Preprint Essay Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Rethinking Discretization to Advance Limnology in a Rapidly Changing World

Version 1 : Received: 25 October 2019 / Approved: 27 October 2019 / Online: 27 October 2019 (15:56:58 CET)

How to cite: Kraemer, B. Rethinking Discretization to Advance Limnology in a Rapidly Changing World. Preprints 2019, 2019100312. Kraemer, B. Rethinking Discretization to Advance Limnology in a Rapidly Changing World. Preprints 2019, 2019100312.


Limnologists often adhere to a discretized view of waterbodies—they classify them, divide them into zones, promote discrete management targets, and use research tools, experimental designs, and statistical analyses focused on discretization. This approach to limnology has profoundly benefited the way we understand, manage, and communicate about waterbodies. But the research questions and the research tools in limnology are changing rapidly with consequences for the relevance of our current discretization schemes. Here, I examine how and why we discretize and argue that selectively rethinking the extent to which we must discretize gives us an exceptional chance to advance limnology in new ways.


classification; management; big data; computing; statistics; trophic state; zonation


Computer Science and Mathematics, Mathematics

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 15 November 2019
Commenter: Stephanie Hampton
The commenter has declared there is no conflict of interests.
Comment: Thanks for sharing this piece, Ben! I thought Alex Latzka had some good points on Twitter about how classifications systems are useful in management. In addition there were a couple points I shared with you at GLEON that I will jot down here: 1) Near the beginning I thought you were going to say more to argue for watershed studies (vs lake studies) - this would be consistent with the way some of my hydrologist friends have expressed their views of lakes. 2) Though I think you do acknowledge that classification has its uses, one aspect of classification that could be highlighted more is that it is frequently thought to capture inflection points in non-linear relationships/processes. 3) I also was glad to see you discuss the Cottingham et al. paper that describes the situations in which treating experimental variables as continuous can be much more useful than slicing a variable into categories.
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