Coho, carrying capacity, and communication: Coho, carrying capacity, and communication:
10 August 2020

Coho, carrying capacity, and communication: Fisheries conservation in unprecedented times

Category: US Fish & Wildlife Service DFP

It’s hard to believe my fellowship is already more than halfway complete. Despite working remotely, I have had many opportunities to (virtually) connect with my officemates and fellow DFP interns. I particularly appreciate the time the Western Washington Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office has taken to meet with me and make me feel welcome. Each week we have a formal office check-in to discuss logistics and happenings around the office in addition to a causal coffee break the following day where everyone can meet virtually to chit-chat over morning coffee (or for me here in the Eastern time zone, more like mid-afternoon coffee).

 I have also had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with my officemates outside of our group forums to discuss everything from their roles in USFWS, the amazing projects they’ve been a part of, what it’s like to work for a federal agency, and my questions about the fisheries career field. And while it takes some getting used to not being able to pop into a supervisor’s office to ask a quick question, I’ve learned to “knock on their doors” through the Teams app. I have greatly appreciated the time and effort my DFP supervisor, Ben Cross, has taken to ensure I have a well-rounded internship experience, even from afar.

Since my previous post, Ben and I have modeled the production potential (i.e., what is the maximum number of winter Coho salmon smolts produced from X-number of Coho salmon spring-fry and/or summer-parr) of the mainstem Tsoo-Yess River and four of its tributaries using a Habitat Limiting Factor Model (HLFM) described by Nickelson et al. 1992. Preliminarily, it appears the Tsoo-Yess River has slightly less production potential than originally hypothesized; or in other words, the river can support less juvenile Coho salmon than originally estimated. (More on these results in my next bog post – stay tuned!)

Next, we need to project the survey data and model results on a map using Geographic Information System (GIS) software. GIS software is used to manage, map, and analyze data that have spatial information attributed to them. Mapping the data will allow us to visually identify areas of optimal rearing habitat as well as examine juvenile Coho salmon density throughout the watershed. This will allow us to make more location- and habitat-specific management recommendations regarding stocking efforts.

However, the survey data did not have spatial information associated with each sampled location, which makes the data difficult to map. To remedy this issue, we used Google Earth to delineate each sampled unit. We used the unit length at each sampled site (i.e., how long the sample site area was) as well as the surveyor’s field notes (i.e., mentions of landmarks, stream confluences, etc., that are present at a sampled site) to measure along the flowlines in Google Earth, and drop points, which gives each sample site a GPS coordinates. By attributing GPS coordinates to the sample sites, it is easier to visualize and map results in GIS.

Each sample site is measured and then marked in Google Earth, giving each site a unique GPS location.

Each sample site is measured and then marked in Google Earth, giving each site a unique GPS location.


In the coming weeks, I will present my project results to my fellow DFP cohort as well as USFWS. I am excited to share my work and to hear about the results from the projects my cohort members have been a part of this summer. Check back here in a few weeks for a wrap-up of my 2020 DFP experience!


Literature Cited:

Nickelson, T.E., M.F. Solazzi, S. L. Johnson, and J. D. Rodgers. 1992. An approach to determining stream carrying capacity and limiting habitat for coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). In Proceedings of the coho workshop. Edited by L. Berg and P.W. Delaney. Nanaimo, B.C., May 26-28, 1992. pp. 251-260.


Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP

Location: Makah National Fish Hatchery

MANO Project
is an initiative of Hispanic 
Access Foundation.

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