School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

Autumn 2013 Seminar Series

UW School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences
102 Fishery Sciences (Auditorium)
1122 NE Boat Street
Time: 4:00-5:00pm (social follows seminar)
More info: 206-543-4270;


October 3: Kerry Naish Abstract & Bio The allure of bigger, better, faster: four stories of genomic diversity, selection, and fitness in Pacific salmon. recording

October 10: Neil Banas Abstract & Bio Large zooplankton and their predators in a warming Bering Sea: Ecosystem and life-history modeling approaches. recording

October 17: Sture Hansson Abstract & Bio Competitors for fish - humans, seals and sea birds in the Baltic Sea. recording

October 24: Jacques White Abstract & Bio An Overview of Salmon Ecology and Virtual Tour of Our Complicated Relationship with the King of Fish. recording

October 31: Liz Neeley Abstract & Bio A critical look at social media for science communication recording (1/2) - (2/2)

November 7: Mike Ford Abstract & Bio Causes and consequences of reduced reproductive success of hatchery produced salmon

November 14: Rick Goetz Abstract & Bio Understanding the basis for phenotypic differentiation in lake trout morphotypes

November 21 -- GSS

November 28: (No Seminar - Thanksgiving)

December 5: Nathan Putnam Abstract & Bio New insights into geomagnetic navigation behavior in Pacific salmon

Abstracts and Bios

October 3: Kerry Naish

The allure of bigger, better, faster: four stories of genomic diversity, selection, and fitness in Pacific salmon

One of the oldest problems in evolutionary biology – determining the relationships between genetic variation, the expression of the phenotype and fitness – is especially challenging in wild and outbred populations. Yet describing these relationships is particularly relevant to investigating adaptation and predicting response to natural and human-induced change. Remarkable advances in DNA sequencing technology has led to what has been termed “open access genomics” (bigger, better, faster), and has introduced new ways of investigating the link between genotype and phenotype. Here, I describe our group’s efforts in addressing some key questions in adaptation, conservation and management of Pacific salmon. Specifically, characterization of the genomes of Chinook and coho salmon and cutthroat-rainbow hybrids has given us insight into processes involved in salmonid genomic evolution, following an ancestral whole genome duplication event. Implementation of the molecular tools associated with these studies have allowed us to investigate adaptive evolution in Columbia River Chinook salmon populations, determine the genomic basis of hybrid fitness in impacted cutthroat populations in Montana, explore the results of domestication selection in an aquaculture strain of coho salmon, and test models of hatchery management in Chinook salmon. Taken together, these studies provide a basis for developing informative approaches to understanding evolutionary responses of fitness traits to ongoing change, one of the least understood aspects of the management of fish populations.

Kerry grew up in Zimbabwe, and completed her undergrad at the University of Cape Town, her masters at Rhodes University in South Africa and her PhD at the University of Wales, Swansea in the UK. She completed postdocs at University of Guelph, Canada and the Northwest Fisheries Science Centre, NOAA. She then joined the faculty in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington, where she is currently an Associate Professor. During her time, she has worked on genetic-related issues in a range of aquatic organisms, and has been in some cool (and warm) places as a result.

October 10: Neil Banas

Large zooplankton and their predators in a warming Bering Sea: Ecosystem and life-history modeling approaches

The eastern Bering Sea yields nearly half of the total U.S. fisheries catch. Interannual variability in recruitment of pollock and other key pelagic fisheries has been linked to variability in the abundance of large crustacean zooplankton (LCZs). This talk describes results from three recent, linked model studies--1) a high-resolution projection of ice cover and circulation under future climate, 2) a new planktonic nutrient-cycling model built using rich datasets from the 2007-10 NSF BEST (Bering Ecosystem Study) program, and 3) a novel, trait-based representation of copepod life history--that are beginning to elucidate the mechanisms that link LCZs and their predators to climate on interannual and interdecadal scales.

The planktonic ecosystem model reproduces both micro and macro features of Bering Sea primary production dynamics: on the micro scale, the time evolution of community structure and flux ratios during an intense ice-edge bloom observed in April 2009, and on the macro scale, observed relationships between annual ice-retreat timing and spring bloom timing for the northern and southern middle-outer shelves, 1978-2012. This multidecadal hindcast suggests that total spring-summer primary production is higher in warm years, whereas large copepods have been observed to decline in warm years and increase in cold years: in other words, that observed interannual variability in LCZs occurs in spite of, not because of, spring-summer conditions.

To estimate the sensitivity of LCZs to temperature and prey variability at other times of year, simple, exploratory experiments were performed using a new optimal-life-history model of Calanus glacialis/marshallae, an abundant, large copepod. The model resolves not just biomass by life stage but also stored lipids, which are important to the copepods that store them as a dynamic life-history adaptation and important to fish, bird, and mammal predators as a determinant of prey quality. This model suggests that Calanus spp. success is extremely sensitive to low levels of prey availability in late winter (before the spring bloom), and therefore to the dynamics of ice-associated phytoplankton. The talk will conclude with speculations on the implications for arctic and subarctic food webs more generally, and new model strategies for making regional predictions in high-latitude seas.

Neil Banas is a biophysical oceanographer at the UW Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO) and School of Oceanography. He has studied interactions among circulation, water quality, plankton ecology, and impacts on fisheries since 1998. His current research projects take place in the coastal Pacific Northwest and Salish Sea, Bering Sea, and Mathematical Funland. He teaches environmental humanities through the UW Honors Program and Program on the Comparative History of Ideas (CHID).

October 17: Sture Hansson

Competitors for fish - humans, seals and sea birds in the Baltic Sea

“Silent spring” – most of us associate these two words with detrimental environmental impacts of chemicals, a consequence of which it is an almost “built in reflex” that we need to protect nature. In the Baltic Sea, the impacts of chemicals were serious. Female seals became sterile and the reproduction rate of white tailed eagle dropped. The need to protect nature was obvious – and in many respects we have been tremendously successful! Concentrations of PCB, DDT and dioxins have dropped and animals in the top of the food chain are increasing. There are as many seals in the Baltic now as there were in the 1940s, before the “silent spring”. Another top predator, fish eating cormorants, has started to nest at the Baltic and their population has skyrocketed. Many fishermen and anglers are alarmed over an increased competition for the fish and argue for the culling of seals and cormorants. This is very provocative to many with the “reflex” that nature needs protection and the view that we “should not manipulate nature, but allow it to develop naturally”. Two critical questions in the resulting discussion are: How much fish, and which species of fish, are caught by seals, cormorants and humans? Will this exploitation impact the fish populations? In my seminar I will show that for some fish species, but not all, there is a competition between humans and non-human predators. I will also discuss the possibility that seals and cormorants may constitute a direct threat to eel, a species considered critically endangered.

Sture Hansson received his BSc at Uppsala University and the PhD at Stockholm University, where he now is professor in systems ecology at the Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences. He is a fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry and appointed a James Marsh Professor-at-Large at the University of Vermont. His research is focused on animals at higher trophic levels, primarily in the Baltic Sea.

October 24: Jacques White

An Overview of Salmon Ecology and Virtual Tour of Our Complicated Relationship with the King of Fish

Farm-raised salmon is easy to find in grocery stores and on restaurant menus, creating a sense of plenty for many consumers. And while ocean conditions favorable to salmon in the northeast Pacific Ocean have boosted returns of coastal stocks in recent years, wild Chinook and steelhead are in grave trouble in Puget Sound, and marine survival of these species and Coho have fallen dramatically in the Salish Sea.

On a regional scale according to the National Marine Fisheries Service, 31 out of 52 salmon and steelhead populations in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California are listed as either "threatened," "endangered," or "species of concern." The factors responsible for this decline are complex and far-reaching, including habitat loss due to human activities, changes in climate, overfishing, and outdated hatchery practices. Protecting and restoring Northwest salmon will demand multiple strategies, broad-based community involvement, and a sustained commitment. We all have a part to play.

This presentation will describe the spatial and biological context of the salmon life cycle in the Pacific Northwest, focus on the challenges that we face in sustaining them, and then describe briefly what Long Live the Kings and others are doing about it right now.

Jacques White grew up in Olympia, Washington near Puget Sound and spent most of his childhood either fishing or swimming. He is trained as an Oceanographer and has conducted marine research in the deep sea and along three major U.S. coastlines. Jacques has worked for 17 years on critical conservation issues in the Pacific Northwest and is focused on being a catalyst for improved salmon health and management. Serving as Executive Director of Long Live the Kings, He provides support and guidance for Washington Sea Grant, the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council and the Puget Sound Partnership. He holds a Ph.D. in Marine, Estuarine, and Environmental Sciences from the University of Maryland, an M.S. in Marine Science from Louisiana State University, and a B.S. in Oceanography and a B.A. in Zoology from the University of Washington.

October 31: Liz Neeley

A critical look at social media for science communication

Conversations about social media are too often dominated by opinion, anecdote, and unreliable factoids. We argue doggedly over questions like, "Should every lab be on twitter?" and "Does blogging help or hurt scientific careers?" Definitive answers are appealing, but flawed assumptions can lead scientists and graduate students to misdirect precious hours of effort and become disillusioned. Worse, we might possibly do more harm than good by inadvertently polarizing audiences, reinforcing misinformation, and politicizing research. Given the high stakes of getting it wrong, particularly with extremely limited resources and time, science communicators need to be as rigorous in our approach to engagement and outreach as we are in the science we share. I'll highlight recent research from the science of science communication, network science, and psychology to challenge common assumptions and arguments for (and against) social media.

Liz Neeley is the Assistant Director of Science Outreach and Online Outreach Lead for COMPASS. For the past five years, she has traveled the country designing and leading dozens of communication trainings for faculty, postdocs, and graduate students. Before transitioning to a career in science communication, Liz studied fish behavior at University of Maryland and earned her masters in the evolution and visual systems of tropical reef fishes at Boston University. She then worked with local coral reef conservation efforts in Fiji and Papua New Guinea, as well as on international science policy around the trade in deep-sea corals. Liz is affiliate staff at the University of Washington, where she teaches science communication for graduate students. She is also the founder of ScienceOnline Seattle and co-organizer of ScienceOnline Climate. Find her on twitter @LizNeeley

November 7: Mike Ford

Causes and consequences of reduced reproductive success of hatchery produced salmon

Large-scale hatchery production has been a near ubiquitous management response to declining populations of wild Pacific salmon for over a century. Concerns about the consequences of hatchery production to the genetic diversity and fitness of wild populations have existed for decades, and genetic tools to evaluate the fitness of hatchery fish spawning or rearing in the wild environment have been in use since the 1970s. The past decade, with the advent of cost-effective high-throughput genetic screening, has seen a relative explosion in the number of studies of the genetic fitness of hatchery salmon when they return to spawn in the wild. I will review the results of these studies, focusing particularly on my own work on Wenatchee River Chinook salmon and what we have learned about the biological causes of reduced reproductive success of hatchery fish. These results will also be put into the context of natural population conservation, particularly in light of the results of independent studies examining broad-scale statistical associations between the presence of naturally spawning hatchery fish and wild population performance.

Michael Ford is Director of the Conservation Biology Division at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center. He joined the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in 1995 as a National Research Council Research Associate, where he used molecular genetic data to study local adaptation in Chinook salmon. Subsequently, he has worked a variety projects related to marine conservation. He received his B.S. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University and his Ph.D. in population genetics from Cornell University.

November 14: Rick Goetz

Understanding the basis for phenotypic differentiation in lake trout morphotypes

Abstract Resource polymorphisms are common in fish and especially prevalent within the Salmonidae. In the northern hemisphere, lakes that formed as a result of the last glaciation event contain many examples of sympatric char (Salvelinus) populations that occupy limnetic and benthic habitats and have evolved phenotypes for resources and feeding in these habitats. In North America, there are many lakes including the Laurentian Great Lakes and those in the Canadian Shield that contain lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) with morphotypes specializing in deep and shallow water habitats. Lake Superior is the only Great Lake that still has self-sustaining populations of different lake trout morphotypes including the lean, siscowet, humper, and redfin. The siscowet is common in Lake Superior where they make up most of the lake trout biomass. A short convex snout, high muscular fat content, deep body, and a short, thick caudal peduncle characterize the siscowet. These and other metrics distinguish it from the other principal morphotype, the lean lake trout. The siscowet is a deepwater form found at depths >80 meters, as opposed to lean lake trout that are more restricted to shallower water. Microsatellite analyses indicate that there are genetic differences between lake trout morphotypes in Lake Superior that suggest reproductive separation and a genetic basis for the differences in morphology and physiology. However, since the morphotypes also inhabit very different environments, it is unclear whether genetics or the environment is ultimately responsible for these differences. We have employed several experimental approaches to look at reproductive isolating mechanisms as well as the basis for the differences observed between these morphotypes. To determine the seasonal timing of reproduction we have conducted reproductive life history investigations on siscowet and lean lake trout populations from several locations in Lake Superior. The results of those studies indicate that siscowets have a complex reproductive strategy involving multiple spawning times and spawning omission. To address the basis for phenotypic differences between morphotypes, we have reared siscowet and lean lake trout from fertilized eggs to adults over the past six years under identical environmental conditions. We assessed differences between the hatchery-reared morphotypes using morphological, physiological and molecular measures. The results of the rearing study strongly suggest that most differences observed between wild lean and siscowet lake trout are genetically based and not a result of environmental plasticity. The overall results on siscowets and leans provide some interesting parallels to those displayed by the European arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus), suggesting that common strategies may have evolved in benthic and limnetic char ecotypes.

Rick Goetz is a research physiologist heading the Program on Marine Fish and Shellfish Biology at the Manchester Research Station (NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center). This program studies biological questions pivotal to the sustainability of natural marine fish and shellfish populations and their artificial propagation for aquaculture. Prior to coming to Seattle, he was a professor in the School of Freshwater Sciences (Great Lakes WATER Institute) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2004-2011), Director of the Program on Scientific Aquaculture at the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole, MA (2000-2004) and a Professor in the Biology Department at the University of Notre Dame (1977-2000). In the past he has conducted research on reproduction, growth and innate immunity in fish and more recently has been investigating the basis of phenotypic differentiation and speciation in lake trout.

November 21: GSS

November 28: (No Seminar - Thanksgiving)

December 5: Nathan Putnam

New insights into geomagnetic navigation behavior in Pacific salmon

Numerous marine animals undergo ontogenetic shifts in habitat utilization, maximizing fitness by exploiting distant oceanic regions that are more favorable during a particular life-stage. Unlike many mammalian and avian migrants, juveniles of other taxa rarely have the opportunity to follow or learn from experienced migrants, and their long-distance navigation mechanisms are poorly known. I will present new information on how Pacific salmon use the Earth’s magnetic field to assess where they are and orient their swimming accordingly. Ecological, evolutionary, and management implications will be discussed; including how this behavior might influence colonization success of salmon introduced into the South Pacific, the ability of hatchery reared fish to navigate, and spatiotemporal variation in salmon migratory routes. To estimate the likely consequences of global climate change and the increasingly large scale that humans alter ecosystems there is a growing need to predict long-term trends in animal movements and distribution, particularly for species of commercial and conservation importance. This work suggests that further research in animal navigation is a promising way to predict spatiotemporal variation in migratory routes and animal distributions and should thus be prioritized.

Dr. Nathan Putman is from Birmingham, Alabama and graduated with a B.S. from the University of Alabama in 2006, summa cum laude with a double major in Marine Science and Biology. In 2011 he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Ph.D. in Biology. His dissertation examined the role of magnetic navigation and ocean currents on the migrations of sea turtles. He spent a year as an inaugural “Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow” in North Carolina State University’s Initiative for Biological Complexity where he used ocean circulation models to study the movement ecology of sea turtles. He began working at Oregon State University in July 2012 as a postdoctoral scholar studying magnetic navigation behavior in Pacific salmon and steelhead with Dr. David Noakes.