Fish Dialogue

Virtual Climate Dialogue on Fish —  October 27th, 2020

From the mountains to the sea, leading local scientists discussed how Skagit fresh and saltwater fish are responding and likely to respond to a changing climate. A moderated dialogue on fisheries research highlighted key aspects of climate and uncertainty with the biological response to climate amongst other topics.   


Speakers included:

  • Dr. Jeff Fisher (Seattle City Light):  Challenges of aquatic invasive species and implications to upper Skagit reservoir fisheries and natural resource management 


  • Dr. Kathryn Sobocinski (Western Washington University): Ecosystem Indicators Across the Seascape: Integrating Marine and Riverine Processes to Understand Salmon Survival


  • Dr. Peter Kiffney (National Marine Fisheries Service): Food availability determines how Pacific salmonids respond to water temperature

Skagit Fish Dialogue 10/2020


More detailed Bios and Referenced Speaker Publications:

Dr. Jeffrey Fisher

Dr. Jeffrey Fisher is an aquatic ecologist and ecotoxicologist with 25 years of post-doctoral experience evaluating physical, chemical, and biological impacts on aquatic animals and ecosystem function.  He has conducted aquatic habitat evaluations, biodiversity surveys, ecological and invasive species risk assessments, environmental remediation, fish health assessments, and habitat restoration projects in marine, freshwater and wetland environments in many regions of the country.  He joined Seattle City Light a little over a year ago, returning to the U.S. from directing the Marine Environmental Services division for Ireland’s Marine Institute.  Prior to this work he served the National Marine Fisheries Service from 2011 to 2016 as Branch Chief of the Lower Columbia salmon recovery domain, after earlier positions in research, tribal, and private sector organizations, and the foreign service. These broad experiences have afforded Dr.  Fisher objectivity in evaluating natural resource management issues in aquatic environments in particular.  He is drawing from his past experience and research to address challenges of aquatic invasive species for natural resource management in the upper Skagit system, and the actions being implemented by City Light to address aquatic invasive species concerns.


Referenced Publications:

Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), (2009). Trinational Risk Assessment Guidelines for Aquatic Alien Invasive Species, CEC Project Report. ISBN 978–2‑923358–60‑4

To access the paper, Click Here!


Fisher, J. P., Fitzsimons, J. D., Combs Jr, G. F., & Spitsbergen, J. M. (1996). Naturally occurring thiamine deficiency causing reproductive failure in Finger Lakes Atlantic salmon and Great Lakes lake trout. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 125(2), 167–178.

To access the paper, Click Here!


Fisher, J. P., Spitsbergen, J. M., Iamonte, T., Little, E. E., & Delonay, A. (1995). Pathological and behavioral manifestations of the “Cayuga syndrome,” a thiamine deficiency in larval landlocked Atlantic salmon. Journal of Aquatic Animal Health, 7(4), 269–283.

To access the paper, Click Here!


Dr. Peter Kiffney

For over 20 years, Peter Kiffney has been working in the Watershed Program at National Marine Fisheries Service’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, and he has done extensive research on the habitat needs of salmon and other species of the Pacific Northwest. He received his B.S. degree in Geology from the University of North Carolina and his M.S. in Aquatic Science from the University of California-Davis, followed by a Ph.D. in Fishery and Wildlife Biology and Ecology at Colorado State University. After a 2‑year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia, he joined the Watershed Program in 1998. His interests in aquatic ecology are broad but primarily focus on the rearing ecology of Pacific salmon and trout. He is especially interested in understanding the food system that supports Pacific salmon and trout so that we can improve management strategies for conserving these species in the face of rapid environmental change.


Referenced Publications:

Kiffney, P. M., Buhle, E. R., Naman, S. M., Pess, G. R., & Klett, R. S. (2014). Linking resource availability and habitat structure to stream organisms: an experimental and observational assessment. Ecosphere, 5(4), 1–27.

To access the paper, Click Here!


Kiffney, P. M., Greene, C. M., Hall, J. E., & Davies, J. R. (2006). Tributary streams create spatial discontinuities in habitat, biological productivity, and diversity in mainstem rivers. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 63(11), 2518–2530.

To access the paper, Click Here!


Naman, S. M.*, J. S. Rosenfeld, P. M. Kiffney and J. S. Richardson. (2018) Terrestrial resource subsidies mediate nonlinear effects of habitat heterogeneity on stream-rearing Pacific salmon production. Journal of Animal Ecology.

To access the paper, Click Here!


Dr. Kathryn Sobocinski

Dr. Kathryn Sobocinski is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and the Marine and Coastal Science program at Western Washington University. She is an applied marine ecologist focusing on fishes, fish habitats, and impacts of human disturbance and climate change in coastal ecosystems. She uses statistical, ecological, and individual-based models in conjunction with field data to describe patterns and processes in these ecosystems. Her interests in coastal ecosystems developed from her studies at Connecticut College (BA in 1998), University of Washington (MS in 2003), and Virginia Institute of Marine Science (PhD in 2014). Her studies have largely focused on juvenile fishes in coastal marine environments and has included food web ecology, identifying characteristics of nursery habitats, fisheries oceanography describing patterns of distribution based on environmental factors, ecosystem modeling related to rising temperatures in shallow-water ecosystems, and socio-environmental systems research. Currently, Dr. Sobocinski works on several projects within the Salish Sea, including: an investigation of the trophic and water quality impacts of large jellyfish aggregations; ecosystem indicators related to salmon marine survival; and serving as the lead scientist/author for the State of the Salish Sea report coordinated by the Salish Sea Institute at WWU.


Referenced publications:

Sobocinski, K. L., Kendall, N. W., Greene, C. M., & Schmidt, M. W. (2020). Ecosystem indicators of marine survival in Puget Sound steelhead trout. Progress in Oceanography, 188, 102419.

To access the paper, Click Here!

Sobocinski, K. L., Greene, C. M., & Schmidt, M. W. (2018). Using a qualitative model to explore the impacts of ecosystem and anthropogenic drivers upon declining marine survival in Pacific salmon. Environmental Conservation, 45(3), 278–290.

To access the paper, Click Here!