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Areas of interest
Salmon Ecosystem Projects
Salmon are the ultimate keystone species, with wide-ranging impacts on coastal, freshwater and adjacent terrestrial ecosystems. They are also under serious threat. In the Pacific Northwest, 25% of salmon stocks have disappeared or become severely threatened, leading to the loss of half of B.C.’s commercial salmon fleet in the past decade. Many watersheds face intense pressures from urbanization, deforestation, pollution, and climate change.
These pressures mirror those affecting aquatic biodiversity in many parts of the world. Twenty percent of the world’s freshwater fishes are considered at risk of extinction, 20% of the world’s coral reefs have been destroyed with little chance of immediate recovery, and 77% of the world’s fisheries are fully or over-exploited.
Our research program is focussing on conservation and ecology of Pacific salmon with an emphasis on their ecosystems, including connections between marine, freshwater and terrestrial habitats. We are setting up long-term field studies and experiments designed to understand how various human impacts on salmon and their habitats translate into population declines and recovery, including the many species of terrestrial plants and animals that are linked to nutrients and trophic interactions involving salmon. We hope that this will lead to more holistic management of salmon and aquatic habitats.
Life Histories and Extinction Risk
We are studying links between key life history traits and population dynamics of a wide variety of species, with an emphasis on understanding why some species are more prone to extinction than others. Much of this research has focussed on freshwater and marine fish species, but we have also been using case studies with other taxa, such as Cambodian water snakes. This research is being use to improve our understanding of the pros and cons of various criteria that are being used to evaluate the threat status of species, as well as options for recovery.