A New Science Blog: Better Know a Fish!

Friends, I’d like to share a new writing project I’ve started, called Better Know a Fish!

Better Know a Fish!

Better Know a Fish!

Ever since my very first pet fish (two swordtails and tiger barbs in a large jar… no they did not live long), I’ve been a huge fan of our finned friends. I admire the freedom that fish have as they swim and maneuver underwater, as if weightless. I’m fascinated by their tremendous diversity, and their contributions to our own species and society — even if they are frequently overlooked in favor of things feathered and furred.

As I write in the blog’s introduction, “Why Get to Know a Fish?”:

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Community Supported Ingenuity

Durham residents brave cold winter rain to get their Walking Fish delivery. Image credit: Ben Young Landis

Up and down the East Coast, something fishy is happening in local communities.  People gathering at Harvard University to pick up freshly caught cod and pollock.  A truck pulling up to an inland Maine church to deliver shrimp from nearby Port Clyde.

It’s all part of a movement called “community supported fisheries,” or CSF for short. Riding on the wave of the local food movement, CSFs are being billed as a solution to bring more income to struggling fishing communities while educating their urban customers on the quality and diversity of affordable, local seafood. With media coverage from the Wall Street Journal to the Washington Post, CSF is now a new buzzword in town.

Community supported fisheries have a surprisingly young history, one that shows how whole communities — commercial anglers, neighborhood organizers, academics, students — have found themselves working on common ground.

Reading the Journal and the Post, you might think the story begins far away in the cold waters of Massachusetts and Maine. But surprisingly, it all started with a North Carolina Fishery Resource Grant project…

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Salmon Versus Timber: Considering Reciprocal Service Flows in Harvest Management of Riparian Forests


Growing empirical evidence suggest that spawning salmon populations provide measurable nutrient flows back to riparian forest systems, further complicating the dilemma of optimizing harvest management of both timber and fisheries in salmon-rearing watersheds.  Such a co-dependent relationship between these two high-value resources begs reconsideration of existing resource management strategies, where frequently timber production is prioritized.  Here, I review recent research on salmon benefits to forest growth, all of which focus on the Pacific Northwest region of North America and the endemic timber and salmon species.  Additionally, I consider the implications from this ecological co-dependency for existing timber harvest and conservation payment policies.  As an example, I apply them to the findings by Zorbrist and Lippke (2007) on Oregon and Washington riparian timber harvesting limits for fish protection, whose economic analysis predict that such restrictions decrease soil expectation value for small landowners.

Keywords: ecosystem services, salmon, marine-derived nutrients, forestry economics

Submitted as an economics course term paper on 2008/12/14.  This report has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Download Full Article (PDF)

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Electrofishing in Wine Country

Rushing through the open van door, the morning air was numbingly cold.

At least it was to this transplanted South Floridian, as none of my fellow students seem to be shivering as much. Nevertheless, all of us are wearing shorts, for soon we would be encased in the damp warmth of our neoprene chest-high waders and thick, almost armored wading boots.  More importantly, later in the day, the northern California sun will have turned this snug, warming suit into an imprisoning cage of suffocating heat.

It was wise to wear the minimum under these blessed and cursed waders.  But the synthetic rubber that forms these waterproof overalls also provides insulation from an element that is most important to our task:  electricity.

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