The Societas Internationalis Limnologiae Theoreticae et Applicatae – as the society was originally named – was founded in 1922 by the German ecologist and father of limnology August Thienemann, making it the oldest limnological society in the world. For a long time, SIL was one of the most important platforms for scientific exchange within limnology across German, European and international borders. Almost 100 years later it is time for a strategic repositioning. As the new president, Thomas Mehner wants to push forward the change his predecessor Yves Prairie, Professor of Limnology at the Université du Québec à Montréal, has already initiated: “Since nowadays science has completely different possibilities for networking, we have to – or better yet: we have the chance to – rethink the traditional structures within the International Society of Limnology and develop SIL into a practice-relevant specialist society with clear objectives and research priorities. With our combined international expertise we can address environmentally and socially relevant problems worldwide – and also position ourselves in environmental policy.”
In the future, SIL members from developing and emerging countries shall be much better connected with researchers from industrial nations in order to address local challenges in research and water protection on a global scale. In addition, young limnologists are to be increasingly addressed by the programmatic orientation – their urge for research that makes a difference should then once again infect the ‘old hands’.
SIL and its members have the best prerequisites for this reorientation: The current 1300 members come from 70 countries and the disciplines of biology, chemistry, physics, geology or mathematics. Every two years they meet for six days to combine theory and practice and identify new research needs. In 2022, the SIL Congress will take place in Berlin and will also be an anniversary celebration. SIL and its new president hope that the programmatic renewal will already be visible for the 100th anniversary: “I would like to achieve that the international community of researchers in SIL develops a scientifically founded position on the most important questions of ecology and management of water bodies – and also represents these in public. This is the only way for SIL to fully fulfil its founding mandate.”
About Thomas Mehner
Dr. Thomas Mehner is an expert in limnology and aquatic ecology. He heads the Food Web Ecology and Fish Communities Research Group at IGB and is a lecturer in fish ecology at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. For the past three years he has been Deputy Director (a. i.) of IGB. SIL, which he joined 25 years ago, was his first specialist society – with a lasting impression.