Given the complexity of nature and our limited ability to monitor status and trends of species and ecosystems, problems in ecosystem structure and function can easily reach critical states before the scientific community is adequately aware of them. An emerging issue of particular contemporary concern is rapid ecological change. Recent examples in the Great Lakes and vicinity include invasions, such as by dreissenid mussels, Asian carp, and harmful algal blooms that have become more noticeable in the region, especially in shallower bodies of water. Rapid change implies a large change in ecosystem composition over a short time. Awareness of potential emerging problems can help us prevent these problems from reaching that critical state. The Center will devote time and energy to awareness of emerging ecological issues, to assess their likely importance, and to prioritize undertaking research on these issues. The Center will also devote time and energy to considering how new techniques and technology can change the effectiveness of the science we undertake.