Temperature, phenology, and embryo survival in Western Alaska sockeye salmon populations: the potential for adaptation to a warming world?

Project Description

This research focuses on climate change and the potential for adaptation in Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. In particular, we will be investigating sockeye salmon populations in the Kvichak River Watershed, specifically populations that spawn on the shores of Woody Island in Lake Iliamna and in groundwater fed ponds near the village of Pedro Bay, in the northeast corner of Lake Iliamna. This work uses long-term records of temperatures collected by colleagues at the University of Washington, as well as hind-and forecasted regimes to predict early life history sockeye salmon phenology given past, present and future temperature regimes. Additionally, this project includes experimental rearing of sockeye embryos in the lab under present and future climate conditions in order to describe the adaptive capacity of multiple population of Bristol Bay Sockeye. This 'common garden experiment' will allow us to quantify developmental plasticity of two populations that experience fundamentally different temperature regimes (cold and constant vs warm and variable) during embryo development and allow us to gauge the potential responses to expected rising temperature for this region.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

picture of Peter Westley

Peter Westley

Assistant Professor
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Life history evolution
  • Dispersal and philopatry
  • Contemporary evolution
  • Aquatic invasions and colonization
  • Eco-evolutionary dynamics
(907) 474-7458
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Co-Principal Investigator

picture of Jeffrey Falke

Jeffrey Falke

Assistant Professor
  • Freshwater fish ecology and conservation biology
  • Landscape and spatial ecology of freshwater systems
  • Ecology and evolutionary biology of salmonids
  • Climate change impacts on aquatic systems
  • Impacts of introducted species on native aquatic fauna
(907) 474-6044
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Project Funding

Amount: Western Alaska LCC
Start Date: 2014-09-00 End Date: 2016-08-00

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