Thomas Quinn

Research areas

My research addresses a wide variety of topics related to the behavior, ecology, evolution, and conservation of Pacific salmon, trout, and char, and their ecosystems. One of my long-standing interests is the patterns of migration and homing, and the mechanisms that underlie these behavior patterns. This work involves sonic and radio tracking, analysis of large data sets on tagged fish, and experiments. I am also interested in the evolutionary aspects of homing – the formation of locally adapted populations, and gene flow arising from straying. This work includes natural populations, populations transplanted to other locations, and the recolonization of habitat after dam removal or modification. Another interest is in predator-prey interactions in both juvenile salmonids and also adults, with a particular emphasis on predation by bears, including ecological and evolutionary aspects of predation on salmon. In addition, I have had a number of projects related to the ecological and evolutionary effects of human activities, such as selective fishing and artificial propagation in hatcheries on salmon and trout.

Much of my work is conducted in Washington, and in particular in Puget Sound and the western part of the state, including dam-removal and migration research. However, I have also been involved in research at the University of Washington’s field camps in southwestern Alaska since 1987, and those projects include long-term analysis of bear predation, differentiation of sockeye salmon populations, and other aspects of the ecology, behavior and evolution of salmon, rainbow trout, and char (Dolly Varden and Arctic char).


Areas of Expertise

  • Ecology, behavior, evolution and conservation of salmon and trout
  • Migration and homing
  • Predator-prey interactions
  • Reproduction
  • Selective effects of fisheries and artificial propagation
  • Climate change

Community Engagement and Awards


  • 1991 University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Award
  • 1998 College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences Distinguished Research Award
  • 2000 Fulbright Fellowship to study in Ireland
  • 2008 Marsha Landolt Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award, University of Washington
  • 2010 Excellence in Fisheries Education Award, American Fisheries Society
  • 2010 Elected member, Washington State Academy of Sciences
  • Mason Keeler Endowed Professor in Recreational Fisheries Management
  • Richard C. and Lois M. Worthington Endowed Professorship in Fisheries Management

Selected publications

  • 2015. J. H. Anderson, P. L. Faulds, K. D. Burton, M. E. Koehler, W. I. Atlas, and T. P. Quinn. Dispersal and productivity of Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and coho (O. kisutch) salmon colonizing newly accessible habitat. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 72: 454-465

  • 2015. F. A. Goetz, E. Jeanes, M. E. Moore, and T. P. Quinn. 2015. Comparative migratory behavior and survival of wild and hatchery steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) smolts in riverine, estuarine, and marine habitats of Puget Sound, Washington Environmental Biology of Fishes 98: 357-375

  • 2013. C. J. Cunningham, G. T. Ruggerone, and T. P. Quinn. Size-selectivity of predation by brown bears depends on the density of their sockeye salmon prey. American Naturalist 181: 663-673

  • 2013. M. H. Bond and T. P. Quinn. Patterns and influences on Dolly Varden migratory timing in Chignik Lakes, Alaska, and comparison to populations throughout the Northeastern Pacific and Arctic oceans. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 70: 655-665

  • 2013. P. A. H. Westley, T. P. Quinn and A. H. Dittman. Rates of straying by hatchery-produced Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) and steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) differ among species, life history types, and populations. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 70: 735-746