M.S. Ecology, University of California, Davis, 2006
B.A. Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley 1998
Fish Ecology, Conservation, Inland Waters, Water Quality, Aquatic Invertebrates, Biochronology, Hatcheries
I am broadly interested in the ecology and conservation of inland waters. My master’s research focused on investigating the relationship between environmental temperatures and juvenile steelhead trout growth patterns, estimated by otolith microanalysis, at the watershed-level scale. Now as PhD student, I am investigating bio-physical coupling in an intermittent estuary, including the influence of an ecosystem state shift on fish ecology and behavior.
Intermittent estuaries are those whose connection to the ocean is severed for a period of time due to physical blockage. They are especially common Mediterranean-climate regions like California where approximately 70% of the State’s estuaries are intermittently closed due to the formation of coastal sandbars at the river’s mouth. In addition to blocking fish migration routes to and from the ocean, this geomorphological event can lead to rapid and drastic changes in water physics, chemistry, and quality. My research involves tracking fish assemblage shifts across ecosystem state shifts, investigating steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) population dynamics and bioenergetics through a combination of mark-recapture, scale pattern analysis, and otolith analysis. Beginning spring 2013, I also plan to track fine-scale steelhead movement patterns using acoustic tags. To date, my research has involved monthly seine sampling in the Pescadero Estuary since July 2011. Our preliminary results suggest a higher abundance and diversity of fishes during the open state and y extremely fast growth rates of juvenile steelhead during both the open and closed states. Importantly, the transition from closed lagoon to open estuary has been associated with a fish and invertebrate die-off in 14 out of the last 18 years, including each year from 2001 to 2011 and our work aims to help unravel the reasons for this event (see Wall Street Journal article explaining this situation: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204257504577152783314802806.html
In addition to the estuary work, I am also involved in a collaborative project led by my academic advisor, Dr. Stephanie Carlson, investigating temporal trends in hatchery releases of California Central Valley fall run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). We have compiled information on the temporal trends in the number of juveniles released and their sizes and ages at release across all five hatcheries for a period of roughly five decades (Huber and Carlson in prep.). Thorough review of previous hatchery release practices should lead to a better understanding of the influence of hatcheries on this stock complex and perhaps lend some insight into its recent collapse.
Graduate Student Instructor for ESPM 115C (Fish Ecology), Fall 2011