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Western Fisheries Science News, April 2017 | Issue 5.4

Dr. Jim Winton Retires After Long Distinguished Career

Dr. James R. Winton

On March 31st, WFRC’s Fish Health Section Chief Dr. James “Jim” Winton retired. Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Winton made many scientific discoveries, mentored young scientists, formed long-term partnerships, and played a large role in shaping the WFRC’s Fish Health Section, bringing it to be recognized as an international leader in the field of fish health.

“Fish diseases are often overlooked in terms of their overall impact on fish populations,” said Dr. Jill Rolland, Director of the WFRC, “Jim has played an important role in helping resource managers understand the role of pathogens and consequently, many management decisions have been more successful when they incorporated disease aspects.”

Dr. Winton was recruited from Oregon State University in 1986 to join the Fish Health Research Team, becoming the Fish Health Section Chief in 1996. During his career at the WFRC, he helped to design a purpose-built laboratory to safely study high risk aquatic pathogens; mentored a team of dedicated and talented scientists in the fish health field; and got to work investigating important infectious diseases of freshwater and marine fishes.  Dr. Winton’s accomplishments throughout his career are extensive, including over 200 peer-reviewed publications, characterizations of novel pathogens and emerging diseases, development of new and modern methods for solving fish health problems, and awards from governmental, academic, and professional societies. He played a significant role in addressing high profile potential fish health threats in the Pacific Northwest, in the Great Lakes, and areas in Europe and Asia.

Dr. Winton served an important role in providing technical assistance to private sector, public sector, university, tribal and international entities, and was involved in numerous collaborative research projects both nationally and internationally. In the U.S., this assistance is especially important to the Native Alaskan subsistence fishery, to Pacific Northwest tribal hatchery programs, and to recovery of endangered fishes across the country. Additionally, Dr. Winton served as a faculty or affiliate faculty member in the University of Washington, Oregon State University, Michigan State University and the University of Idaho. He enlightened students with informative lectures on fish health topics, and served on committees of many graduate students who have gone on to employment in the fish health field.

“Even with his stature as an internationally recognized expert in his field, Dr. Winton has always chosen to be open and share his expertise with everyone” said Rolland, “This has led to many incredible collaborations with people interested in fish health nationally and internationally and continues to make WFRC a destination for professors on sabbatical, grad students and folks wanting to do internships with us.”

The WFRC’s Fish Health Section is being left in the hands of the next generation of research scientists. Dr. Maureen Purcell, a Research Microbiologist at the WFRC in Seattle, has taken on the role of Section Chief, as well as continuing her diverse research program. Also at the Seattle laboratory, Dr. John Hansen’s research examines how the fish immune system is impacted by contaminants and other stressors. Dr. Gael Kurath is an internationally-recognized expert in fish virology and studies landscape drivers of viral epidemiology and evolution. Dr. Diane Elliott and Carla Conway run the core fish histopathology laboratory. Evi Emmenegger studies the risk posed by exotic aquatic viruses using the WFRC’s high containment facility. Bill Batts provides technical assistance to many different partner agencies, primarily by assisting in pathogen discovery. Dr. Paul Hershberger is the station lead at the marine laboratory on Marrowstone Island, investigating the disease ecology of marine fishes.

USGS Scientist Emeritus

Dr. Winton will join Dr. Gary Wedemeyer as WFRC Scientist Emeriti in Seattle. The USGS Scientist Emeritus positions are reserved for scientists who have had long, distinguished careers with the USGS.  We welcome Dr. Winton to this new role and we hope to see him in the lab between his fishing trips.

Newsletter Author - Rachel Reagan



USGS at Salmon Recovery Conference: On April 25-27, scientists from the WFRC presented at the Salmon Recovery Conference in Wenatchee, WA. The conference brought together people working across the state to restore our rivers, streams, forests, and shorelines. USGS scientists presented in various sessions on Upper Columbia River salmon reintroduction; innovative tools to expedite recovery; marine and riverine food web and habitat; and monitoring for salmon recovery.

USGS Scientist Provides Lecture on Herring Disease to Alaskan Students: USGS scientist Paul Hershberger WFRC’s Marrowstone Marine Field Station recently provided a guest lecture about herring diseases to a group of Alaska Native students from Mount Edgecumbe High School in Sitka, AK. The students were part of a herring ecology program and taking an annual field trip to assess the health of Pacific herring in various locations throughout Alaska.


USGS Scientist Receives Appreciation Award: Noah Adams from the WFRC recently received a recognition award from the National Park Service for his work in reducing aquatic invasive species (AIS) from the ballast water vector. Adam’s work has led to technology that has been licenses to private industry to reduce AIS invasions.

Publication Receives Recognition in Journal of Animal Ecology: A recent paper co-authored by scientists from University of British Columbia and USGS was voted 2nd runner up for the Elton Prize—an award for best paper in the Journal of Animal Ecology—in 2016. The paper was led by an early career researcher and addressed how temperature, body size and food availability influence the degree of binge-feeding by bull trout, comparing field observations with laboratory experiments.

In The News

Scientist Quoted in The Columbia Basin Bulletin: On April 7, USGS scientist Craig Haskell was quoted in The Columbia Basin Bulletin about a recent article in Ecology of Freshwater Fish describing the shift in sources of marine-derived nutrients in the Columbia River Basin. Haskell quantified the nutrient flux attributable to nonnative American shad and infers how nutrient loading may have shifted spatially and temporally from what was historically contributed by salmon. 

WFRC Scientist Featured on Enviro Gorge: USGS scientist Tim Counihan is currently being featured in an article and video on Enviro Gorge, an online outlet that covers news in the Columbia River Gorge. The video is part of a series profiling scientists living in the Columbia River Gorge area.


New Publication from World Organization for Animal Health Project: Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) is a major pathogen of rainbow and steelhead trout, Chinook salmon, sockeye and kokanee salmon and other salmonid fish species and has been detected in North America, Asia and Europe. A number of methods have been established for quantitative detection of IHNV, but are prone to limitations. In a new publication in Journal of Virological Methods scientists from People's Republic of China and USGS evaluated the potential of a recently developed droplet digital polymerase chain reaction technology for its potential in attaining accurate quantification of IHNV. Scientists from USGS WFRC have been participating in an international project funded by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to provide training and expertise on IHNV to Chinese researchers. The IHN virus was originally endemic to North America, but has emerged to become a significant problem affecting coldwater aquaculture in Asia.

Jia, P., M.K. Purcell, G. Pan, J. Wang, S. Kan, Y. Liu, X. Zheng, X. Shi, J. He, L. Yu, Q. Hua, T. Lu, W. Lan, J.R. Winton, N. Jin, and H. Liu. 2017. Analytical validation of a reverse transcriptase droplet digital PCR (RT-ddPCR) for quantitative detection of infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus. J. Virol. Methods 245: 73-80.

New USGS Publication on Brackish Groundwater in the United States: For some parts of the Nation, large-scale development of groundwater has caused decreases in the amount of groundwater that is present in aquifer storage and that discharges to surface-water bodies. Water supply in some areas, particularly in arid and semiarid regions, is not adequate to meet demand, and severe drought is affecting large parts of the United States. Future water demand is projected to heighten the current stress on groundwater resources, leading to concerns about the availability of freshwater to meet domestic, agricultural, industrial, mining, and environmental needs. In a recent USGS publication), scientists report on a national brackish groundwater assessment to better understand the occurrence and characteristics of brackish groundwater in the United States as a potential water resource. This study, the first of its kind in more than 50 years, found that the amount of brackish groundwater underlying the country is more than 800 times the amount currently used each year. Alta Harris, an ecologist with USGS Western Fisheries Research Center and author on the report provided database expertise and will be working as part of a joint USGS-U.S. Bureau of Reclamation effort to develop a web mapping and visualization tool that will make the database accessible for use in water resources planning, management, and water treatment technology research. The publication was coordinated with a news release.

Stanton, J.S., D.W. Anning, C.J. Brown, R.B. Moore, V.L. McGuire, S.L. Qi, A.C. Harris, K.F. Dennehy, P.B. McMahon, J.R. Degnan, and J.K. Böhlke. 2017. Brackish groundwater in the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1833, 185 p.

New Publication on Invasive Asian Clams: The invasive Asian clam Corbicula fluminea was introduced to North America in the 1930s and now inhabits most regions of the conterminous United States; however, the distribution and ecology of C. fluminea in the Columbia River Basin is poorly understood. In a recent article in Lake and Reservoir Management, scientists from Washington State University and USGS investigate the distributions and characterize the ecology of the Asian clam in Columbia River reservoirs and lakes.

Hassett, W., S.M. Bollens, T.D. Counihan, G. Rollwagen-Bollens, J. Zimmerman, S. Katz, and J. Emerson. 2017. Veligers of the invasive Asian clam Corbicula fluminea in the Columbia River Basin: broadscale distribution, abundance, and ecological associations. Lake Reservoir Manage.