Brian Beckman is a physiological ecologist who has worked at the Center since 1986, first at the Cook Field Station in the Columbia River Gorge, and since 1992 at Montlake. He has extensive expertise and experience in evaluating growth, smolting and early male maturation of salmonids in laboratory, hatchery and field environments. He has designed a number of studies seeking to elucidate how growth, and the endocrine mechanisms controlling growth, interact to vary the age and season at which smolting occurs in Chinook salmon and how seasonal growth rates influence the rates of early male maturation. This work has lent insight into how endocrine mechanisms mediate life history variability in salmonids. More recently, he has conducted several studies seeking to validate plasma levels of the hormone insulin-like growth factor-I as an indicator of short-term growth rates in salmonids and other fishes. This includes basic endocrine studies of how growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) and IGF binding proteins interact to modulate growth. Dr Beckman obtained a BS in Biology from Oregon State University, an MS in Marine Environmental Science from the State University of New York Stony Brook, and a Ph.D. in Aquatic and Fishery Science from the University of Washington.
Brian is currently continuing a series of projects, conducted in collaboration with Don Larsen, examining growth, smolting, and early male maturation in hatchery spring, summer and fall chinook salmon from various locations in the Columbia River Basin. These studies document how variation in genetics and rearing environments influence early life history of salmonids and the subsequent effectiveness of hatchery releases. In addition, Brian is continuing participation in a series of ocean cruises examining juvenile salmon in the Northeast Pacific, spanning from California to the Gulf of Alaska. Specifically, blood is being obtained from juvenile salmon and the concentration of IGF1 is being measured to assess short-term growth rate of these fish in the ocean. Seasonal and geographic variations in growth rates are being related to ocean conditions and ocean survival in an attempt to discern the mechanisms responsible for variation in marine recruitment of salmon. Finally, Brian is exploring the possibilities of using IGF1 as a growth index in other marine fishes, including lingcod and sablefish.