Effects of water movement on fish populations

Sean Naman, former postdoctoral fellow at the UBC Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries and PhD Student in the Biodiversity Research Centre, describes his research on salmon and trout in small streams and their relationships with the environment.

I am Sean Naman. I'm a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Geography and the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries. I study the habitat selection, feeding behaviour, and growth of salmon and trout in small streams. Basically how physical forces associated with water movement influence the ability of individual fish to acquire energy, and then how variation in these forces over space and over time determines the number of fish that a given stream or area can support.

My favourite research memories are those when I've been able to directly observe animal behaviour in nature, and I've been really fortunate to have spent a lot of time with my head underwater watching how fish interact with their environment. I have a particularly distinct memory of watching two fish attack a slug, which had fallen into the stream from an overhanging branch. The slug then was ripped in half and each fish swam away with their respective meal.

My favourite research organism - I'm going to highlight actually the stream invertebrates that fish eat, which have a really amazing array of adaptations for life in flowing water. A particularly cool example is Simuliid black fly larvae. They can shoot out silk strands like Spiderman, which attach to rocks and will prevent it from being swept downstream in the current.


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