OTN researchers investigate the protection of fish populations

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Jaqueline Chapman, an OTN PhD student from West Vancouver, and Prof. Steve Cooke, a Canada Research Chair in Environmental Science and Biology, both at Carleton University, are exploring the interactions between catch and release fisheries and disease in migrating salmon.

Chapman’s work investigates how human handling affects post-release survival rates of salmon during spawning migrations. For example, a fish may swim away unscathed after release, but could be more vulnerable to pathogens, which could contribute or lead to post-release mortality.

Read: How can we protect fish populations? (Carleton University Newsroom)

Using rod-and-reel and dip-netting techniques to catch and analyze individual fish, Chapman employs these uncommon approaches to her research, which is supported by OTN in collaboration with DFO and other partners. Results from these methods may provide insight on nearly four dozen pathogens and their effect on migrating salmon to broaden understanding on the health of fish populations in Canada.

“Not only has she figured out how to do high-quality research,” Cooke shares about Chapman, “she also wants to share these ideas with other young scientists.”

Last year, Chapman was the lead author on a paper called “Being relevant: Practical guidance for early career researchers interested in solving conservation problems,” which identifies 13 practical strategies that other new scientists can use when addressing the ‘big picture’ while conducting field work and conservation initiatives.

This research is supported by the Ocean Tracking Network, which supports over 260 students and trainees across 13 Canadian universities.

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