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Hatchery conditions linked to lower steelhead trout survival

Steelhead trout.Alterations in the epigenetic programming of hatchery-raised steelhead trout could account for their reduced fertility, abnormal health and lower survival rates compared to wild fish, according to a new Washington State University study.

The study, published May 18 in Environmental Epigenetics, establishes a link between feeding practices that promote faster growth, as well as other environmental factors in fish » More …

Several fish adapt in same way to toxic water

Toxic fish.At least 10 different lineages of fish have adapted to live in an extreme environment using the same mechanism, according to a study led by WSU evolutionary biologists.

The fish, which were found living in streams with highly toxic levels of hydrogen sulfide in different locations in the United States, Mexico and the island of Hispaniola, all had adapted to their harsh environments by modifying an enzyme in their mitochondria, so the toxicant could not bind to it.

The study, recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Scienceschallenges the idea that » More …

Seeding big-picture, interdisciplinary research

A detail of a classic Mayan polychrome vessel depicting a deer hunt.With support from Interdisciplinary Research and Innovation Seed (IRIS) grants, CAS faculty and graduate students in diverse areas are combining forces with colleagues across the university to tackle critical questions by integrating knowledge in a wide array of fields—criminology, biology, English, medicine, archaeology, nursing, and more.

“The IRIS grant program supports faculty efforts to build collaborative relationships and advance our interdisciplinary creative activities, scholarship, and » More …

Dramatic decline in genetic diversity of Northwest salmon charted

Chinook SalmonColumbia River Chinook salmon have lost as much as two-thirds of their genetic diversity, Washington State University researchers have found.

The researchers reached this conclusion after extracting DNA from scores of bone samples — some harvested as many as 7,000 years ago — and comparing them to the DNA of Chinook currently swimming in the Snake and Columbia rivers.

Preserving genetic diversity is a central goal of the Endangered Species Act, in part because it helps a species adapt to changing environments. Yet it is rarely measured to this degree. » More …

Sex that moves mountains: Spawning fish can influence river profiles

Alex FremierIt turns out that sex can move mountains. A Washington State University researcher has found that the mating habits of salmon can alter the profile of stream beds, affecting the evolution of an entire watershed. His study is one of the first to quantitatively show that salmon can influence the shape of the land.

Alex Fremier, lead author of the study and associate professor in the WSU School of the Environment, said female salmon “fluff” soil and gravel on a river bottom as they prepare their nests, or redds. » More …