiations, combining science about river basin hydrology and ecological responses to varying water flow with information about users’ needs... 

Read the rest of Daniel Auerbach's profile.