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Estuarine and Ocean Ecology in the Pacific Northwest

Science to understand the ecological links between fish and their habitats.

Estuary seine 2007 .jpg

We study the relationships between physical processes and marine life.

Much of our research looks at the effects of the nearshore ocean environment on the growth and survival of Pacific salmon. Through these studies, we gain a better understanding of the factors that control the production of coastal resources, more successfully predicting resource status (such as numbers of salmon returning to the Columbia River), and increasing our understanding of management effects on these systems.

We study critical biological-physical relationships in two main ecosystem types. 

  1. Northern California Ecosystem off Oregon and Washington - We seek to understand the effects of climate variability on zooplankton and pelagic fish populations. An especially important part of this research is to understand the distribution, abundance, growth, and survival of juvenile salmon during their first months in the ocean. 
  2. Columbia River estuary and estuaries of Puget Sound - We investigate how estuarine residence time and attributes of estuarine habitats affect the recovery of particular populations of salmon.


  • Lower Columbia River Salmon Ecology
  • Ocean Ecology


Estuarine and Ocean Ecology Program Contacts

Last updated by Northwest Fisheries Science Center on February 22, 2023