Western Fisheries Science News, October 2015 | Issue 3.10

Release Date:

Western Fisheries Research Center Hosts Visit from U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene

Secretary Jewell and Congresswoman DelBene tour WFRC laboratories

Secretary Jewell and Congresswoman DelBene tour WFRC laboratories and meet researchers with WFRC Director Jill Rolland.  Photo courtesy Ryan McClymont, USGS.

On October 15, 2015, U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell traveled to the site of the SR530/Oso landslide in Washington State to discuss the heightened risk of natural disasters caused by climate change and mitigation to this and other threats. Jewell, along with U.S. Representative (WA 1st l district) Suzan DelBene, spent the morning at the site of the SR530/Oso landslide and then traveled to Western Fisheries Research Center (WFRC) in Seattle for the afternoon. While visiting the WFRC, Jewell and DelBene participated in a panel discussion on climate change and natural disasters, toured the WFRC, and visited with scientists.

During the panel discussion, Jewell and DelBene engaged with scientists from USGS, and members from the Stillaguamish Tribe, Washington State’s Department of Natural Resources, and the Sierra Club. The discussion focused on how to use science to better prepare for and prevent disasters in the future. Rich Ferrero, Regional Director for the Northwest Region, moderated the discussion on topics of fire, floods, earthquakes, landslides, and sea level rise. Jewell and DelBene were interested to hear about current science and how it can help with preparedness, as well as discuss important science needs and tools. The use of high-resolution LIDAR imaging was one reoccurring topic, as well as the use of science to predict and monitor changes as they occur. The USGS currently has scientists in the region working on topics such as water, fire science, earthquake hazards, climate change, and threats to fish and aquatic sciences.

Following the panel discussion, WFRC Director Jill Rolland, led a tour of the center and laboratories—state of the art facilities for conducting experiments that explore factors that influence fish biology, fish behavior, fish genetics, disease resistance, infection processes, pathogen virulence, and transmission of pathogens—and talked about research at WFRC. Jewell and DelBene engaged in discussions along the tour with scientists working on habitat restoration, aquatic animal health, and immune response. The tour was extended, as Jewell and DelBene had many interests and questions about our research. “Congresswoman DelBene was particularly interested in the research being conducted in comparative immunology, specifically the work of estrogen-like compounds and their impacts on the fish immune system,” said Rolland, “The Congresswoman had worked in the field of immunology prior to her career in the high tech industry.”

It was an honor to have Jewell and DelBene visit WFRC. The visit provided a great opportunity to bring scientists, leadership, and stakeholders together to focus on natural disaster preparedness. It also gave us a chance to address challenges and highlight some of the great science already being done. We were happy to host the visit, meet our special guests, and share our science!

Newsletter Author - Rachel Reagan



USGS Scientist Provides Talk about Elwha River Research at NatureBridge Event:  On October 23, 2015, WFRC research ecologist Jeff Duda spoke to the national and regional board of directors to NatureBridge and 150 guests at the Seattle Aquarium. NatureBridge is a non-profit that offers nature education programs at campuses across the country, including Olympic National Park where their program includes the science discoveries associated with dam removal, river restoration, and salmon recolonization in the Elwha River.

USGS Shares Fisheries Science in Local School:  On October 7, 2015, Roz Lehner and Lynn “Chip” Applegate visited Meridian Park Elementary (Shoreline, WA) to give scientific presentations on salmon passage to 75 first graders and participate in a field trip to Hiram A. Chittenden Locks. Lehner and Applegate introduced students to fisheries science and discussed scientific professions.

USGS Scientist Participates in Panel Discussion at Oregon Lakes Association Conference-Klamath Falls:  On October 2-4, 2015, WFRC scientist Dave Hewitt participated in the 2015 Oregon Lakes Association’s annual conference in Klamath Falls, OR. The theme of the conference titled “Klamath Lake Perspectives: Lesson for Oregon’s Lakes” focused on the Klamath watershed and other lake-related topics such as harmful algal blooms, invasive species, and lake management. Hewitt participated on a panel discussion centered on the Klamath Basin resource management issues, along with Dennis Lynch (Associate Regional Director for the USGS NW Region), Chrysten Lambert (Trout Unlimited), and Scott White (local Watermaster for Oregon Water Resources Department). Hewitt provided an overview of fish issues (listed and sensitive species, limiting factors, potential for recovery) and possible solutions to current challenges.

USGS Western Fisheries Research Center Participates in Feds Feeds Families Campaign:  The WFRC-Columbia River Research Laboratory (CRRL) recently participated in the 2015 Feds Feed Families national campaign. Launched in 2009 as part of President Obama’s United We Serve campaign, Feds Feed Families was designed to help food banks and pantries stay stocked during summer months when they traditionally see a decrease in donations and an increase in need. The CRRL located in Cook, Washington collected a total of 148.5 pounds of food and will be donating to the Stevenson Food bank serving Skamania County in Washington State. 

In the News

Research by USGS scientists was mentioned in various news media outlets, including the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Bulletin, and the Sportsman’s Spotlight about a strategy to reduce mortality in juvenile fish at Dworshak National Fish Hatchery. A USGS news release on this topic was distributed on September 15, 2015. USGS researcher Rachel Breyta was also interview by Tom Walker of Hatchery International.

On October 15, WFRC scientist Paul Hershberger was contacted by reporter, Chris Dunagan, from the Kitsap Sun and Puget Sound Institute. Dunagan was composing a story about diseases of fishes in the Salish Sea. Mr. Dunagan conducted his interview at Marrowstone on October 29, 2015. 


New Publication Describes Rapid Return of Marine-Derived Nutrients Following Dam Removal: Dam removal is increasingly being recognized as a viable river restoration action. Although the main beneficiaries of restored connectivity are often migratory fish populations, little is known regarding recovery of other parts of the freshwater foodweb, particularly terrestrial components. In a recent issue of Biological Conservation, USGS scientist Jeff Duda and colleagues from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Ohio State University, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, and NOAA Fisheries measured stable isotopes in key components to the freshwater food web: salmon, freshwater macroinvertebrates and a river specialist bird, American dipper. Scientists found that marine nutrients returned to both aquatic and terrestrial systems within a year. Findings demonstrate the almost immediate benefits of dam removal to species interactions. 

Tonra, C.M., K. Sager-Fradkin, S.A. Morley, J.J. Duda, and P.P. Marra. 2015. The rapid return of marine-derived nutrients to a freshwater food web following dam removal. Biol. Conserv. 192 (2015): 130-134.

Using Acoustic Camera Technologies to Describe Juvenile Chinook Salmon Behavior at Cougar Dam, Oregon: Echoview Software Pty. Ltd. a hydroacoustic visualization and analysis software developer located in Hobart, Tasmania, recently published an online case study featuring work performed by USGS scientists from the Western Fisheries Research Center, Columbia River Research Laboratory. The case study describes the initial year of a 2-year study to determine the feasibility of using acoustic cameras to monitor fish movements to help inform decisions about fish passage at the Cougar Dam water temperature control tower located near Springfield, Oregon. Acoustic cameras, which allow for the observation of underwater targets regardless of water turbidity or light intensity, were positioned at the entrance of the tower to monitor free-ranging juvenile Chinook salmon. The acoustic camera technology allowed researchers to ascertain the fish travel speed and direction of travel for discrete size classes of fish moving toward the water temperature control tower, along with predator behaviors near the tower.

Adams, N.S., C.D. Smith, J.M. Plumb, G.S. Hansen, and J.W. Beeman. 2015. An evaluation of fish behavior upstream of the water temper-ature control tower at Cougar Dam, Oregon, using acoustic cameras, 2013: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015-1124, 62 p.

New USGS Report Assesses Status and Trends of Federally Endangered Suckers in Upper Klamath Lake: The status of two long-lived federally endangered suckers in Upper Klamath Lake-the Lost River sucker and shortnose sucker-remains worrisome because losses from mortality have not been balanced by recruitment of new individuals. In a recently completed USGS open-file report, USGS scientists use data from a long-term capture-recapture program to assess the status and dynamics of populations of sucker species in Upper Klamath Lake. Results from the study show decreases in populations of both species. The shortnose sucker population in Upper Klamath Lake is of most concern because of its smaller size, substantial decline over the past 15 years with little evidence of new spawners recruiting to the population, and lower survival in recent years which might indicate some senescence of the population. Most shortnose suckers in the lake are older than the average expected life span for the species and are within 5-10 years of the oldest known age for the species. 

Hewitt, D.A., E.C. Janney, B.S. Hayes, and A.C. Harris. 2015. Status and trends of adult Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose (Chasmistes brevirostris) sucker populations in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon 2014: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015-1189, 36 p.

New Publication Investigates Effects of Temperature on Disease in Great Lakes Salmon: Bacterial kidney disease (BKD) is a chronic disease of salmon caused by the bacterium Renibacterium salmoninarum. Infected fish may show signs of disease that range from inapparent to severe. Severe BKD played a role in the large losses of Chinook salmon in the Great Lakes during late 1980s. A number of environmental factors are thought to affect the severity of BKD. In a recent study published in the Journal of Fish Diseases, researchers from the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center specifically evaluated how temperature impacts BKD progression in Great Lakes Chinook salmon. The results showed that cooler water temperatures increased the risk of disease progression and contributed to greater bacterial transmission potential. The study was funded by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

Purcell, M.K., C.L. McKibben, S. Pearman-Gillman, D.G. Elliott, and J.R. Winton. 2016. Effects of temperature on Renibacterium salmoninarum infection and transmission potential in Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (Walbaum). J. Fish Dis. 39(7): 787-798.