Pacific Salmon Ecology

1. Early life history of Pacific Salmon

The first months after salmon enter the ocean are a critical period in their life history. Survival during this early marine phase in the coastal ocean may ultimately be responsible for inter-annual variability and long-term fluctuations in stocks. Working in collaboration with the Hakai Institute we research key aspects of early marine life history that are expected to impact the growth, health and ultimately survival of the juvenile fish:

  • Spatial and temporal variability of marine habitat that juvenile salmon experience in coastal British Columbia;
  • How ocean conditions drive the availability of zooplankton prey in space and time, and the quantity and quality of that zooplankton prey;
  • The effect of prey timing, quantity, and quality on juvenile salmon growth;
  • Juvenile salmon species specific feeding biology and competitive interactions;
  • Pathogen and parasite infection dynamics;
  • How migration behavior determines early marine life history experience;
  • The interactive effects of the above on juvenile salmon mortality.

A summary of core project data can be found at

Current Lab personnel: 

  • Alicia Anderson (MSc candidate) – interannual variation in juvenile salmon health assessed through growth and condition metrics;
  • Natalie Benoit (MSc candidate) – application of eDNA to resolving migration pathways of juvenile salmon;
  • Thomas Smith (MSc candidate) – freshwater habitat use and production of coho salmon;
  • Yuliya Kuzmenko (PhD candidate) – sockeye salmon migration dynamic and early marine growth;

2. Late marine life history of Pacific Salmon

Maturing and adult Pacific salmon occupy diverse marine habitats, from the coastal ocean to high seas. Variation in habitat use is dependent on species and stock. These later life stages of Pacific salmon remain a black box and the Pelagic Ecosystems Lab is working to improve understanding through the application of new methodologies and opportunities to sample these environments with national and international programs.

Current Lab personnel: 

  • Jacob Lerner (PhD candidate) – chinook salmon habitat use, trophic ecology, and nutrition;
  • Dr. Genyffer Troina (PDF) – trophic ecology of Pacific salmon species and the critical trophic pathways that support their high seas production in the high seas North Pacific.