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Western Fisheries Science News, November 2016 | Issue 4.11

December 27, 2016

Internship Supports Youth, Tribes, and Fish

Sam Doak (center) and scientists from the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation set up block nets to perform population estimates of fish in a pool on Rock Creek, WA.  Photo by Jill Hardiman, USGS.

As winter takes hold in the Columbia River Basin, Sam Doak reflects back on a very busy field season.  Over the summer and into the fall, Sam’s work covered three watersheds, included a variety of fish sampling techniques, and provided rewarding collaborations with the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, Klickitat, WA. As part of the Student Interns in Support of Native American Relations (SISNAR) program, Doak’s work was focused on fish of importance to the Tribe and in areas either owned by the Tribe or considered to be the Tribe’s usual and accustomed fishing areas. “This was my first time in the Pacific Northwest“ said Doak “I’ve learned a lot about salmon and trout, as well as many regional issues.“ But, what he learned through this program has meant much more. “Working side-by-side with scientists from the Tribe has allowed me to learn about the societal aspect of fisheries—to better understand and appreciate the cultural values of conservation and restoration in addition to the ecological values, and to appreciate the Tribe’s knowledge and connection to the fish and land.”

The SISNAR program provides interns work opportunities on current USGS projects directly related to, and preferably on, Native American tribal lands, and assisting Tribes with natural resource research issues including water, hazards, fish and wildlife, and climate change. These mutually beneficial projects also serve to build upon or create new relationships with Native American Tribes. Through an internal competitive process, the USGS Office of Tribal Relations liaison team solicits proposals. They select USGS projects that most benefit the Tribe on whose land the research is being conducted (each Tribe must provide written support for the internship) and that will provide meaningful internship experiences that educate interns about research and management of tribal natural resources.

“It’s a great program for us,” said Fish Biologist Jill Hardiman, “it allows us to work with early career interns to provide technical field experience as well as interpersonal relations with tribal biologists who are passionate about protecting natural and cultural resources. Additionally, I feel that the interns are able to better understand through the tribal perspective of how the land and resources have changed.”

Sam Doak came to the WFRC’s Columbia River Research Laboratory in June, 2016.  He brought with him prior experience in freshwater ecology, having recently completed a Master’s degree from Bangor University in the UK.  While working at WFRC, his work has focused on salmonid populations in the Columbia River Basin tributaries, including Wind River watershed restoration, White Salmon River salmonid recolonization, and Rock Creek fish and habitat assessments. When asked about his future plans, he expressed interest in staying on the West Coast and doing work focused on conservation. “Protecting local species is meaningful work, and I want to continue in this direction.”

Newsletter Author - Rachel Reagan



USGS Scientist Presents Monthly Lecture at Science on Tap: On November 28th, 2016, WFRC scientist Jim Winton presented the monthly lecture at Science on Tap - sponsored by the Ravenna Third Place Bookstore in Seattle, WA. The talk titled “Now it’s the Fish: Human Drivers of Infectious Disease in the Aquatic World” was attended by over 50 people and was followed by question and answer session.

USGS at Northwest Climate Conference: On November 16, 2016, WFRC scientist Jill Hardiman presented a poster at the 7th Annual Climate Conference at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, WA. Hardiman’s poster “Columbia Basin Partner Forum: Information Sharing, Collaboration, and Discussion on How to Address Landscape-Scale Stressors within the Columbia River Basin” introduced the Columbia Basin Partner Forum and highlighted some of its partnerships and goals. The NW Climate Conference brings together more than 250 researchers and practitioners from around the region to discuss scientific findings, challenges, and solutions related to the impacts of climate on people, natural resources, and infrastructure in the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada.

USGS at 9th Biennial Bay-Delta Science Conference: On November 15-17, 2016, scientists from the WFRC presented and participated in the 9th Biennial Bay-Delta Science Conference in Sacramento, CA. The conference theme this year was “Science for Solutions: Linking Data and Decisions.” Russell Perry led a session titled “Developing Spatially Explicit Agent-Based Models for Delta Fishes: Patterns, Processes, and Parameters” and many WFRC scientists gave presentations on recent research on juvenile salmon distributions and behavior in the Bay-delta. The Biennial Bay-Delta Science Conference provides a forum for presenting technical analyses and results relevant to the Delta Science Program’s mission to provide the best possible, unbiased, science-based information for water and environmental decision-making in the Bay-Delta system.

USGS Scientist at Lower Mekong River Fish Passage Conference: Scientist Emeritus John Beeman participated as an invited speaker at the Lower Mekong River Fish Passage Conference in Vientiane, Laos during November 14-18, 2016. Over 130 participants representing 14 countries met to discuss the importance of fish passage at existing and planned riverine barriers throughout the Lower Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia. Fish populations, the primary source of animal protein for 70 million people in the region, are at risk of significant reductions from migratory restrictions posed by dikes and dams used to enhance agriculture and economic development. The focus of the workshop was to reiterate the importance of fisheries to the region and work towards sustainable fisheries and hydropower development. Beeman was joined by scientists Stephen Walsh (USGS), David Hand (USFWS) and Doug Peterson (USFWS) to represent Interior’s International Technical Assistance Program.

USGS Scientist Participates in STEM Outreach: On November 9, 2016, WFRC fish biologist Lisa Wetzel participated in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Mega Meet-up at Seattle Pacific University (Seattle, WA). Representatives from different STEM related businesses and agencies were available to speak with students about their interests and potential pathways to career opportunities in their particular field.

USGS Scientist Participates in Panel Discussions on Careers of Women in Science: On November 2, 2016, WFRC fish biologist Lisa Wetzel participated in a panel discussion with students from the WiSE (Women in Science and Engineering) and MESA (Math, Science, Engineering and Achievement) Clubs at Highline College (DesMoines, WA) about having careers as women biologists and geologists. 


New Publication Evaluates how Management Actions Effect Pallid Sturgeon: The Missouri River Pallid Sturgeon Effects Analysis was designed in collaboration with the Missouri River Recovery Management Plan to address three components of an assessment of how management may affect pallid sturgeon population dynamics: collection of reliable scientific information, critical assessment and synthesis of available data and analyses, and analysis of the effects of management actions on listed species and their habitats. In a new USGS report, scientists from USGS, Oregon State University and Mississippi State University, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in cooperation with the Missouri River Recovery Program, provide a synthesis of the three components emphasizing development of lines of evidence relating potential future management actions to pallid sturgeon population dynamics. The report addresses 21 working management hypotheses that emerged from an expert opinion-based filtering process.

Jacobson, R.B., M.J. Parsley, M.L. Annis, M.E. Colvin, T.L. Welker, and D.A. James. 2016. Development of working hypotheses linking management of the Missouri River to population dynamics of Scaphirhynchus albus (pallid sturgeon): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015-1236, 33 p.