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Ecological Genetics and Diversity in the Pacific Northwest

Science support for ongoing conservation and management activities.

Sashin Creek, AK, Steelhead smolt
Sashin Creek, AK, Steelhead smolt, Credit: NOAA Fisheries

We provide science support for ongoing conservation and management activities, including participation in protected species status reviews, listings, and recovery planning and actions. In addition, we use genetic tools and analysis to characterize factors affecting the performance of cultured aquatic species like Pacific salmon in captivity and their interaction with wild counterparts. 

Our Ongoing Genetic Research and Management Projects

  • Conduct 5-year status review updates for ESA-listed eulachon, Pacific salmon, and steelhead.
  • Coordinate and collaborate with the NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region on ESA consultations and serve on protected species recovery teams.
  • Evaluate interactions between fisheries and ESA-listed eulachon in the California Current in support of Pacific Fisheries Management Council’s Endangered Species Workgroup
  • Identify causes of steelhead mortality in Puget Sound and potential solutions.
  • Evaluate the historical ecology of eulachon in the Pacific Northwest to understand the factors that are limiting their recovery
  • Collaborate on developing salmon life-cycle models based on environmental and climate factors that affect salmon and steelhead life history and population dynamics.
  • Investigate the genetics of anadromous/resident life histories, age at smoltification, and age at maturation in wild steelhead
  • Hatchery-Wild interactions
  • Aquaculture techniques to prevent introgression between escaped and wild fish

We serve on recovery and biological review teams and assess the status of protected species–especially ESA-listed Pacific salmon, steelhead, and eulachon–and federal candidate species of conservation concern in the Pacific Northwest and the California Current. Also, we use historical sources to reconstruct past population structure and ecology of protected Pacific salmonids and eulachon. 


Krista Nichols, Genetics and Evolution Program Manager 
Rick Gustafson, Research Fish Biologist
Jim Myers, Research Fish Biologist
Kathleen Neely, Research Fish Biologist

More Information and Related Publications

Status Review of Puget Sound Steelhead 
Status Review of Eulachon
Status Review of Pinto Abalone
Status Review of Cherry Point Pacific Herring
Identifying Historical Pacific Salmonid Populations in Puget Sound, the Lower Columbia River, the Upper Columbia River, and within the contiguous U.S.