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Kennedy Lab

Laboratory for Integrative Fish Ecology
Research Motivation

Through interdisciplinary research, productive collaborations, and innovative approaches our lab seeks a better understanding of ecological processes in fish and aquatic sciences. All of our current projects attempt to understand mechanisms that control population dynamics, the creation and maintenance of biodiversity, and diverse life history strategies in aquatic systems. These questions often require integration of information across spatial, temporal, and ecological scales, and from abiotic and biotic interactions. Research in our lab addresses the causes and consequences of geomorphic variability and hydrologic alteration on salmonid migratory decisions; the relative effects of interspecific interactions, food web structure and habitat availability on the growth, energetics and survival of fish; and the impacts that thermal experience influence the individual performance and behaviors of fish. Lastly, we have a fundamental interest in the ways in which human behaviors, policies and decisions influence natural processes in aquatic systems.

Research Motivation
Current Projects

Current Projects

Lapwai Creek Steelhead Ecology

Lapwai creek is an important spawning tributary for steelhead in the Clearwater River of Idaho. The tributary is also a microcosm of larger water issues in the West, with water withdrawals and diversion in two of the four headwater streams, diverse land uses and jurisdictions in the watershed, high summer water temperatures, and varying flow. Our Lapwai Creek study examines the effects of these diverse factors on juvenile steelhead ecology; including growth, diet, competition, outmigration, survival, and adult returns. The project has resulted in a long-term dataset with more than ten years of data. 

Ecology of Salmonids in the Frank Church Wilderness

The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness holds the only free-flowing, and largely pristine, major tributary to the Snake River. As such it represents an opportunity to understand the population dynamics of aquatic systems in the absence of anthropogenic land-use change. Our work on the Middle Fork Salmon River and it's tributary, Big Creek, encompasses both biotic and abiotic systems including spawning site fidelity of returning Chinook salmon, diet and migratory behavior of juvenile salmonids, understanding of nutrient dynamics and habitat variability, and collection of abiotic data as a member of RiverNet. 

Snake River Fall Chinook Salmon Outmigration Timing

Fall Chinook salmon in the Snake River of Idaho were historically numerous but as mainstem spawners they have been affected disproportionately by anthropogenic change. Dams block the majority of historical spawning habitat, while changing the dynamics of the river within the current spawning areas as well as throughout their migration to the ocean. Within this context, the timing of juvenile migration has changed and recent research indicates these changes may be evolutionary. This presents the opportunity to study the drivers of ongoing life-history changes within a migratory population. Otolith microchemistry has allowed us to investigate the spatial distribution and timing of juvenile movement patterns in unprecedented detail while linking the observed life-histories with environmental drivers. 

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