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210 posts in Research

Acoustics under the ice: a complete story of marine life temporal cycles

Researchers lowering the Chukchi Ecosystem Observatory (CEO) innto the Chukchi Sea. University of Alaska Fairbanks

Silvana González, a PhD student at the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, uses acoustic techniques to collect data in otherwise inaccessible locations. In high-latitude marine ecosystems, like the Chukchi Sea, traditional vessel-based sampling for fish and zooplankton is only possible in seasons without sea ice. This limiting factor results in an incomplete picture of the life history of these species and the ecosystem as a whole. By utilizing remote acoustic measurements recorded throughout the year and under the sea ice, González is able to piece together a more complete picture of arctic marine life.

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Harbor seal skulls provide clues to Puget Sound’s past food webs

The adage “you are what you eat” generally turns out to be true. Foods we ingest are broken down into amino acids and absorbed into our bodies, leaving trace elements in our bones. In turn, these amino acids can be traced back to their source like a biological receipt, revealing information about the environment. Using this knowledge, researchers are conducting isotope analysis of amino acids in harbor seal skulls to determine the composition of historical marine food webs.

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Capstone Highlight: New Species of Damselfish

Capstone research projects provide an exciting opportunity for students to put classroom learning into practice—and sometimes even publish their work. These senior projects are the culmination of the undergraduate experience here at SAFS.
Emily McFarland (BS 2020) published her capstone, “A new species of Chromis damselfish from the tropical western Atlantic (Teleostei, Pomacentridae),” this past December. The new species—Chromis vanbebberae —was revealed through phylogenetic analyses to be distinct from Chromis enchrysurus, commonly known as the Yellowtail Reeffish. 

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‘By-the-wind sailor’ jellies wash ashore in massive numbers after warmer winters

Velella velella, also called “by-the-wind sailor” jellies, that washed ashore at Moolack Beach, Oregon

Thanks to 20 years of observations from thousands of citizen scientists, University of Washington researchers have discovered distinct patterns in the mass strandings of by-the-wind sailor jellies. Specifically, large strandings happened simultaneously from the northwest tip of Washington south to the Mendocino coast in California, and in years when winters were warmer than usual.

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DNA sequencing reveals genetic basis of herring biodiversity

Conducting herring field work in Bella Bella, British Columbia in 2014. Richard Reid (Heiltsuk Coastal Guardian Watchmen), Eleni Petrou (UW) and Kira Krumhansl (SFU) subsample herring for genetic research.

Herring that spawn at different times of the year are genetically distinct from one another, according to a new paper published Feb 24th in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The study, led by Eleni Petrou and Lorenz Hauser from the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, shows that populations of Pacific herring along the US west coast are genetically structured based on when they spawn and secondarily, where they spawn.

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In Brazil, many smaller dams disrupt fish more than large hydropower projects

A small hydropower dam in Brazil

A new University of Washington paper quantifies the tradeoffs between hydroelectric generation capacity and the impacts on river connectivity for thousands of current and projected future dams across Brazil. The findings confirm that small hydropower plants are far more responsible for river fragmentation than their larger counterparts due to their prevalence and distribution.

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