Healthy and diverse fish populations are necessary to sustain resilient coastal communities. HMSC labs contribute to collaborative partnerships among academics, state and federal agencies, and commercial and recreational fishers. Explore HMSC labs working on the complex issues revolving around sustainable fisheries and conservation.
The Sponaugle-Cowen Plankton Ecology Laboratory conducts basic and applied research on the ecology of marine fishes and the dynamics of their early life history stages. They are especially interested in the processes underlying the growth, survival, and dispersal of early life stages, leading to successful settlement and recruitment to the benthic populations. Most of their work has focused on marine fishes in a variety of systems but especially those on tropical coral reefs. Some of their interdisciplinary efforts have focused on identifying the physical and biological processes creating a temporal and spatial pattern in offshore larval distributions and overall larval supply. Other efforts have been directed at identifying the linkages between the pelagic life of larvae and subsequent recruitment of juveniles to the reef. The lab's overarching goal is to better understand the events occurring in the pelagic larval stage that influence population replenishment and connectivity. The data they collect is not only relevant to ecology and oceanography, but also are useful for quantifying overall population replenishment, designing and evaluating marine reserves, and interpreting future environmental changes.
The Seabird Oceanography Lab (SOL) at Oregon State University is involved in research focusing on seabird ecology, movement ecology, oceanography, and integrated ecosystem studies while providing research and educational opportunities for students.
Research applications range from colony- and vessel-based observational studies to deploying state of the art electronics to study individual foraging, dispersal, migration, and behavior patterns of seabirds. These biologging data are often integrated with in-situ and remotely-sensed measures of prey resources or their proxies or related to human activities (e.g., fishing) or threats. In addition to environmental "bottom-up" studies, we also study the "top-down" effects of predators on seabird population dynamics and life histories.
Conservation aspects of the research include species restoration, population assessment, and monitoring, seabird-fishery interactions, identification of marine important bird areas, and marine spatial planning.
The scientists of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center conduct leading-edge research and analyses that provide the foundation for management decisions to protect, recover, restore, and sustain ecosystems and living marine resources in the Pacific Northwest.
The Pacific Northwest is home to over 90 species of commercially-managed groundfish along the West Coast and over 30 threatened or endangered fish and marine mammal species--including iconic Pacific salmon and killer whales. Protecting our region's living marine resources and their habitats is critical to sustaining the environment, our economy, public health, and quality of life.
The NWFSC's mission is to conduct the science necessary to conserve marine and anadromous species and their habitats off Washington, Oregon, and northern California coasts and in freshwater rivers of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Our research provides reliable, relevant, and credible information to help decision-makers and natural resource managers build sustainable fisheries, recover endangered and threatened species, maintain healthy ecosystems, and protect human health. The Center is also dedicated to enhancing public awareness, education, and stewardship of our marine resources.
The Fisheries Behavioral Ecology Program conducts laboratory research on the behavioral responses of commercially important marine fishes to environmental factors that are critical to controlling distribution and survival from egg to adult. Research also focuses on defining the factors which affect postcapture survival and mortality of fish that are caught as bycatch. The experimental laboratories consist of more than 17,000 cubic feet of tank space housed in over 18,000 square feet of wet laboratory space supplied with 500 gallons per minute of high quality seawater, 200 gallons per minute of which can be chilled to 3° C. Species of current interest include walleye pollock, sablefish, and Pacific halibut.
The State Fisheries Genetics Lab conducts fisheries genetics research that addresses the science and management needs of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. We provide leadership in the production of genetic data, the development of science-based tools and information from those data, and the formulation of science-based recommendations based on the genetic information. Our research spans both the freshwater and marine environments, focusing on species of ecological, evolutionary, or economic importance.
PI Contact: Kathleen O'Malley
The Molluscan Broodstock Program (MBP) works in partnership with the West Coast oyster industry to improve the performance of Pacific oysters through genetic selection.
The objectives of MBP are: 1) to improve Pacific oyster broodstock through selection to enhance commercial yields and other desirable traits, 2) to establish a broodstock management program with industry for sustainable, long- term improvements in commercial production, 3) to maintain a repository for genetically selected oyster families and cryopreserved gametes.
Oyster families are planted in partnership with the West Coast oyster industry at sites in California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Families with the highest yields (meat weights) are identified and crossed to produce subsequent generations for selection. Selected broodstock and advice on broodstock management are provided to industry to enhance commercial production. Seed produced by the Molluscan Broodstock Program is cultured under conditions that exclude potential infections from harmful microorganisms and parasites. A repository preserves valuable genetic material for future applications.
PI Contact: Chris Langdon
Research in Michael Banks' Marine Fisheries Genomics Lab centers on the application of population genetic and genomic principles towards a better understanding of processes important to the management, utilization, and conservation of marine fisheries. Michael’s lab focuses on the genetic characterization of natural populations, fishery subjects, and aquacultural species. The research determines specifics on hybridized, admixed, or recently diverged populations, population membership of mixed fishery samples, and individual unknown samples from various contexts (such as water diversions). The Banks lab also applies genomic tools to learn how fish (or other creatures important to the fishery food chain) orient in space and time, as well as relative to olfactory stimuli, and how these findings relate to their interaction for mating, migration, response to environmental variability, etc.
PI Contact: Michael Banks
The Marine & Anadromous Fisheries Ecology lab studies how animals move throughout rivers and oceans (their transport, dispersal, and migration) and how that movement affects their growth and survival. Headed by Jessica Miller, researchers in the lab focus primarily on economically and ecologically important species, mostly those found along the west coast of the United States. Their research often relies on the examination of animal hard parts, including scales, otoliths, vertebrae, and shells. Referred to as "biogeochemical markers," these structures are rich stores of data about individuals that allow researchers to determine how environmental variation and climate change can affect the life histories of fish and invertebrates, with an eye towards how that information can inform management. All of this research comes together to inform sound conservation and management strategies of our marine resources.
Jessica’s lab also had the opportunity to study hundreds of coastal species that arrived on Agate Beach in Newport, Oregon, after the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. Many organisms that crossed the Pacific Ocean on the tsunami debris arrived on beaches along the west coast of North America and the Hawaiian Archipelago alive, which provided Jessica and her colleagues with the unique opportunity to look at how marine debris could disperse organisms around the globe in the future and evaluate some of the potential ecological impacts of such events.
PI Contact: Jessica Miller
Our lab uses a variety of quantitative and empirical tools to investigate the dynamics of marine populations and communities across a range of spatial and temporal scales.
The overall goal of the lab is to investigate factors affecting the population dynamics of marine fisheries across spatial scales. Consequently we work on topics ranging from small scales, focused on individual behavioral decisions (e.g., how do predators choose patches of prey?), to large scales, dealing with the influence of larval dispersal, oceanographic conditions, and fishery management strategies on source-sink dynamics, fishery productivity, and the design of marine protected areas. In all of these efforts, we utilize quantitative approaches that allow us to “scale up” small-scale processes to examine their population-level consequences and vice versa.
Current research topics in our lab include the effects of size-selective mortality on the population dynamics of sex-changing fish, the role of nonconsumptive (fear) effects of predators on oyster populations, and methods to detect short-term changes in the size structure of fish populations due to changes in fishery management.
PI Contact: Will White
The GEMM Lab focuses on the ecology, behavior, health, and conservation of marine megafauna, including cetaceans, pinnipeds, seabirds, and sharks. We aim to fill knowledge gaps about species ecology, health, and distribution patterns so that conservation efforts can be more directed and effective at reducing space-use conflicts with human activities.
We work closely with partners and stakeholders to fully understand issues and needs, and prioritize communication of our work and findings through a variety of formal and informal outlets.
PI Contact: Leigh Torres
The Aquatic Animal Health Program (AAHP) supports various captive aquatic animal stakeholders, including the aquarium fish industry, research enterprises, aquaculture, and educational institutions in domestic and international settings.
PI Contact: Tim Miller-Morgan
The Marine Resources Program (MRP) is ODFW’s home for management of fish and wildlife species and habitats in the ocean, bays, and estuaries. Based in Newport with field offices in Astoria, Charleston, and Brookings, MRP staff are responsible for the monitoring, sampling, research, and management of commercial and sport marine fisheries and associated marine habitats. In addition to our fisheries-focused work, MRP is engaged in a wide variety of research, management, and policy actions about all aspects of ocean use and conservation.
Developing Methods to Improve Survival and Maximize Productivity and Sustainability of Pacific Shellfish Aquaculture
PI Contact: Brett Dumbauld