Dr. Peter Westley, SEEC Lab PI

Peter grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, graduated from Dimond High School and traveled out of state for BS and MS degrees in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington and a PhD at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He is fascinated by the patterns of fish diversity in nature and explores the ecological and evolutionary underpinnings of those patterns. By using examples from colonization, hatchery wild salmon interactions, invasion, and climate change he and his students explore the causes and consequences of fine scale adaptive change in salmonid fishes. 

Contact Peter at pwestley at alaska.edu; 907-474-7458 or swing by his office in 204 Arctic Health

Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr. Krista Oke

Krista is working in the SEEC Lab on a project started through the State of Alaska Salmon & People project at NCEAS. She is quantifying the consistency, causes, and consequences of shrinking salmon sizes in Alaska in collaboration with the Center for Salmon & Society at UAF.  She was awarded a prestigious Centennial Postdoctoral Fellowship from UAF. 

kristaoke at gmail.com

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Current Graduate Students

Molly Payne, MS

Molly joined the SEEC lab in the fall of 2019 to better understand the factors that make some sites attractive to hatchery strays in Southeast, Alaska.  

Julia McMahon

Straying by Pacific salmon is a fundamental aspect of their biology, yet also mediates the interaction between wild and hatchery fish on the spawning grounds. Julia is working in Prince William Sound in conjunction with a larger multi-year study, where she seeks to understand the ecology of strays. Julia is supported by a fellowship from the Rasmuson Fisheries Science Center

jmcmahon5@alaska.edu

Eric Walther

Eric is working with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to construct a watershed prioritization map for the Chehalis River in Southwest Washington State. By extensive on the ground sampling, Eric is building intrinsic potential models to assess fine scale habitat potential for coho salmon and steelhead. 

Eric.Walther@dfw.wa.gov

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Undergraduate Students

Monroe (Moe) Morris

Building on Morgan Sparks' MS work, Moe has joined the lab to quantify local adaptation in developmental rates in adult coho salmon from the Copper River Delta. 

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Lab Alumni

Michelle Stratton, MS

Is there really more to know about Buskin River adult coho salmon? As it turns out there is a ton! Michelle for her thesis showed the importance of holding habitat for fish prior to spawning, particularly Buskin Lake. 

Marta Ree, MS

For her thesis, Marta quantified the strength and form of selection acting on body size of smolt sockeye salmon on Kodiak Island. Was Yoda right? "Size matters not"

Chase Jalbert, MS

In every invasion there is a silver lining. Chase explored the population structure of introduced northern pike using ddRAD sequencing approaches and conducted the first watershed risk analysis to guide conservation and suppression efforts to the on-going pike invasion.

Katja Berghaus, MS

Invasive species are opportunities to explore phenotypic divergence to new habitats. Katja joined SEEC from Germany where she conducted research for her MS that explores contemporary trait change in northern pike introduced to Southcentral Alaska with comparisons to the native range. She is continuing on with a PhD at UAF under the supervision of Trent Sutton. 

kiberghaus@alaska.edu

Dr. Curry Cunningham

For his postdoc work, Curry formulated a novel stage-based life history model for Yukon River Chinook salmon and found evidence that climate in the ocean and freshwater, plus competition at sea with Asian stocks of chum salmon can explain patterns of survival.  

curry.cunningham at noaa.gov

Morgan Sparks, MS

For his MS thesis in the SEEC Lab, Morgan quantified the potential adaptive response of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon to warming water temperatures during spawning and embryo development. He is currently working with Mark Christie's group at Purdue University. 

msparks1309 at gmail.com

Casey McConnell, MS

Understanding the causes and consequences of straying by Pacific salmon is a fundamental and applied question. Casey tackled this by studying straying by hatchery produced chum salmon in Southeast, Alaska and showed that strays enter the spawning grounds later, live fewer days, retain more eggs, are younger and smaller than wild counterparts. He also showed that stress was not obviously linked to straying, though did find that hatchery fish had higher rates of vaterite in their otoliths than wild fish. 

casey.fishes at gmail.com

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Madeline Jovanovich

Madeline worked in the SEEC Lab on the large and ambitious 'State of Alaska Salmon & People' Project. During her time she worked to compile mountains of data on salmon escapement and harvest, hatchery release and return numbers, and in the process became a wiz at data science. She is a life long commercial fisher with roots in Washington State and heart in Bristol Bay. 

C. Nathan Cathcart

Nate worked in the SEEC Lab on a diet synthesis of northern pike across Alaska.  Pike love to eat fish when they can, but can persist on insects and each other. 

cncathca at gmail.com

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Joe Spencer

Joe completed  his undergraduate senior thesis in the spring of 2018 where he examined the diet and growth patterns in native and invasive northern pike.  Pike love to eat fish...when they can! But they are just fine persisting on insects. They don't eat each other as much as you might have heard or thought.

Cynthia Nelson

Cynthia completed an independent project on the antipredator behavior of juvenile salmonids in Interior and Southcentral regions of Alaska in the context of the northern pike invasion. Her work was supported by an award from URSA at UAF

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