Conservation biology, sustainability and Earth stewardship
Conservation biology is concerned with preserving the rich biodiversity of life on Earth. Sustaining this diversity into the future is called Earth stewardship. Conservation biology and Earth stewardship blend eco-evolutionary research with ethics and education to help ensure a sustainable future for the biosphere. We are currently planning a session on Earth Stewardship at the Stockholm Resilience Conference in 2017:
Conservation biology of salmon and trout
“The importance of theory (and experimentation) notwithstanding, the interpretation of …nature must rely heavily on professional judgment. So much must be done in so short a time to protect the remaining genetic diversity of these fishes that I cannot responsibly suspend judgments…in the hope that irrefutable data might one day be collected.” - Robert Behnke (1992, AFS Monograph 6)
One main interest is linking a life history-based ecological research program to conservation of salmon and trout. Because many salmon and trout populations migrate long distances, they often require river, lake, and ocean habitats to complete their life cycle. Thus, they are particularly susceptible to local extinctions due to habitat alteration. Successful conservation of native salmonds requires research and management programs that consider all of their life history stages. Salmonid ecologists have a long history of conducting conservation-relevant research, but this has not been enough to stem the tide of extinction of endemic salmon and trout populations worldwide. I am developing a research program to both review important historical contributions to salmon ecology, and to prioritize future research efforts.
Recent and ongoing research includes reviews on:
- the effects of salmon on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems
- local adaptation and conservation
- multiple-scale ecological models for brown trout
Foraging and habitat selection models
“Why do fish prefer one position over the multitude of alternatives?” - Nicholas Hughes (Hughes and Dill 1990, CJFAS)
One of my main research interests is improving the ecological understanding of fish distribution and abundance. Until we are better able to understand why fish select a given habitat, our ability to predict distribution and abundance will remain limited to correlative studies. Consequently, we will remain unable to predict the effects of habitat change, either natural or anthropogenic. Over the past thirty years ecologists have developed to theoretical tools to test mechanistic hypothesis explaining fish habitat selection. My research interest is to further develop and field-test advanced, individual-based habitat selection models. This research includes field and lab experiments ranging in scale from foraging success of individuals to bioenergetics-based models of stream-scale distribution and abundance, and lacustrine and oceanic distribution of salmon.
***Read the latest on drift foraging in the new special issue of Environmental Biology of Fishes.
I lead courses on Conservation Biology, Ecosystem Stewardship, and Ecological Resource Management.