How will sea-level rise impact the capacity of estuaries to provide habitat for juvenile salmon?
Estuaries play a critical role in the growth and survival of juvenile Pacific salmon, providing nursery habitat for the fish during their outmigration from their native freshwaters to the ocean. Major scientific knowledge gaps remain in our understanding of how particular estuary habitats (such as tidal forests, salt marshes, and wetlands) support Pacific salmon, and how vulnerable these habitats may be to sea-level rise. Through a combination fieldwork on juvenile salmon and mapping and model analyses, the goals of my project are: 1) examine the relationship between estuaries and their capacity to support juvenile salmon, 2) assess the current resilience of estuary salmon habitats to sea-level rise, and 3) inform estuary management and restoration activities.
I will be working in collaboration with the Nature Trust of British Columbia’s Estuary Resilience to Sea-Level Rise initiative, and their associated partners, to study estuaries along the south and central coast of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. My field research will assess both the relative abundance and individual performance of juvenile salmon in different estuary habitats, and between estuaries that vary in their degree of habitat alteration. I hope to better understand the relationships between estuary condition, habitat, fish distribution, and individual status, so that the knowledge gained can contribute to habitat protection and guide restoration activities.
Email: julian_gan [at] sfu.ca