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Parasites lost: using natural history collections to track disease change

Tracking changes in diseases over time is an increasingly important topic given changes in global temperature. Put simply, is a warmer world a sicker world? Reported rates of disease may increase over time but it is difficult to distinguish between better reporting of disease, and true increases in disease prevalence. A new study in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment now highlights the critical role of natural history collections, which contain many millions of specimens, in piecing together true rates of disease over deep time (many centuries). 

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How many beluga whales are there in that school? A new method.

Smaller species of swimming marine mammals are often hard to count because they might be present in ones or twos or in groups of hundreds of individuals. Typical survey methods face multiple types of bias when trying to count total numbers because some individuals are missed. For aerial surveys, this is particularly problematic: individuals in a school can be missed because they are diving, too close to other individuals to be seen, or too far away to be detected in photographs or videos. 

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Sea otters diversify their diets as their numbers grow

Due to hunting, sea otters were extirpated from most of their former range, including all of Washington state. In 1969 and 1970 a small group of 59 sea otters from Amchitka Island, Alaska, were reintroduced to the outer coast of Washington state, where they have since flourished to more than 2000 individuals. As their numbers have increased, they have expanded along the coast, resulting in a patchwork of locations containing sea otters that have been present in each location for differing lengths of time and at a range of densities. 

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Our Watery Worlds: UW Aquatic Science Open House

A family looks at a table exhibit during the UW Aquatic Science Open House

When: May 4th, 2019 from 1-4 pm
Locations: Fishery Sciences Building (FSH), 1122 Boat Street, Seattle, WA 98105;
Ocean Sciences Building (OSB), 1492 NE Boat St, Seattle, WA 98105
Cost: FREE!
Come join us for a free and family-friendly afternoon of hands-on learning at Our Watery World, the second annual aquatic science open house at the UW to celebrate science and research that relates to water. 

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Protected by Prawns

In rural communities across the tropics, a parasitic disease called schistosomiasis that is carried by freshwater snails currently infects more than 220 million people, rivaling malaria in its prevalence. Capable of residing in an infected human for more than 30 years, the Schistosoma parasite can cause debilitating and often-fatal health complications, including liver failure, bladder cancer, and an increased risk of AIDS. An estimated 280,000 people in Africa alone die each year from the disease. Despite 50 years of medical intervention and the availability of a relatively inexpensive and effective drug, the disease has stubbornly resisted eradication efforts, largely due to the ease with which the parasite reinfects its human hosts.

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The Ocean Modeling Forum presents Pacific herring research in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia

The Ocean Modeling Forum (OMF) is a University of Washington program run through the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences that aims to bring together interdisciplinary scientists, modeling experts, decision makers, and other people invested in ocean resources. The OMF helps managers frame questions, understand the strengths and limitations of different models, and learn how to incorporate models in their work. 

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Centennial Story 88: Dave Beauchamp (BS, 1980; MS, 1982; PhD, 1987; Faculty 1999–2017)

sampling the right way with Chris Sergeant (BS, 2000; MS, 2004) and Anne Beaudreau (PhD; 2009) in Juneau

I grew up in southern California, but spent summer vacations in the Pacific Northwest. These trips convinced me that there were more desirable places to live than the urban–suburban sprawl of Los Angeles and Orange counties. I always loved fishing and science and was intrigued by what influenced the behaviour and productivity of trout—melding my interests into a career in fish biology seemed natural. 

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Centennial Story 86: Carolina V. Minte-Vera (PhD, 2004)

SAFS was a place to make life-long friendship: Billy Ernst, Juan Valero, Jody Brauner-Lando (PhD, 2004) and Ivonne Ortiz (MS, 2002; PhD, 2007) on the SAFS front lawn after my first snow day in Seattle. I took this picture from the window of our office in the Hilborn Lab at the 3rd floor of the School (circa 2003).

My career in fisheries started after I finished my degree in Ecology in Brazil (State University of Sao Paulo, UNESP) and decided to change my research field from myrmecology to fisheries. Although working on ant ecology under the great Harold G. Fowler sparked my scientific curiosity and brought me joy, I soon realized that very few people in the world ate ants… Also, as an undergraduate, the quantitative ecology classes of Miguel Petrere captivated my interest. 

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Centennial Story 85: Alexandre Aires-da-Silva (PhD, 2008)

Sampling marlin catches in artisanal fisheries; El Salvador, 2013.

I first visited SAFS in February 2000. With a Fulbright scholarship in my pocket, I was “shopping” PhD programs in fisheries stock assessment. I felt instant chemistry with SAFS. The new building had just been inaugurated, and the atmosphere was so friendly. A stroll around the beautiful UW campus was the first of many that I would come to enjoy. There was also the U-district, where brilliant minds from the four corners of the world come to share their experiences. 

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