2022 Academic Partners

Canadian Coast Guard

Principal Investigators, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students at Canadian universities have partnered with Canadian government scientists on several projects as part of the 2022 IYS Pan-Pacific Winter High Seas Expedition. They will explore oceanography, eDNA, salmon diets, acoustics, salmon migration routes and much more. You can read more about the projects and the people involved below. These projects were made possible by funding provided by the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund.

Chemical Oceanography

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Principal Investigator: Jay Cullen (University of Victoria) 

Collaborators: Andrew Ross (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), Angelica Pena (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) 

Postdoctoral Fellow: Richard L. Nixon 

Project Dates: April 15, 2021 – April 15, 2023

Project Title: Linking salmon survival to climate change and its impact on primary production via nutrient and metal ligand distributions in the North Pacific

Project Summary:

Phytoplankton form the basis of the marine food web and influence the amount of prey available to salmon in the North Pacific Ocean. They require small amounts of iron, copper and other metals to sustain photosynthesis and other biological processes. The subarctic Northeast Pacific is an area of the ocean where the amounts of iron in seawater can be low enough to limit phytoplankton growth. In addition, stratification caused by warming sea surface temperatures (e.g. during the 2014 marine heat wave) can cut off the supply of essential trace metals to phytoplankton, affecting plankton growth and ecology. Recent studies also suggest that phytoplankton produce metal-binding compounds, called ligands, to regulate uptake of these metals. The project will build on this research by documenting the spatial distribution of metal-binding ligands and possibly trace metals across the Northeastern Pacific, including areas important to the survival of migrating salmon, using samples collected on the IYS 2022 Pan-Pacific Winter High Seas ExpeditionThese results will be combined with chemical, physical and biological data gathered by other IYS investigators to obtain a better understanding of how processes like stratification, acidification, ocean fertilization and climate change impact the salmon food web through their effects on the binding of trace metals and the availability of nutrients to phytoplankton. 

Born and raised in the south of England, Andrew has always been fascinated by the ocean but first became interested in environmental analytical chemistry while studying for a B.Sc. (Hons.) in Chemistry at the University of Surrey. A visit to the DFO Institute of Ocean Sciences (IOS) in Sidney, BC during an international co-op work term inspired him to pursue a Ph.D. in Analytical and Marine Chemistry at UBC in Vancouver. He then spent nine years with the National Research Council of Canada, leading research in proteomics and bioanalytical mass spectrometry at the Plant Biotechnology Institute in Saskatoon, SK. In 2008 Dr. Ross returned to IOS where, as a DFO Research Scientist, he develops and uses analytical methods to study the climate-related impacts of trace metals, metal-binding ligands, and harmful algae on the health and productivity of marine fisheries and ecosystems. An Adjunct Professor in Biochemistry and Microbiology at the University of Victoria since 2011, Dr. Ross is currently vice-chair of the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) committee on Marine Environmental Quality and a member of the UNESCO-IOC International Group for Marine Ecological Time Series. 

Angelica is a Research Scientist at the Institute of Ocean Sciences, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in Sidney, BC. Her research focuses primarily on understanding the effects of natural variability and climate change on phytoplankton ecology and biogeochemical cycles. She develops regional ocean circulation-biogeochemical models and use long-term observations to study the impacts of natural variability and climate change on ocean productivity and biogeochemistry of the northeast Pacific.

Dr. Richard L. Nixon is a fellow and sessional instructor in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at his alma mater, the University of Victoria (BSc Microbiology; PhD Biochemistry). A lifelong ecologist, Richard is interminably awestruck by the natural world. His research focuses on productivity of marine microbes related to biogeochemical cycling of trace metals, particularly the micronutrient copper. He has developed experimental protocols for the recovery and analysis of trace organic compounds which potentially impact the distribution, composition, and productivity of natural algal blooms.  

Dr. Jay T. Cullen grew up in the Kawartha Lakes area of central Ontario and developed an interest in lakes and oceans early on. He took his BSc (Honours) in Biology from McGill University and PhD in Chemical Oceanography from Rutgers University. He has been a Professor in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria since 2003. He has helped to develop sensitive analytical techniques to measure metals and contaminants in natural waters. Through analytical chemistry, radioisotope tracer studies and collaboration with microbial physiologists, his research program aims to understand the distribution, chemical speciation and fate of metals in the ocean and the influence of human activities on the health of marine ecosystems. Cullen has received the Craigdarroch Research Award for Excellence in Knowledge Mobilization and was named Provost’s Engaged Scholar in 2017 by the University acknowledging his efforts in community outreach, education and engagement. 

Biological Oceanography

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Principal Investigator: Evgeny Pakhomov  

Collaborators: Brian Hunt (University of British Columbia), Moira Galbraith (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), Brett Johnson (Hakai Institute, to be confirmed), Tim Van Der Stap (Hakai Institute), Maycira Costa (University of Victoria) 

Postdoctoral Fellow: Elliott Price

Project Dates: August 1, 2021 – July 31, 2023

Project Title North Pacific Zooplankton Ecology


Project Summary:

All Pacific salmon are dependent on zooplankton resources for growth, health and survival, consuming them both directly and indirectly via micronekton. The biomass, composition and distribution of zooplankton are therefore contributing factors in changing salmon productivity. This project will investigate several key aspects of zooplankton ecology in the North Pacific and develop zooplankton resources in support of salmon research, including spatial multivariate analyses of winter zooplankton communities, linking plankton biomass to physical, chemical, and satellite data; curation and standardization of multi-national historical zooplankton datasets from Canadian, US, Japanese, and Russian sources; analysis of long-term change in zooplankton biomass and community composition in the North Pacific; and comparison of core net sampling gears (vertical and oblique Bongo nets, MOCNESS and JUDAY nets) using existing datasets from NPAFC member countries, as well as new data from the 2019, 2020, and 2022 IYS Expeditions 

Dr. Evgeny Pakhomov is a Professor at the Department of Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences and at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia in Canada. A graduate of the Russian Academy of Sciences, he has more than 35 years of research experience as a biological oceanographer. His research focuses on understanding physical-biological interactions and ecosystem response to climate change, from the Antarctic to coastal British Columbia and from coastal realms to the high seas. His research interests span species ecology (plankton to fish), ecosystem structure, function and biochemical coupling. Dr. Pakhomov has disseminated his work in more than 250 publications. 


Brian Hunt is an Assistant Professor at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia. A biological oceanographer by training, Brian has broad interests in the structure and function of pelagic marine ecosystems, with a particular focus on food web dynamics, their response to climate forcing and anthropogenic impacts, and connection to ecosystem nutritional health. Hailing from South Africa, Brian has conducted research from the poles to tropics. Since 2008, his research has centered on the northeast Pacific, and specifically connectivity across the land / sea and shelf / off-shelf interfaces, and implications for salmon food webs.  

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Dr. Maycira Costa is a professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Victoria with over 20 years of experience developing remote sensing technology for marine science. She has an MSc in remote sensing and marine science from the Brazilian Institute of Space Science and a Ph.D. in remote sensing and geography from UVic. She derives high-resolution spatial and temporal data of coastal British Columbia from autonomous field sensors and remote sensing technologyTo improve satellite-derived chlorophyll-a accuracy in coastal waters, Maycira deployed the first fully autonomous above-water reflectance sensors aboard ships of opportunityconducting a holistic analysis of satellite-derived phytoplankton dynamics and physical forcing on the west coast of Canada. Maycira is an advisor to several international space agencies on oceanographic satellite missions and national and international initiatives such as the Canadian Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Response; Canadian Network of Coastal, Oceans, Lake Optics Remote Sensing; and the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project. 

Biological Oceanography

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Principal Investigator: Maycira Costa 

Collaborators: Brian Hunt (University of British Columbia), Toru Hirawake (Hokkaido University), Angelica Pena (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) 

Postdoctoral Fellow: Marta Konik  

Project Dates: August 1, 2021 – July 31, 2023

Project Title: Satellite-Based Long-Term Bioregionalization and Phytoplankton Phenology of the pan-North Pacific

Project Summary:

Understanding the relationship between environmental drivers, ocean dynamics, and salmon stocks is very important. For instance, the synchronicity in the timing of phytoplankton and zooplankton blooms and juvenile salmon migration periods has been shown to be highly variable, a result of the responses to physical drivers at different scales. In general, a “mismatch” year, where blooms occur either earlier or later than usual, may result in less or lower quality prey available for juvenile salmon, which decreases the chance of successful recruitment. In the North Pacific Oceanthere is limited data on the distribution patterns of salmon and responses to biological and physical forcing. This project aims to use 24 years (1997 to present) of satellite imagery and 2019, 2020, and 2022 IYS Expedition data from the pan-North Pacific to document the spatial phenology of phytoplankton and identify associated bioregions (i.e., geographically discrete regions with similar temporal phytoplankton phenology), and responses to physical forcing at different time scales. Specifically, this project will document the phenology of phytoplankton at monthly (or bi-weekly), seasonal, and interannual time scalesand associated bioregionalization of extracted chlorophyll-a concentrations from satellite imagery. These satellite data will be cross validated from field samples collected during IYS Expeditions and other data available from international partnersThese bioregional dynamics will be compared to physical driversand the phenology of satellite-derived chlorophylla compared with zooplankton phenology and biomass. 

Toru Hirawake is a professor at National Institute of Polar Research in Tokyo. He also belongs to the Graduate University for Advanced Studies, SOKENDAI, and teaches satellite oceanography in polar seas. He began his study at the Tokyo University of Fisheries (currently Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology) and took PhD in Science in Nagoya University. His expertise are on marine optics and its application to ocean color remote sensing such as detection of change in primary production, particularly in polar and sub-polar seas. He is an algorithm developer for the satellite ocean color sensor SGLI/GCOM-C of JAXA and in charge of algorithms of primary production and size distribution of phytoplankton.

Salmon Genomics & Stock ID

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Principal Investigator: Andrew Bateman (Pacific Salmon Foundation)

Collaborators: Kristina Miller-Saunders (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

Postdoctoral Fellow: Christoph Deeg 

Project Dates: Ongoing, IYS funding supporting February 1, 2022 – April 30, 2023 

Project TitleExploring the Salmosphere in the High Seas with Genomic Tools 

Project Summary:

Quantitative detection of nucleic acids of infectious agents and host gene expression biomarkers allows high throughput screening of salmon stress and disease at an unprecedented resolution. High throughput qPCR screening of 47 infectious agents, including viruses, bacteria, and protist and fungal parasites, from fish tissues will be conducted. This project will utilize new salmon Fit-Chip technology, which are curated host biomarker panels, to identify the presence of a large range of stressors, diseases, and other signatures associated with poor salmon survival. Preliminary analyses on salmon caught in the IYS 2019 International Gulf of Alaska Expedition revealed 21 pathogens and newly discovered viruses in coho, chum, pink, and sockeye salmon. This genomic research will provide a comprehensive overview of the health and condition of Pacific salmon in the high seas, which will provide key insights into the factors and mechanisms controlling survival and abundance, and identify the key stressors and pathogens impacting salmon health and condition and how these are distributed across the North Pacific among salmon species. 

Environmental DNA (eDNA) is an emerging field to study the diversity and distribution of aquatic communities without the need to capture individuals. This allows for an unbiased account of low abundance species or species that are difficult to capture, such as large, highly mobile predators. eDNA samples will be collected onboard the 2022 IYS Expedition to analyze for the presence of chordates, cephalopods, and invertebrates to complement catch data from the Expedition. The eDNA data will provide an unbiased approach to document the spatial and temporal variation in distribution, condition, and standing stocks of zooplankton, nekton as well as competitors and predators of salmon. Furthermore, this technology might allow for future low-impact biodiversity assessments using remotely operated sampling equipment. The preliminary eDNA results from the IYS 2019 and 2020 International Gulf of Alaska Expeditions have revealed several potential salmon predators in the survey zone, including orcas, salmon sharks and porpoises. 

Dr. Andrew Bateman is a quantitative ecologist with a background in mathematics and biology, he uses mathematical and statistical models, combined with data, to answer questions about ecology, conservation, and evolution. His current work focuses on the epidemiology of infectious disease on Atlantic salmon farms in BC, Canada.  He works as a research associate with the Pacific Salmon Foundation‘s Strategic Salmon Health Initiative.  The project runs in partnership with Kristi Miller at Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Pacific Biological Station.  Using data generated with high-throughput genetic screening technology, developed for use in salmon by the Miller lab, he investigates disease progression in salmon farms and associated risks to nearby populations of wild Pacific salmon. He also collaborates with a number of researchers to investigate demography, evolution, spatial patterns, and behaviour in species ranging from copepods to bears.  Ongoing projects include the demography and population biology of social mammals (killer whales and meerkats) and population biology of wild salmon on the BC coast.

Kristi has overseen a diverse molecular genetics research program within DFO for 20 years. The overarching goal of her program is the development and application of molecular genetic tools that can be applied towards sustainable fisheries management and aquaculture development of aquatic species. Much of Dr. Miller’s program has focused on adaptive genetic and phenotypic variation. Her lab has conducted extensive genetic research on major histocompatibility complex (MHC). These genes play a critical role in pathogen recognition in acquired immunity and are under strong selection pressure to maintain diversity; populations with low levels of diversity at MHC may carry a greater risk of extirpation when exposed to novel infectious diseases. Her research on MHC revealed species-wide patterns of diversity of MHC in sockeye and coho salmon, information that has been incorporated into the genetic stock ID program, and has identified susceptibility alleles for specific pathogens.

Dr. Christoph Deeg is a biologist from Germany. He earned his PhD at the University of British Columbia exploring parasitoid interactions in aquatic microorganisms at the base of the food web. More recently, he decided to apply his molecular and computational skillset and enthusiasm for fieldwork to the management and conservation of Pacific salmon. Christoph partook in the 2019 IYS Gulf of Alaska expedition and acted as chief scientist and project manager for the 2020 expedition. He is exploring salmon health using molecular tools, is conduction environmental DNA research, as well as developing mobile genetic stock identification methods.  

Salmon Distribution, Abundance, and Migration

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Principal Investigator: Francis Juanes 

Collaborators: Tanya Brown (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), Joshua Chamberlin (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association), and Lance Campbell (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife) 

Graduate Student: Micah Quindazzi 

Project Dates: April 1, 2021 – March 31, 2023 

Project TitleOtolith microchemical markers of Pacific salmon high seas migration 

Project Summary:

This project aims to identify the microchemistry markers within the otoliths of Chinook and coho salmon from biogeochemical regions across the North Pacific Ocean. Reference salmon caught in various regions across the North Pacific during the IYS Expedition will have their otoliths used to characterize the microchemical signals (trace elements, and carbon and oxygen stable isotopes) of said regionThese can be used as a reference to determine the marine migration history of adult salmon returning to rivers by examining their otolith microchemistry. Essentially, this project aims to produce a universal method by which any Chinook or coho, whether wild or hatchery, can have their marine migration history identified, which will allow us to determine the marine regions of greatest concern when conserving important salmon stocks. This project will also assess the early marine growth of these salmon to identify how environmental conditions in the first year at sea influence the marine migration pathway undertaken.  

Dr. Francis Juanes is Liber Ero Chair for Fisheries Research at the University of Victoria where he leads the Fisheries Ecology and Marine Conservation Lab. His main research interests are the behaviour, ecology, and evolution of both fishes and marine invertebrates. Relevant to salmon, Dr. Juanes is pursuing a variety of projects concerned with recruitment variability, marine survival over the different stages of life, and the evolution of different life history strategies such as marine migration pathways. 

Dr. Tanya Brown is a Research Scientist at Fisheries and Oceans Canada in West Vancouver with the Ocean Sciences Division. She has been studying marine mammals and marine mammal ecotoxicology since 2005. Her past research has focused in large part on understanding the influence of habitat use and feeding ecology that drive contaminant exposure in ringed seals and the impacts on their health. Previous work also included assessing the effects of climate change on Arctic marine ecosystems and developing marine benthic habitat classification schemes for areas of value to Inuit in Nunatsiavut.

Joshua Chamberlin began working with NWFSC in 2005. His interests are grounded in the behavior and ecology of juvenile salmon in estuarine and nearshore marine habitats. Joshua earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Prescott College (’04) and an M.S. in Fisheries Science from the University of Washington (’09). Joshua’s current research includes monitoring and evaluating estuarine restoration projects and investigating mechanisms related to early marine survival of juvenile salmon in Puget Sound.

Micah Quindazzi is a PhD student with Dr. Francis Juanes at the University of Victoria. His main research interests are otolith microchemistry, morphometrics, and aging. Micah’s PhD research revolves around collecting Chinook and Coho Salmon from various marine regions across the Pacific Northwest to create baseline microchemical signals that can be used to identify the marine migration pathways of escapements caught inriver. He hopes to look at the factors influencing these marine migration pathways, and to look at the distribution and loading of contaminants from these different regions. 

Salmon Feeding Ecology & Energetics

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Principal Investigator: Brian Hunt  

Collaborators: Evgeny Pakhomov (University of British Columbia), Chrys Neville (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), and Ian Forster (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) 

Postdoctoral Fellow: Genyffer Troina

Project Dates: August 1, 2021 – July 31, 2023

Project Title: North Pacific Salmon Food Webs


Project Summary:

Foraging ecology is a critical factor in salmon growth and survival on the high seas, and the winter period is expected to be particularly stressful since this is when ocean productivity is at its lowest. Since 2013, we have entered into unchartered waters in the North Pacific, with intense heat wave activity potentially leading to shifts in the structure of the food webs that support salmon. The IYS sample sets from the 2019, 2020, and 2022 Expeditions provide the opportunity to develop a comprehensive understanding of overall food web structure, salmon feeding biology (prey, trophic niche, competition), and to correlate these with salmon health. This project will combine the biochemical approaches of stable isotopes and fatty acids with stomach content data to resolve the food web dynamics and trophic pathways, e.g., the importance of the coastal vs offshore and mesopelagic vs. epipelagic resources to salmon in the Gulf of AlaskaAnalysis of Pacific salmon stable isotope, fatty acid and stomach content data will inform species’ trophic niche and dietary overlap. Through size and stock specific analyses, we will better understand life history dynamics in the Gulf of Alaska, including age-based shifts in diets and large-scale movement dynamics. Finally, we will assess the role of foraging ecology and life history parameters in Pacific salmon health. The established trophic structure will provide an empirical framework for ecosystem model development. 

Chrys Neville is a research biologist and the Head of the Salmon Marine Interactions Program in the Regional Ecosystem Effects on Fish & Fisheries Section, Ecosystem Science Division at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo. Chrys has over 25 experience leading field research programs studying the marine ecology of juvenile Pacific salmon. She has published and presented numerous papers on salmon ecology and the effects of climate on regional ecosystems and residency of juvenile salmon. Chrys became a biologist due to her love of the outdoors, nature and adventure. She joined the expedition for these reasons and the ability to learn something new about species that she has studied for many years. She comments that over the past 25 years there have been many changes and new approaches developed in fisheries research but the one thing that is unchanged is the necessity to actually go in the field and see first hand what is happening . “The changes that continuously occur between seasons, years or regions always amaze me and without being in the field and observing first hand, many of the subtle changes or shifts would be missed,” she says, “yet these changes may be the best clues to understanding the declines or shifts in salmon productivity”.

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Genyffer is a biologist interested in the trophic ecology and habitat use of marine top predators. She has been applying natural chemical tracers, such as carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes, to study the feeding habits, inter-specific trophic interactions and habitat use of cetaceans, as well as the food webs that sustain these marine apex predators. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, at the Pelagic Ecosystems Lab, working with Dr. Brian Hunt in the IYS food web data. Their main goal is to investigate the trophic pathways that sustain salmon in the high seas, potentially affecting their productivity. She will be analysing the stable isotope and fatty acid compositions of different organisms comprising the pelagic food webs throughout the North Pacific, to assess how spatial patterns in the trophic structure of the food webs reflect oceanographic conditions.

Physical Oceanography

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Principal Investigator: Jody Klymak 

Collaborators: Tetjana Ross (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), Stephanie Waterman (University of British Columbia), Roberta Hamme (University of Victoria), Amber Holdsworth (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) 

Postdoctoral Fellow: Bernie Yang

Project Dates: December 1, 2021 – October 31, 2023

Project Title: Observing Physical Characteristics of the Upper Ocean in the Northeast Pacific

Project Summary:

There are substantial resources available to understand the state of the North Pacific and its relation to salmon and other fish stocks.  The IYS Expeditions will be collecting CTD/Rosette data, yielding information about upper ocean physical, chemical, and optical properties. This project will couple these measurements with satellite colour, altimetry, and sea surface temperature measurements derived from existing autonomous platforms to construct a synoptic picture of the North Pacific OceanThe North Pacific Argo floats will be used to understand hydrographic properties on a large scale. Specialized Argo floats equipped with oxygen sensors will be deployed during the IYS cruise.  Finally, Line P data, collected from both the regular research cruises and from autonomous gliders moving along Line P, will give us a detailed picture of the upper ocean.  If possible, we will also send a glider from the IYS Expedition to complete a north-south section through the planned Gulf of Alaska sampling array.  Both glider deployments will measure temperature, salinity, oxygen, and chlorophyll in the upper 1000 m of the ocean. A large integrative data set like this will help to address a wide variety of questions including: what processes regulate the mixed layer depth and resulting habitat for salmon offshore, what processes drive restratification in the spring and what role does that play in nutrient and oxygen flux in the upper ocean?, how does warm, coastal, nutrient-rich water mix in the Gulf of Alaska, and do Northeast Pacific Ocean models replicate observed stratification and transport processes? All of these questions are directly linked to the availability and suitability of fish habitat through their physical/chemical environment and indirectly through ocean productivity, which is linked to food sources for fish and their survival. 

Dr. Jody Klymak is a Professor of Ocean Physics at the University of Victoria, BC.  He studies ocean mixing and circulation using innovative observational methods and idealized modelling. 

Tetjana Ross is a Research Scientist at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. She is an observational oceanographer, focusing on assessing change in the Northeast Pacific. She mostly observes the ocean by sending robots out to do the work. These robots, autonomous ocean floats and gliders, send back observations of temperature, salinity, oxygen and chlorophyll, which she uses to monitor marine heatwaves, study eddies carrying coastal waters far into the deep ocean and assess long term oxygen loss in the Northeast Pacific.

Dr. Roberta Hamme, Canada Research Chair in Ocean Carbon Dynamics, studies the complexities of the ocean carbon cycle in order to predict future changes. Dr. Hamme’s research analyzes the biological transformation of carbon, the chemical balance of its different forms and the physics of how oceans move. The effects of biological, chemical and physical processes on carbon compete against each other and are hard to separate. Dr. Hamme teases these effects apart by making highly precise measurements of dissolved gases like oxygen, and inert gases like argon, krypton and xenon. Dr. Hamme uses these measurements to differentiate biology from physics and to understand how carbon responds to the same processes. Oxygen, for example, can be used to quantify biological productivity in the oceans, while inert gases offer insights into physical processes, as their patterns have no biological response and are caused by physics alone. This research will uncover the secrets of how carbon moves through the oceans—and how this may change—leading to better future predictions of climate change.

Dr. Amber Holdsworth specializes in using mathematical methods to understand the physical processes of the climate system. She has an extensive background in the areas of geophysical fluid dynamics, oceanography, and boundary layer meteorology using a wide range of techniques including laboratory experiments, multi-scale analysis, partial differential equations, dynamical systems theory, non-linear interactions, large-scale ocean modelling and idealized process modelling. She is interested in how physics acting across spatial and temporal scales in the atmosphere and ocean interact and influence climate from the smallest scales that must be parameterized in models, to intermediate scales that are  partially resolved, to the large scale motions that tend to be well captured by models.

Bernie currently works as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Victoria as part of the Canadian-Pacific Robotic Ocean Observing Facility (C-PROOF) group. His primary interests are using data from underwater gliders to explore the eddy stratification mixing processes in the North Pacific Ocean, specifically the offshore dynamics of the Haida eddies. He is also interested in the resulting implications on the oxygen, nutrient transport, and salmon habitat. Prior to joining as a postdoctoral fellow, Bernie completed his BSc in Mathematics at McGill University, and subsequently his PhD in physics at the University of Toronto, where he focused on using high frequency observational data in ice-covered lakes to understand the under-ice vertical convection.


Eiko Jones Photography

Principal Investigator: John Dower (University of Victoria) 

Collaborators: Stephane Gauthier (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), Akash Sastri (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), and Jackie King (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) 

Graduate Student: Nicolas Ens 

Project Dates: May 1, 2021 – March 31, 2023

Project TitleCorrelating Multi-Frequency Acoustic Backscatter with Net Capture Data to Assess the Distribution and Variability of Salmon and their Prey 

Project Summary:

This project will focus on integrating the multi-frequency acoustic backscatter with net capture data to assess the distribution and variability of salmon, salmon prey, and associated fauna at a high spatial resolution along the IYS 2022 Expedition track. The multi-frequency acoustic data will first be partitioned into distinct backscattering groups, including swim bladder-bearing fish, other gas-bearing organisms, krill and krill-like aggregations, and zooplankton layers. Samples from net data (surface trawl, bongo vertical profiles, and MOCNESS stratified tows) will be used to further link backscatter data to species and investigate potential acoustic signatures of salmon aggregations in the upper water column, as well as prey availability. Variability in backscatter and potential biological hotspots will be examined through the water column, from the near-surface to deep scattering layers (~400-500 m depth) to assess spatial and environmental correlations, as well as potential for vertical energy transfer. Regional differences (or lack thereof) in abundance and productivity of salmon and salmon prey will be examined with physical processes in mind to identify factors that may explain observed distribution patterns. This comprehensive dataset will offer a unique opportunity to look at salmon and salmon habitat at high spatial resolution over a large area and gradient of physical processes.  

Dr. John Dower is a marine biologist and professor at the University of Victoria. The underlying goal of his research is to understand how interactions between biology and physics regulate the structure and function of planktonic marine ecosystems. His research focuses on fundamental biological questions: Why are shallow seamounts so productive?  Are larval fish food-limited?  What factors drive variability in the production of zooplankton?  He approaches these questions from a biophysical perspective: how do these animals interact with the physical environment, and how does environmental variability influence their distribution, growth and survival? 

Dr. Stéphane Gauthier is a research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. His main research focus is using acoustics (the transmission and interpretation of signals from scientific echosounders) to gain insight into ecosystem processes. Before joining Fisheries and Oceans Canada in 2011 he was a fisheries scientist with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research in New Zealand, where his work took him from the Arabian Sea to the Antarctic Ocean.  Stéphane holds a Ph.D. from Memorial University of Newfoundland, and did postdoctoral work at the University of Washington and Université de Montréal. For this scientific mission he is interested in the spatial variability of acoustic backscatter, and understanding how oceanographic conditions and pathways affect the distribution of pelagic organisms.

Dr. Jackie King is the Program Head of the Basin and Coastal-scale Interactions program with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.  Her research investigates linkages between basin-scale processes and coastal-scale ecosystems including climate forcing, large-scale oceanographic processes, and connectivity in large marine ecosystems. She collaborates in integrative pelagic field studies along the continental shelf, with her primary focus on understanding the factors controlling the abundance, distribution, and production of salmon and associated species in marine ecosystems.  She is also the lead for the Canadian Pacific Shark Research Program and responsible for all Canadian Pacific elasmobranch research and conservation. 

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