What We Do
Our science supports the conservation and management of marine and anadromous species, from deep-sea corals, to salmon, to whales. We employ advanced genetics and genomics tools to provide essential information for managing sustainable fisheries and conserving protected species. We do this by characterizing genetic diversity in marine and anadromous organisms, evaluating the relationship between diversity and population viability, and evaluating how human-induced or environmental factors influence diversity.
Our primary research themes and activities include:
- Using advanced genetic and genomic techniques, we assess genetic variation in aquatic animals, identify the composition of mixed fishery stocks, estimate fitness in the wild, and evaluate effects of hatchery domestication, fishing, and climate change.
- Evaluating biological diversity in marine communities and diets of endangered Southern Resident killer whales using DNA metabarcoding.
- Using environmental DNA (eDNA) to monitor diversity, distribution, and abundance of marine species in open ocean and nearshore communities.
- Undertaking fisheries forensics casework in support of the NMFS Office of Law Enforcement.
- Evaluating the biological impacts of ocean acidification on marine species and communities. These studies use state-of-the-art experimental facilities for growing animals in conditions that mimic pre-industrial, current, and future ocean carbon dioxide levels to observe changes in animal growth, survival, behavior, and adaptation potential.
Ecological Genetics and Diversity
We support ongoing conservation and management activities, including participation in protected species status reviews, listings, and recovery planning.
We develop and use integrative genetic and genomic approaches to understand genetic diversity of marine and anadromous species. Our team includes forensic scientists using molecular tools for forensic casework involved in protecting species.
We research the biological response to ocean acidification (including simultaneous changes in temperature and oxygenation). Our research informs modeling the future
Krista Nichols, Ph.D.