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This week's Evening at Egan talk to focus on Auke Creek fish

Posted: October 18, 2012 - 12:08am

Friday’s Evening at Egan lecture will be led by David Tallmon, Associate Professor of Biology, University of Alaska Southeast. Tallmon will lead “What can the shifty fishes of Auke Creek tell us about adaptation to warming streams in Southeast Alaska?”

His talk begins at 7 p.m. in the Egan Lecture Hall.

Physical conditions in Auke Creek and many streams throughout Southeast Alaska are changing. In collaboration with scientists from NOAA, UAS, UAF, and his students, Tallmon studies how sculpin and salmon in Auke Creek, are adjusting and adapting to a changing environment. During his talk, Tallmon will describe projected future changes of stream conditions in Southeast Alaska.

“We’ve found evidence that most of the juvenile and adult salmon runs are earlier than they used to be,” said Tallmon. “Analyses conducted at the Auke Creek weir reveal that Auke Creek is warming and most of its salmon migrations or “runs” are occurring earlier than in the past.”

Other important results of these analyses are that most of these runs are occurring over a smaller window of time, and that, collectively, spawning salmon can be counted migrating past the weir about only 55 days a year. In the 1970s, salmon migrated past the weir on the way to spawn over a longer 79 day period. Their availability has decreased for humans and non-humans, who live along Auke Creek’s banks and look forward to an annual salmon harvest.

However, there is good news. Despite these shifts in migration timing and the shrinking window over which they can be counted at the weir, Auke Creek salmon have not decreased in abundance. They remain just as abundant as they were decades ago. In other words, they appear to be resilient to the environmental changes that have occurred in the last few decades. But will they remain resilient in the future?

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