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Seabirds like hanging out in river plumes

When large rivers discharge their water into the sea, this creates a plume of freshwater that is highly variable. A new study that attached tiny satellite tags to seabirds now shows that both shearwaters and murres prefer to forage in plumes created by the massive Columbia River. In particular, they prefer the boundary areas between freshwater and sea water, since this area is where zooplankton and prey fish species are most concentrated. 

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Massive new map of genetic variation in rainbow trout and steelhead

Genetic techniques are capable of finding the entire sequence (“genome”) of DNA letters (“base pairs”), and have recently been applied to completely sequence 61 unrelated rainbow trout and steelhead individuals. The study found that one in every 64 letters varied across the rainbow trout examined (with variability in more than 30 million locations), and that there were more than 4 million locations where the individual DNA letters differ substantially. 

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Inherited growth rates and reproductive traits in oysters

Native oysters on the Pacific coast were devastated by commercial overfishing in the 20th century and their recovery has been prevented by water pollution, habitat loss, and possibly ocean acidification. Efforts underway to restore these Olympia oysters rely on harnessing genetic variation among populations to pick the best suited oysters for restoration. Now a new study shows that, even when reared for two generations under the same laboratory conditions, differences among populations persist. 

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Serious impacts of coal mining on stream dwellers

Coal mining is well known to have negative impacts on the quality of water in streams, and now new findings show that fish, invertebrates, and salamanders are badly affected by the resulting pollution. A synthesis demonstrated that animal numbers declined by more than half (53%), and species numbers declined by one third, in streams affected by coal mines. These impacts happened in spite of current federal statutes (the 1972 Clean Water Act and 1977 Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act), and persisted even after cleanup efforts post-mining. 

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Chelsea Wood receives UW Distinguished Teaching Award

SAFS professor Chelsea Wood has been awarded the University of Washington’s Distinguished Teaching Award, given annually to seven recipients for mastery of the subject matter; enthusiasm and innovation in the teaching and learning process; ability to engage students both within and outside the classroom; ability to inspire independent and original thinking in students and to stimulate students to do creative work; and innovations in course and curriculum design. 

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New tool for the safe passage of fish through hydroelectric dams

More than 80% of the world’s renewable electricity comes from hydropower generated from dams, but these dams impede upriver passage of fish, and potentially damage fish migrating downstream that pass through turbines or over slipways. A new toolset has now been developed that can better estimate injury and death rates from fish passing downstream, using the data from artificial “sensor fish” that mimic the passage of fish through turbines and slipways while collecting high-resolution data. 

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Timing of sea-ice retreat affects where birds are found

The Bering Sea has highly variable sea ice extent in winter, which can be used to tease out the effects of future climate change on marine animals such as seabirds. In a new study, SAFS professor George Hunt and coauthors examined how seabirds change location in years when sea ice melts earlier in the year. In these years, seabirds that feed far from land tend to come closer inshore, while seabirds that feed closer to shore move further offshore. 

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Centennial Stories 9

Jeffrey Olsen (BS, 1981; PhD, 1999)
I received a BS degree from the College of Fisheries in 1981. At that time, rather than attempt graduate school, I pursued employment. I wanted to experience hands-on fish biology, so I spent a couple years on the seasonal circuit doing all kinds of field work from Washington State to Alaska. It was great! I got to work for fish biologists in field camps, sample and count juvenile and adult salmon, survey fishermen, and do remote eggtakes. 

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Centennial Stories 8

Bernie May (MS, 1975)
Returning to the UW after two years in the army, I completed my BS in the newly created major in Molecular Biology. During my last year, I attended a class in Fish Genetics taught by Bill Hershberger. Fred Allendorf (then an MS student) gave a guest lecture on the use of genetic data from allozyme electrophoresis to address questions in fisheries management. 

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Centennial Stories 7

Andrew Hendry (MS, 1995; PhD, 1998)
In 1991, when I walked out of my last final exam in my final year at the University of Victoria, I cold-called my intended PhD supervisor, Dr. Tom Quinn. I gave a long, reasonably well-prepared spiel about my passion for salmon and my desire to do graduate work in his lab. A modest silence followed my monologue and then a “Well, it sounds like you would make an excellent graduate student but, unfortunately, you missed the application deadline by six months.” Momentarily crushed, my enthusiasm recovered when he suggested that I come work for him over the fall. 

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