Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) Conservation Biology CB - Genetics and Evolution


Salish Sea genetics
Salish Sea genetic inventory
The Salish Sea comprises most of the Puget Sound water area. Marine species are generally assemblages of discrete populations occupying various ecological niches. Genetic changes to populations can occur as a result of genetic drift, introgression between populations, local adaptation, etc. This project provides genetic baseline data to monitor genetic change in plants, animals, and algae.

Research Themes

Recovery and rebuilding of marine and coastal species
The Pacific Northwest is home to several iconic endangered species, including Pacific salmon and killer whales, and several rockfish species. Mandates such as the Endangered Species Act, MagnusonStevens Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, grant NOAA Fisheries the authority to manage the recovery of depleted species and stocks. The NWFSC contributes to species recovery through research, monitoring and analysis, providing NOAA managers and regional stakeholders the tools and information they need to craft effective regulations and develop sustainable plans for recovery.

Research Foci

Develop methods to use physiological, biological and behavioral information to predict population-level processes
Understanding the biological processes occurring within organisms is a powerful way of understanding how environmental changes affect those organisms. Genetics, developmental, physiological and behavioral studies all provide important information for effective species recovery and rebuilding. Integrating this information into models is vital to predict how populations will respond to natural or human perturbations, and to assess the constraints to stock rebuilding efforts. For example, data on thermal tolerance and physiological responses to temperature can be used to explore changes caused by shifts in climate on reproductive behavior and productivity, viability, movement, habitat selection, and population dynamics. Similarly, data on contaminants that impact physiological processes (immune system, growth, development, reproduction, and general health) are critical in determining how these compounds affect population dynamics. Data on biological responses of organisms to ocean acidification are useful for understanding how acidification may affect individual development and survival. The NWFSC collects such information for several species that are of concern, targets of fisheries or otherwise important for overall ecosystem function. NWFSC scientists will continue to expand current efforts and develop methods to incorporate physiological, biological and behavioral data into population models in order to predict population-level processes from these individual level data.


use of genetic markers to determine differential reproductive success between adults with different life histories


None associated


Class Actinopterygii
ray-finned fishes
Species Pandalus jordani
ocean shrimp
Species Pandalus platyceros
spot shrimp


Gary Winans
Principal Investigator