Dr. Anna Steel

Dam management impacts migration and conservation of anadromous fishes

contributed by Zack Steel @zlsteel and Anna Steel @AnnaESteel


Animals, Aquatic, Behavior, Christian, Conservation, Ecology, Environmental change, Field, Freshwater, Fundamental research, Migration/orientation/navigation, North America, Observational, Physiological/organismal ecology, Restoration, Woman



View and download in google slides here 


Note: click the gear symbol or see below for notes that accompany the presentation


Other Resources

Steel, Anne E., M. J. Thomas, and A.P. Klimley. 2018. Reach specific use of spawning habitat by adult green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) under different operation schedules at Red Bluff Diversion Dam. Journal of Applied Ichthyology DOI: 10.1111/jai.13602


Presentation Notes


Researcher’s Background

Anna is a movement ecologist at the University of California in Davis. She studies how fishes move in freshwater systems, how they interact with predators and human structures, and the conservation consequences of those interactions.


PB: Why did you become a biologist?

AS: I was fascinated by how intricate nature was, and wanted to know more


PB: What is your favorite part about your job?

AS: So many things! My favorite is probably that I am always learning new things, and it is continually changing the way I see the natural world, tiny steps at a time.


PB: What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are?

AS: My own hesitancy, doubt, and self-consciousness – even now, some days I still struggle to see myself as a scientist who can make a meaningful contribution to conservation.


PB: What advice do you have for aspiring biologists?

AS: If you love what you’re doing, keep at it. Work hard, no matter what. And trust yourself – for me this is often the scariest part!


PB: Do you feel that any dimension of your identity is invisible or under-represented/marginalized in STEM?

AS: I identify as a woman, and I notice few women in authority positions in the fisheries and management field. I also feel that very few scientists are openly religious, and I have been a free-thinking Episcopalian all my life.


Research Overview


Take home message of study

Dams often act as barriers to migration of anadromous fishes (fish that migrate up rivers from the sea to spawn) and often have profound impacts on their populations. For some dam types, adjusting the timing of operation to accommodate fish life history can help conserve these species.


Study system

Adult green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) reared in the lab


Key Research Points


Main figure

Probability of a sturgeon passing the dam and accessing spawning grounds when gates blocking fish migration are closed early (May), late (June) or not at all during a season. Fish had the highest probability of passing the dam when there was no dam operation schedule.


Societal Relevance

Many anadromous fish including salmon and sturgeon, are threatened by our management of freshwater systems, especially dam construction and operation. The conservation of these species is important for both ecological integrity and local economies dependent on healthy fisheries.


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