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Variability in body growth is an important part of variability in fish populations

It has long been established, indeed it is almost axiomatic, that annual variability in births of new fish (“recruitment”) is the most important reason why the total mass of fish populations varies from year to year. The rate of which individual fish grow (“body growth”) is also known to vary from year to year, but is generally considered to be fairly unimportant in explaining population variability. 

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A new guide on how to figure out which parts of DNA are actually expressed

Scientists trained in ecology and physiology are increasingly able to complement their work with the burgeoning field of “functional genomics”, i.e. the study of which parts of DNA (the “genome”) are actually expressed and used to make proteins under different conditions. A new guide is now provided for those from non-genetic fields to harness the power of fast computers and rapid technology in sequencing the letters in DNA, so that they can infer how animals respond to the environment. 

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The blue-backed basslet, a new species from the Honduras

Reef fish species from waters deeper than 130 m are difficult to collect manually, because they are too deep for SCUBA divers. But now manned submersibles equipped with underwater vacuums are able to suck up new specimens with surprising alacrity. Among the specimens slurped up by one such submersible is brand new blue and gold species of basslet: the blue-backed basslet (Lipogramma adabeli), with distinct blue coloration, genetics, and habitat use distinguishing it from other similar species. 

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Designing salmon-friendly dam turbines

The Columbia River used to host returns of nearly 9 million salmon every year, led by the largest returns in the world of Chinook salmon (4.4 million fish). But construction of multiple large dams on various tributaries and the Columbia River itself, eliminated salmon from vast tracts of rivers above impassable dams, and also had a serious effect on salmon survival in the remaining areas. 

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Centennial Story 63: Don Weitkamp (MS, 1971; PhD, 1977): An Accidental Graduate Student

Ken Chew (MS, 1958; PhD, 1963; faculty) and Don Weitkamp, with field trip results

After graduating from WSU and enrolling at UW, my first task as a graduate student was to assist Ken Chew in setting up several oyster and mussel field stations to investigate shellfish diseases. I did find getting paid to conduct research while taking numerous interesting classes really stimulated my interest in graduate school. Ken introduced me to the questionable pleasure of consuming Olympic oysters fresh in the field. Although I love most shellfish, I never developed a fondness for raw oysters, although they are not too bad when consumed with a good Scotch.

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Centennial Story 62: Ian J. Stewart (MS, 2001; PhD, 2006)

Ian on the NMFS West Coast Bottom Trawl Survey

I’m from a small island off the coast of Maine and was never in doubt that I would work in fisheries in some way during my career. However, I did not have a well-organized plan, and my path to the University of Washington began by following my wife to Washington state after our graduation from Dartmouth College. I spent several years working a variety of “odd jobs,” from trapping flying squirrels to electrofishing the small streams of the Olympic Peninsula before realizing I needed to pursue graduate school.

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Centennial Story 59: Allan Hicks (PhD, 2013)

Allan Hicks with a 200+ pound Pacific halibut caught during the International Pacific Halibut Commission’s fishery-independent setline survey in 2018.

I grew up fishing in the Rocky Mountains of Canada and off the coast of central California. It was when I was a dockworker and unloading fishing boats in Port San Luis, California that I realized I wanted to become more involved with the assessment and management of fisheries.

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