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Melting glaciers will challenge some salmon populations and benefit others


A diverse team of 14 scientists (including researchers from the Moore Lab) with backgrounds ranging from salmon biology to climate change; glaciers to river systems, integrated these fields of study to synthesize the different pathways of effects that glacier retreat has on Pacific salmon and their habitats.

The researchers predict that some salmon populations in western North America may benefit, while others may struggle from the effects of glacier retreat over the coming decades.

The study shows that 85 percent of major salmon watersheds or regions in western North America currently have at least some glacier coverage. But glaciers in this region are expected to lose up to 80 percent of their ice volume by 2100, with significant implications for salmon habitat such as availability, water flows, and water temperatures.

The study predicted that in some inland arid watersheds in the southern portion of Pacific salmon’s range, the loss of cold glacier meltwater during summer months could lead to warmer waters and low river flows that challenge both adult and young salmon.

In regions where the landscape is still dominated by large glaciers, such as in south-central Alaska, glaciers are retreating from low-lying valleys, creating new rivers and lakes that can be colonized by salmon.

The relative benefits and challenges posed by the different phases of glacier retreat will also vary depending on the watershed context, the salmon species and life stage (adult or juvenile).

This study showcases the need for forward-looking perspectives on salmon conservation and management in an era of rapid global change. There is an urgent need to protect and manage for the future of salmon and their ecosystems, not just the present.​

Media: Vancouver Sun; CFAX 1070 Radio.

Latest News

Sep 14, 2020 - Our Gallery has been updated with photos from recent fieldwork to the Taku River and Keogh River.

Sep 1, 2020 - We welcome four new grad students this Fall semester: Julie Charbonneau (PhD candidate), Julian Gan (MSc student), Sara Tremblay-Boyer (MREM student) and Kate McGivney (MSc student).

Aug 26, 2020 - Jon and collaborators are looking for a postdoc/programmer to work on stressors and cumulative effects in salmon watersheds. Start date: ASAP. The project would be associated with DFO scientist Eva Enders and BC scientist Jordan Rosenfeld (link).

Jul 29, 2020 - Jon Moore's contribution to the 2020 State of the Mountains report, "Mining in the Mountains", is now available online.

Jul 20, 2020 - Emma Hodgson (previous post-doc) has had a feature article in Canadian Geographic ("The voices we pay attention to") and a research paper ("Migratory diversity in an Arctic fish supporting subsistence harvest") published this past week.

Jul 2, 2020 - The Moore Lab's Koeye Salmon Ecology project was featured in a story on "Decolonizing ecology."


Jun 24, 2020 - Congrats Jon Moore on your recent collaborative paper: "Considering Indigenous Peoples and local communities in governance of the global ocean commons."

May 26, 2020 - Check out our latest COVID-19-inspired Notes From the Field.

May 4, 2020 - Congratulations Alex Sawyer (MSc student) and Jon Moore on the publication of their insights from the 2019 AFS Pacific salmon science symposium. Those with Fisheries Magazine access can read it here.


Apr 27, 2020 - Congratulations Will Atlas (previous PhD student), Jon Moore and Kara Pitman (PhD student) on the publication of their paper on using lake productivity to evaluate data-poor sockeye populations. Read the paper.


Apr 24, 2020 - Jon Moore was also co-author on a paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology, on "Prioritizing conservation actions for Pacific salmon in Canada."


Apr 24, 2020 - Congratulations Jon Moore on the publication of his letter in Science, "Canada's mines pose transboundary risks".


Apr 14, 2020 - Read the new Moore Lab Science News article "Egging on aggression—Poor salmon returns increase aggression among egg-predating fishes." 

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