Source: OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY submitted to
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Feb 1, 2003
Project End Date
Sep 30, 2007
Grant Year
Project Director
Fleming, I. A.
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
Non Technical Summary
There is a need to greatly improve our ability to predict future behavior of fish populations in changing environments and during exploitation. There is also growing awareness that deliberate releases of cultured fish for stocking may be ineffective and that unintentional releases from aquaculture may be detrimental. The work is applied to evaluate and improve fishery management: (1) by understanding the determinants of population sustainability; and (2) by identifying the ecological consequences of the release of artificially cultured fish.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
The research program focuses on marine and diadromous fish ecology, with a particular focus on salmonids. It encompasses both fundamental and applied aspects of fish ecology, integrating perspectives from ecology and evolution with fisheries management and conservation biology. The work is applied to evaluate and improve fishery management in marine and freshwater ecosystems. There are two overriding themes to the research program: 1)The role of behavioral and life history diversity in the dynamics of fish populations, particularly as it applies to their sustainability; and 2)Ecological consequences of the artificial culture and release of fish, both intentionally and unintentionally. Each theme is divided into a series of sub-themes or projects. Sub-theme 1.1. Behavioral and life history diversity within and among salmonid population: The objective is to quantify the role of estuaries in the life history of salmon, and how estuarine use patterns of salmonids may be related to their earlier freshwater phase. Sub-theme 1.2. Habitat associations and life history of Pacific coast groundfish: The work is designed to be pluralistic, involving observations from natural systems, experimental manipulations in nature, and laboratory experiments where more detailed behavioral data can be obtained while controlling for potential confounding parameters. Establish rockfish associations with abiotic and biotic factors at a micro-habitat scale and examine the top down effects of species interactions on the recruitment of juvenile rockfish. Sub-theme 1.3. Breeding system diversity and maternal effects within fishes: An aim is to test both at the species and population levels whether stability (resilience) are species specific, whether stability depends on breeding system and population size, and whether fecundity and/or egg size influences population stability. A second objective is to examine the role of maternal effects in offspring performance and how the breeding system shapes maternal traits such as egg size. Sub-theme 2.1. The ability of hatchery fish to contribute to the natural productivity of wild populations: The overall objective is to understand the determinants of reproductive success and offspring performance of hatchery fish in relation to their ability to contribute to the natural productivity of wild populations, while minimizing genetic and ecological impacts. Sub-theme 2.2. Interaction between aquaculture and wild fish populations: To quantify ecological and genetic effects of interactions between wild and farm salmon, and their implications for the long-term productivity, composition and diversity of salmon populations.
Project Methods
The research encompasses a range of approaches from controlled laboratory experiments to large-scale field experiments, as well as more theoretical approaches including comparative analyses at the species and higher taxonomic levels. Sub-theme 1.1. Our approach to studying estuarine behavioral and life history diversity focuses on the accumulation of individual-based data necessary to address the complex structure of salmon life histories. Insights will be derived from the patterns of individual habitat use and changes in "status" (e.g., size, growth, condition) as determinants of the life history decisions made by the fish occupying marsh-channel networks. Sub-theme 1.2. The work involves observations from natural systems, experimental manipulations in nature, and laboratory experiments where more detailed behavioral data can be obtained while controlling for potential confounding parameters. First, video recordings from habitat research will be reviewed to determine rockfish-substrate asssociations. Second, juvenile rockfish habitat preferences for micro-scale abiotic and biotic factors will be tested using replicated experiments in the laboratory where habitats can be manipulated. Third, predatory interactions between juvenile ling cod (Ophiodon elongates) and juvenile rockfish will be assessed by combining field observations/sampling with laboratory experiments examining detailed behavioral interactions. Sub-theme 1.3. A series of phylogenetically-based comparative studies will be undertaken to assess the relation between salmon population stability and life history diversity within populations, and to assess patterns of egg size variation within teleosts in relation to the strength of the influence of maternal phenotype on offspring environment. Finally, experimental studies will be undertaken to examine the roles of egg size on offspring fitness and the relationship between phenotypic diversity within populations and their dynamics. Sub-theme 2.1. The objective will be achieved by generating basic information on i) individual genotypic and phenotypic variation in hatchery fish and its relation to growth and survival during different life stages and in different environments, ii) the genetic dynamics of hybridization and introgression, iii) the existence of local adaptation and how it may be affected by different types of stocking, and iv) the outcome (in terms of productivity and genetic diversity) of different husbandry routines in the hatchery and different stocking strategies. The information will be generated through laboratory and field experiments, as well as theoretical studies. Sub-theme 2.2. Our approach to addressing this aim is pluralistic combining experimental and field studies, ecological and genetic factors, and spatial and temporal scales. Tightly controlled and replicated experiments will be used to test focused hypotheses about the mechanisms and consequences of competition and outbreeding, and broad field surveys will be important in placing the results into an appropriate context for resource managers.

Progress 02/01/03 to 09/30/07

The principal investigator for this project has accepted a position in St. Johns, Newfoundland (Canada).

The principal investigator for this project has accepted a position in St. Johns, Newfoundland (Canada).


  • No publications reported this period

Progress 01/01/03 to 12/31/03

Over the past year, the laboratory has continued to develop its research, including collaborations with various universities (national and international) and government agencies (national and international). A number of proposals were submitted, with several being supported. Moreover, our program now includes a significant component of research on West Coast groundfish. Our aquarium facility was completed, allowing us to initiate a number of experimental studies. There has been considerable activity in the research group. Six students have ongoing projects: (1) Jacki Richards is writing up her research on the life history and demography of dogfish sharks; (2) Marion Mann is examining videos from ROV surveys to quantify juvenile rockfish habitat associations and has begun laboratory experiments; (3) Lisa Krentz (co-supervision, USGS) just completed a second successful research season studying the estuarine life history patterns of cutthroat trout; (4) Lance Campbell (co-supervision, NOAA Fisheries) is working on changes in the life history patterns of chinook salmon in the Columbia River estuary using historic and current day scale samples; (5) Dave Hering (co-supervision, NOAA Fisheries) is researching the behavioral patterns of coastal estuarine exploitation by chinook salmon; and (6) Julie Henning (co-supervision, USGS) is researching the role of seasonal floodplain wetlands as rearing habit for fishes. Dr. Yusuke Koseki from Hokkaido University just completed a year of postdoctoral studies in the laboratory where he examined patterns of jacking in Oregon coho from an evolutionary perspective, using both hatchery and wild return data. Two students joined the laboratory this past fall (2003): (1) Jena Lemke (co-supervision, NOAA Fisheries) will be studying low relief structure and habitat associations in North Pacific flatfishes; and (2) Megan Petrie (co-supervision, NOAA Fisheries) will be researching the shifting niche of young-of-the-year lingcod. We published seven peer-reviewed articles from the latter half of 2002 until now (November 2003); and have three others accepted for publication. Our research was also presented at a variety of scientific and public forums. In addition, Ian Fleming anonymously co-authored a book published by the National Academy of Sciences, co-edited a journal volume, and published a non-refereed proceedings paper and one technical report. In terms of other activity, Dr. Fleming served on the National Academy of Sciences review panel for the Status of Atlantic Salmon in Maine and as the Independent Science Community Member on the Northwest Planning Council, Artificial Production Advisory Committee. He co-organized two symposia and sat on the scientific committee for the Fifth Conference on Fish Telemetry held in Europe (2003), and the European Union funded Quantitative Genetics Working Group. Dr. Fleming served as external examiner for three Ph.D. theses in Denmark and Sweden, and was an invited expert to workshops on Environmental Risk Assessment Modelling and How do Aquaculture and Capture Fisheries Interact? The Ecological, Economic and Policy Implications of Aquaculture Escapes.

The broad aim of the work is to understand the substantial variation in behavior, life history, and dynamics observed in diadromous and marine fishes, particularly salmon and Pacific groundfish. While the program was initiated this past year, some of the work is impacting our dealings with the potential impacts of cultured (hatchery and farm) salmon on wild populations (e.g., through publications, presentations and involvement on a variety of panels). The work on cultured-wild fish interactions has regional through global consequences. The issue of hatchery-wild salmon interactions is a topic of high regional importance, as well as global importance wherever cultured fish are purposely released for supplementation and augmentation. The work on farm-wild salmon interactions has had less of a regional consequence, than a national (Washington State and Maine) and global (European and Canadian) consequence. Our work on Pacific groundfish is just beginning, but is likely to have significant impact given that like many fisheries throughout the world, the groundfish of the Pacific Northwest have incurred widespread and dramatic collapses in recent years. Our work on understanding habitat needs and dispersal patterns of Pacific coast rockfish and flatfish will be important in considerations of stock/population rebuilding, conservation (e.g. Marine Protected Reserves), and other management decisions. The information gained may also prove useful in identifying alternative survey designs for assessing groundfish populations.


  • Fleming, I.A., Einum, S., Jonsson, B. and Jonsson, N. 2003. Comment on Rapid Evolution of Egg Size in Captive Salmon. Science 302: 59b.
  • Einum, S., Fleming, I.A., Cote, I.M. and Reynolds, J.R. 2003. Population stability in salmon species: effects of population size and female reproductive allocation. Journal of Animal Ecology 72: 811-821.
  • Garant, D.*, Fleming, I.A.*, Einum, S.* and Bernatchez, L. 2003. Alternative male life-history tactics as potential vehicles for speeding introgression of farm salmon traits into wild populations. Ecology Letters 6: 541-549. (* contributed equally to the work)
  • Forseth, T., Ugedal, O., Jonsson, B. and Fleming, I.A. 2003. Ecological character displacement in Arctic charr caused by competition from brown trout. Oikos 101: 467-478.
  • Einum, S. and Fleming, I.A. 2002. Does within-population variation in fish egg size reflect maternal influences on optimal values? American Naturalist 160: 756-765.
  • National Research Council (co-author). 2002. Genetic Status of Atlantic Salmon in Maine. Interim Report from the Committee on Atlantic Salmon in Maine. National Academy Press, Washington, DC. 62 pp. (ISBN 0-309-08311-7)
  • Lembo, G., Spedicato, M.T., Okland, F., Carbonara, P., Fleming, I.A., McKinley, R.S., Thorstad, E.B., Sisak, M. and Ragonese, S. 2002. A wireless communication system for determining site fidelity of juvenile dusky groupers, Epinephelus marginatus (Lowe, 1834), using coded acoustic transmitters. Hydrobiologia 483: 249-257.
  • Einum, S., Hendry, A.P. and Fleming, I.A. 2002. Egg size evolution in aquatic environments: does oxygen availability constrain size? Proceeding of the Royal Society, London B 269: 2325-2330.
  • Finstad, B., McKinley, R.S., Fleming, I.A., Bjornsson, B.Th., Augustsson, T. and Johnsson, J.I. 2002. Comparisons of wild and cultured Atlantic salmon: a case study from Norway. In McKinley, R.S., Driedzic, W.R. and MacKinlay, D. (eds.) Behavioral and Physiological Comparisons of Cultured and Wild Fish. Proceedings of the International Congress on the Biology of Fish, University of British Columbia, Canada, July 21-26, 2002. American Fisheries Society.
  • Jarvi, T. (Co-ordinator), Johnsson, J., Fleming, I.A., Armstrong, J., Metcalfe, N.B., Nicieza, A.G., McKinley, R.S. and Ryman, N. (Partners) 2002. Performance and ecological impacts of introduced and escaped fish: physiological and behavioural Mechanisms. Final Report to the European Commission. Institute of Freshwater Research, Drottningholm, Sweden. 250 p.