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Faster method of dealing with uncertainty in fisheries assessments

Complex computer models are used to estimate sustainable catches in fisheries, by finding the best values for dozens or hundreds of variables so that the models explain data such as trends in abundance and the number of fish at each age and length. Traditionally, software packages are used for this kind of model fitting, most commonly a package called AD Model Builder (ADMB), but more recently a package called Template Model Builder (TMB). 

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Centennial Story 15

Chang-Ik Zhang (PhD, 1987)
Chang-Ik Zhang started his studies at the University of Washington in 1981 and received a PhD in fisheries under Donald Gunderson in 1987. During his UW graduate studies, he received the Ellis Memorial Scholarship and the Anderson Memorial Scholarship. He was on the Dean’s List for 1985–1986 due to his academic achievements at UW. While a graduate student, he worked with classmates, Patrick Sullivan, now a professor at Cornell University, and Anne Hollowed, now at NOAA/Fisheries, writing scientific papers for publication and discussing scientific issues. 

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Centennial Story 14

Suam Kim (PhD, 1987)
Suam Kim received his B.Sc (1976) and M.Sc. (1979) in the Department of Oceanography from the Seoul National University (Republic of Korea) and his PhD in fisheries oceanography in the School of Fisheries (now SAFS) in 1987. His main research interest at the UW, conducted in collaboration with scientists at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, was the recruitment process for walleye pollock in the Gulf of Alaska. 

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Some differences between sexes in coho salmon are not linked to sex-determining DNA

A section of DNA in each species determines sex, and it is usually assumed that the many differences between sexes are due to DNA variability in this section. However, fresh evidence suggests that other parts of the genome also contribute to differences between sexes in many species from humans to fruit flies. A new study examines what parts of the DNA result in males and females reaching sexual maturity at different ages in coho salmon, and what influences their growth rates at young ages, finding that indeed there is some sex-specific control over these traits that comes from DNA outside of the sex-determining section of DNA. 

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Centennial Story 13

Martin Hall (PhD, 1983)
After graduating in Marine Biology from the University of Buenos Aires, I went to Patagonia to conduct research. My main interests were the management of the natural resources of the area, and I became involved in several projects. I realized that my training was not the right one to produce solid scientific answers to the questions of how much could be harvested sustainably and other issues relevant to most developing countries. 

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Centennial Story 12

Ximing Guo (MS, 1987; PhD, 1991)
I began graduate school at the School of Fisheries in 1985, after receiving a BS degree from Shandong College of Oceanography (now Ocean University of China). My decision to join UW was influenced by Lauren “Doc” Donaldson, whom I had the fortune to meet in Qingdao. Donaldson, a legendary fish geneticist who developed the famous “Donaldson Trout,” introduced UW to me and encouraged me to come. 

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Centennial Story 11

Vera Agostini (PhD, 2005)
I came to the PhD program at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Science from Rome, Italy, my birthplace. After a handful of years teaching on schooners with the Sea Education Association, and starting to learn the tricks of the trade as a visiting scientist with the Fisheries Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, I decided it was time to get some good grounding in fishery science. 

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Deciding how to best save toads from a deadly fungal disease

The deadly fungal disease Bd (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) is a major cause of the wave of recent extinctions of frogs and toads, but it is difficult to decide how to best save amphibian populations from its ravages. Now a new framework has been developed that helps managers decide which actions are the most beneficial. A combination of a model of multiple boreal toad breeding sites, and expert judgment, was used to assess 35 possible actions that either preserve habitat, reduce Bd prevalence, or reintroduce boreal toads to areas where they no longer exist. 

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Centennial Story 10

Sara Adlerstein-Gonzalez (MS, 1987; PhD, 1992)
My years at the University of Washington are among the best in my life; I was not the best student, but I must have been the happiest! I joined the MS program with a Chilean government scholarship, poised to obtain expertise in stock assessment and to go back to my job at the Undersecretary of Fisheries. 

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Better estimates of fish status with spatial fish models

Fisheries stock assessments commonly ignore space when assessing the status of small pelagic fish species like herring, anchovy, and sardines, because including multiple areas adds a large of number of parameters to the models. Results from a new simulation framework based on herring in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, now suggest that stock assessment estimates of spawning fish is improved when the models matched the true underlying changes in fish across areas, and therefore that future stock assessments should always include spatial structure when the fish population can be assigned to subpopulations. 

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