Salmon Watersheds Program

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UBC summer interns help assess marine climate change impacts

October 4, 2022

The Salmon Watersheds Program was fortunate to work with two interns from the University of British Columbia in the summer of 2022, funded through the UBC Sustainability Scholar Program and BRITE (Biodiversity Research: Integrative Training and Education) Internship Program. These graduate students helped move forward our efforts to develop marine and estuarine indicators that capture the impacts of climate change affecting salmon in those habitats.

Alicia Andersen is a MSc student in UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, studying the factors that influence survival of juvenile sockeye salmon in the Strait of Georgia. Coming with a solid background in ocean ecology of salmon, Alicia identified candidate indicators that capture ocean conditions relevant to salmon. In her report, Alicia describes the candidate indicators, their relationship to salmon growth and survival, and the impact of climate change on each indicator. Further, she has identified datasets that could be used to quantify each indicator. This work is a great first step towards expanding the freshwater habitat assessments currently in the Pacific Salmon Explorer to the marine environment.

Ian Chambers is a MSc student studying mathematical biology at UBC’s Okanagan Campus. Given his quantitative background, Ian was keen to dig into available datasets to understand how climate change is playing out in estuaries. Ian’s internship was part of the Fraser Estuary Research Collaborative (FERC), which is focused on advancing efforts to protect the Fraser River estuary in collaboration with key NGO and Indigenous partners. The Fraser River estuary is the largest estuary in British Columbia and all five species of Pacific salmon migrate through the estuary twice in their life, as adults accessing spawning grounds, and as juveniles migrating out to the ocean. In his report, Ian describes how climate change is affecting the Fraser River estuary and the impacts this may have on Pacific salmon. 

In addition to informing the Salmon Watersheds Program’s work on climate indicators, these internships were an opportunity to involve bright young minds in applied salmon conservation and inspire the next generation of People for Salmon. 

“My internship with PSF was an exciting opportunity to challenge myself and apply the skills and knowledge I have developed through my graduate studies to a new project. The work I did felt like was actually making an impact and contributing to the solution of a real-world issue that I was also passionate about. This opportunity also gave me insight into what a research career outside of traditional academia may look like, and introduced me to more possible career paths.” Ian Chambers.

The interns’ final reports are posted on our Climate Project page. Thanks Alicia and Ian!

Photo by Tavish Campbell