Dam management impacts migration and conservation of anadromous fishes
Animals, Aquatic, Behavior, Christian, Conservation, Ecology, Environmental change, Field, Freshwater, Fundamental research, Migration/orientation/navigation, North America, Observational, Physiological/organismal ecology, Restoration, Woman
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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
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.
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.
Adult green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) reared in the lab
Key Research Points
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.
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.