Our Science program conducts research and draws together the best available information, so that we and our partners can best conserve and sustainably use the North Pacific’s wild salmon ecosystems. We take a networked approach to science, collaborating with scientists, institutions, nonprofit partners, and citizens around the Pacific Rim.
Conservation design of North Pacific salmon stronghold networks
Wild Salmon Center and partners are developing and implementing strategies for protecting networks of wild Pacific salmon strongholds – those relatively intact watersheds that represent current centers of salmon abundance and diversity. We are applying a new scientific framework, which includes climate change and other factors, in order to prioritize those strongholds that will conserve high levels of contemporary Pacific salmon diversity and abundance. We are also exploring methods to assess the sensitivity of stronghold rivers to climate change impacts and the implications for conservation.
Pacific salmon ecosystems in a changing climate
Science is proving that salmon strongholds are a key front in the fight against climate change. Our Resilience Framework is a foundational tool for salmon conservationists to better understand local risks and opportunities and identify strategic restoration actions in their communities. Wild Salmon Center and partners are working to understand how climate-induced change – such as wildfire, drought, and flooding – are impacting Pacific salmon ecosystems. We are just beginning to understand how different salmon ecosystems respond to disturbance, and to identify physical and biological features of salmon ecosystems that can buffer against the effects of climate-induced disturbance.
Learn more about our work on climate adaptation, river resilience, and download our report Ready for Change: A framework to promote climate resilience in salmon strongholds.
Pacific salmon life history diversity and population resiliency
WSC is working with partners in Russia, Canada, and the United States to understand the incredible diversity of Pacific salmon life histories – those unique development and migration patterns that vary across populations and places. Protecting life history diversity is known to be important for sustaining Pacific salmon populations through challenges such as industrial development, climate change, and natural environmental variation. We are working with our partners to understand how genetic, demographic, and environmental processes create diversity within and between salmon populations, so that these key processes can be protected.
WSC is working with partners in Japan and the Russian Far East for the conservation of taimen, a group of species that are among the largest and most endangered salmonids in the world. These research efforts are focused on three separate areas:
- Understanding extinction risk and describing ecological and genetic differences among groups of key river populations within their natural range.
- Describing migration and life history patterns.
- Carrying out river expeditions to identify key habitats (particularly spawning habitat) and developing methods to estimate adult population abundance to provide a baseline for our conservation work.
The Jack Polsky Conservation Research Fellowship
The Jack Polsky Conservation Research Fellowship supports early-in-career, post-doctoral scientists in the field of coldwater fish conservation. Polsky Fellowships provide up to two years of support for highly skilled PhD graduates to conduct applied conservation research that addresses the urgent challenges facing Pacific salmon. The Fellowship works in collaboration with researchers and conservation professionals around the North Pacific Rim to tackle critical issues facing Pacific salmon and to train the next generation of conservation science leaders.