Our work focuses on understanding the dynamics of California’s inland fishes, including the factors that shape these populations and influence their persistence. We work in a variety of aquatic habitats from rivers, including intermittent streams (e.g., Rodríguez-Lozano et al. 2020, Moidu et al. 2023), to estuaries (e.g., Colombano et al. 2022, Pak et al. 2023). Much of our work focuses on ecologically and culturally important species, including recent projects on salmon, smelt, herring, and lamprey. We recognize the profound and ongoing impacts of colonization and manifest destiny on Western rivers and connected peoples. We study how landscape transformation has simplied river systems and made them vulnerable to future perturbations, and we study how these systems are changing due to climate change (e.g., Carlson et al. 2024). We work with our partners to apply lessons learned to forward-looking conservation, management, and restoration efforts. Throughout, we work towards better futures for the fish and their people.

One long-running research thread in the lab is the study of habitat mosaics, connectivity, and life history diversity as factors supporting resilient salmon populations. This body of work includes studies exploring the underlying factors generating habitat mosaics (Dralle et al. 2023) and influencing connectivity (Moidu et al. 2021). Another research thread explores how landscape features influence the distribution and expression of life histories across the landscape (e.g., Kelson et al. 2020), with a special interest in understanding how environmental heterogeneity and connectivity influence habitat use (Wang et al. 2020), growth potential (Rossi et al. 2022), movements (Huber and Carlson 2020), and survival (Hwan et al. 2018, Vander Vorste et al. 2020). Another thread explores the drivers of synchrony among populations within a complex (e.g., Bouchard et al. 2022). We aim to apply lessons from this work in management and recovery efforts by characterizing how habitat loss (e.g., McClure et al. 2008) and management actions (e.g., Sturrock et al. 2019, Sturrock et al. 2020, Huber et al. 2024) have simplified salmon life history portfolios – and by suggesting paths to recovering lost life history components. Overall, we see enormous potential for restoration at the right places and times to increase life history diversity as a strategy to recover abundant and resilient salmon populations.

We believe partnerships and collaborations are essential for recovering native fishes and achieving more just conservation outcomes. We contribute to community-driven recovery efforts and work with coalitions that share our values for the benefit of the fish, rivers, and dependent peoples.