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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Thomas P Quinn
FISH 450
Seattle Campus

Salmonid Behavior and Life History

Behavior, ecology, life history, and conservation of salmonand trout, including their distribution, homing migration, reproduction, ecology of juveniles in different freshwater habitats, seaward migration, and the ecological and evolutionary factors affecting them. Recommended: FISH 312. Offered: A.

Class description

OBJECTIVES: The specific objective of the class is to acquaint students with the life cycles of Pacific salmon and trout. The broader objective is to give students an opportunity to think critically about a very well-studied group of fishes, seeking lessons that pertain to general themes in ecology and behavior. The life cycles of salmon are studied from behavioral and ecological perspectives, and are first placed in the context of general patterns of fish life histories. We then follow them from the time when adults are migrating homeward from the ocean through coastal waters and up rivers to the stream where they were spawned years earlier. We discuss the factors affecting spawning site selection, reproductive behavior, and the survival during the incubation period. We then discuss the behavior and ecology of juvenile salmon in streams, lakes, and during their migration out to the ocean. We consider factors affecting marine survival, growth and the age at maturation. Finally, we address selected topics that are both pertinent to salmon management and serve to integrate the life cycle: the evolution of local adaptations, interactions between forestry practices and salmonids, and the interactions between wild and hatchery-produced salmonids. The course gives students experience collecting, analyzing and writing about data in scientific format, and in designing and writing a proposal to do scientific research.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lectures, illustrated with slides and overheads, dialog with class, and a creative writing assignment (a research proposal) for both 3-credit and 5-credit sections; field trips with associated data collection, analysis, and preparation of papers in scientific format, and a team oral presentation for the 5-credit section.

Recommended preparation

The lectures are largely self-contained and students with diverse backgrounds are encouraged to enroll. However, background in biological science, preferably basic principles of ecology or fish biology, is expected.

Class assignments and grading

PAPERS. There will be two field trips and all students are responsible for collecting and handing data from both trips. Undergraduate students will write papers in scientific format on both of the two data sets. Graduate students will write a scientific paper on one of the two data sets (your choice) and will write a research proposal for the second paper. (Undergraduates wishing to write a proposal in lieu of the second paper may do so). The first trip will be to the Weaver Creek Spawning Channel on October 23. We can also provide you with comparable data collected in 1988 through 1998. We will give you more details prior to the trip but the purpose is to observe, measure and compare the behavior (digging and aggression) of adult male and female sockeye, pink and chum salmon. We will record the number and severity of attacks which males and females direct at other males and females and the frequency of digging. Each of us will collect data and we will distribute a summary. You will then think about, analyze, graph and otherwise fuss over the data and figure out what they mean. SPECIAL NOTE: Weaver Creek is in Canada and all students who are not US citizens must bring all relevant documentation to cross the border. Please check with me or with US and Canadian immigration departments if you are unsure as to what documents to bring. The second field trip will be to Kennedy Creek on November 6 or 13, where we will study spawning site selection by chum salmon. We may also have a trip to the Cedar River on either November 6 or 13. You will work in teams, counting and mapping the locations of redds and recording data on stream depth, width and velocity, surface gravel composition and woody debris. As with the Weaver Creek study, data from previous years (1991-1997) are available. You will write a paper in scientific format, carefully adhering to the style of the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (Instructions to Authors for this journal are on reserve in the library). If you have not done so yet, you will note many differences from the typical "term paper" in an English course. Everything (yes, everything) is to be double-spaced and typed or word-processed, and the pages numbered. The paper must have the following components in this order:

There will be mid-term and final exams and an original research proposal for all students. Those in the lab section (5-credits) will participate in 4 field trips and write a research paper on one of the 4 trips, and make a team presentation of the results to the class.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Thomas P Quinn
Date: 09/16/2004