The year 2010 marks the 25th anniversary of publication of the Journal of the North American Benthological Society (J-NABS). To highlight the occasion, we solicited 18 contributions, classified into: 1) physical environment, 2) interface of chemistry and biology, 3) biota, and 4) human factor, to review how subdisciplines within the general field of benthology have changed. We identified 7 major themes across the 18 contributions. First, articles dealing with biota were published with the greatest number in J-NABS over the past 25 y, but an increasing number of papers address the human factor and the chemical/biological interface. A 2nd theme was the value of special issues and series, which have resulted in greater visibility and attention for selected topics. Three of the 7 themes could be loosely classified as focusing on emerging or future trends: 3) the role of new technologies and methods in advancing benthic science, 4) the growing importance of multidisciplinary approaches to tackling problems, and 5) convergence by different disciplines on key research topics, such as trait-based indices, spatial heterogeneity, and nonlinear behavior of ecosystems. The 6th theme was the apparent insularity within stream ecology, which could be reduced by increased borrowing from and contributing to general ecological theory. Last, many contributions trumpeted a call to action, calling on practitioners to put benthic science into practice. Directions identified for potentially fruitful future research included new technologies; multidisciplinary research; and emerging stressors, such as pharmaceuticals, climate change, and urban runoff. We conclude by recommending a transition to more solution-based research and by recognizing that the volume of new information being generated creates both opportunities and challenges for the future.
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