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NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology FY 2019: Managing tradeoffs between commercial fisheries and resource subsidy ecosystem services in a rapidly changing world


This action funds an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology for FY 2019, Broadening Participation of Groups Under-represented in Biology. The fellowship supports a research and training plan for the Fellow that will increase the participation of groups underrepresented in biology. Ecosystem management in a changing world is essential for maintaining ecosystem resources that are economically or environmentally beneficial to humans. However, when management focuses on maximizing a single resource, tradeoffs can occur that reduce other resources unintentionally. Predicting how ecosystem resources will respond to management actions and climatic change is especially important in heavily managed systems such as commercial fisheries of Pacific salmon. In addition to the economic benefits of salmon fisheries, salmon transport large quantities of nutrients and food resources from the ocean to freshwater ecosystems during their spawning migrations. The eggs and salmon carcasses provided by the migrations are essential for sustaining resident trout and brown bear populations in Alaska. Both species provide sport and subsistence fishing and hunting opportunities that are culturally and economically valuable to local communities. Commercial salmon fisheries primarily harvest fish in the ocean prior to entering freshwater habitats, thereby reducing the quantity of resources that are transported to freshwater ecosystems. The competing resources create a tradeoff between the harvest in salmon fisheries and the nutrient flux that supports resident trout and brown bear populations. To maximize both ecosystem resources, it is important to understand how each respond to changes in climate and fisheries management practices. This research will provide a new understanding of how fisheries management and increased temperature impact the quantity of resources transported by salmon and identify the best management practices to minimize tradeoffs and maximize benefits for a diverse group of stakeholders. <br/><br/>The fellow will use long-term datasets from Bristol Bay, AK combined with simulation modeling techniques to identify fisheries management practices that maximize ecosystem services. The specific research objectives are: 1) construct a bioenergetic model to evaluate the impact of increased stream temperatures and commercial harvest scenarios on resident stream fish growth; 2) develop a population model that evaluates the effect life-history changes in sockeye salmon on resource subsidies provided to freshwater habitats; and 3) test stocking and harvest scenarios that maximize both resource subsidies and commercial returns. The fellow will support broader participation in fisheries science by participating in and organizing the Native Peoples Fisheries Section of American Fisheries Society and by establishing a fisheries training and internship program for Native youth. The fellow will receive training in simulation modeling, teaching, and working with under-represented groups that will advance their career in aquatic ecology.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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