Santa Cruz Subunit Makes the Most of the Cal-Neva Annual Meeting

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By: Katie Kobayashi (President, SCMBAS) and David Fryxell (Past-President, SCMBAS)

AFS Members at CalNeva
This year’s SCMBAS attendees of the 2017 Cal-Neva Annual Meeting: Top row: Liam Zarri, David Fryxell, Katie Kobayashi, Melissa Cronin. Bottom row: Travis Apgar, Ben Wasserman, Stephanie Webb, Devin Chance, Rebecca Robinson, Gina Contolini, Katherine Dale. (Not Pictured: Katie McElroy, Colin Nicol, Rosealea Bond, Nicholas Macias)

Over the past few years, students and young professionals from UC Santa Cruz and the greater Monterey Bay area have made a tradition of attending the Annual Meeting of the California-Nevada Chapter of AFS (Cal-Neva) in full force. The 2017 Annual Meeting in Eureka, CA was no exception. With tremendous support from Cal-Neva’s executive committee and meeting organizers, 16 students from our two-year-old Santa Cruz-Monterey Bay Area subunit (SCMBAS) traveled to Eureka to present their research, network with fellow scientists, and explore the latest advances in fisheries science.

A few of the highlights:

 SCMBAS Members had a Strong Presence at the Poster Session

David Fryxell, Colin Nicol, Rosealea Bond, Megan Sabal, and Travis Apgar made our subunit proud presenting their research at Wednesday night’s poster session. David shared his results from a new work-in-progress on the history of mosquitofish—an exciting compliment to his dissertation work on trait variation and thermal adaptation. Colin and Lea (contact) co-presented a poster on a project they’ve led for NOAA fisheries, revealing the consequences of loose “ghost” PIT tags in study watersheds. Although Megan was busy in the field executing an ambitious new experiment, her poster on predator-prey interactions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta was well-visited by meeting attendees. Last but certainly not least, Travis Apgar was awarded Best Student Poster (1st place) for his work evaluating the potential for evolutionary restoration in migratory steelhead populations—read his recent publication here.

Officers Reported our Annual Progress at the Business Lunch

Katie Kobayashi business meeting
Katie gives the presidential report on SCMBAS: highlighting the many accomplishments of our 2-year-old subunit before the Cal-Neva Executive Committee and general chapter members.

As a newly formed subunit, our members have excelled in creating research, networking, and outreach opportunities. At the Business Lunch, we presented some of our favorite accomplishments from the year, including our growing member base, 30+ publications in scientific journals, and almost 300 hours of outreach and community service. We also highlighted a few of our upcoming events, including this week’s Fish Tales storytelling night, and our BBQ & Fishing Derby in June.

SCMBAS was Well-Represented at the Student Symposium

AFS Members Student Symposium
The student symposium lineup – dominated by SCMBAS students: Katie, Rebecca, Liam, Ben, and Travis
Liam Zarri presentation
Liam gives an award-winning student talk: Here, he demonstrates how he used DIDSON sonar to detect spawning Green Sturgeon in the Sacramento River, CA.

SCMBAS’s founding president, Katie McElroy—now a PhD student at University of Washington (contact)—started off the Student Symposium by presenting her master’s research identifying fish behavior and habitat patterns along the river continuum. She was followed by several captivating talks including Rebecca Robinson’s experimental study of mosquitofish evolution in predator-prey systems (contact), Liam Zarri’s approach using DIDSON sonar to estimate Green Sturgeon abundance, and Ben Wasserman’s examination of parasite infection rates in Threespine Stickleback with varying defense traits. Travis Apgar wrapped up the session with a follow-up to his award-winning poster (see above).

The breadth and quality of student talks at this year’s Student Symposium was phenomenal. The greater Cal-Neva chapter acknowledged our hard work at Thursday evening’s banquet, where we cheered on Liam as he was awarded runner-up for Best Student Talk. Each of our student speakers represented SCMBAS brilliantly and deserves a recognition for their outstanding work.

 A Subunit-Hosted Panel Discussion on Local Fisheries

CalNeva Fisheries Panelists
Our panelists share their perspectives on the future of Humboldt fisheries: Greg Dale (center of table) shared his thoughts. Meanwhile, Stephanie (far right) continued to mediate an insightful discussion.

In his personal blog, past-president David Fryxell reported on the special session that SCMBAS hosted on the final day of the conference. Included below is an excerpt from his post, which can be found here.

“On Friday (April 7), concurrent with the general session, our SCMBAS group hosted a fisheries panel discussion entitled “Diverse Perspectives in an Era of Political and  Environmental Change.” SCMBAS Treasurer Stephanie Webb moderated the panel discussion through prompts we (think we) carefully developed. The goal was to explore attitudes of various local stakeholder groups and scientists to potentially substantial forthcoming changes to regulations and the environment.  Panelists included Casey Allen (Humboldt Saltwater Anglers Association), Professor Laurie Richmond (Humboldt State University), Greg Dale (Coast Seafoods Company), Captain Aaron Newman (vessel Maria Isabel, former Harbor Commissioner), and Eric Schlagenhauf (Hog Island Oyster Company). Many of the panelists already knew one another.

“The discussion was very friendly and rarely polarized (our vetting must have worked!). Below I summarize some of the more interesting viewpoints encountered.

  • All recognize the constraints under which management agencies are operating, think they are mostly doing the best that they can given the circumstances
  • Fisherman want better enforcement against bad apples to build trust and ensure everyone follows the rules
  • Commercial guys wanted “dinosaurs” in management to retire so new technology could be used at full potential to better manage resources via nimble adaptation to changing conditions, for everyone’s benefit
  • Oyster aquaculture folks say seafood labelling is necessary because market wants it and competitors use it, but it is kind of like extortion
  • Oystermen and fishermen think more money needs to go into understanding oceans instead of freshwaters
  • All stakeholder groups recently collaborated to design their local MPA (i.e. the North Coast MPA) – most people satisfied with the outcome
  • Fisherman and aquaculture guys say “trust arrives on foot and leaves on horseback,” that scientists can only be trusted if they purely do science and do not advocate, they press up and coming student scientists in audience to think carefully about it
  • Views of the future were overall very positive – environment and practices are much better than 30 years ago

The panel provided a truly optimistic outlook. However, panelists did admit cooperation might be easier in the small community that is the North Coast of California.”


Overall – A Great Success

Since the founding of our subunit in Fall of 2015, we are proud to have fostered a community of classmates, labmates, co-workers, and friends—eager to communicate our interests in fisheries, natural resources, and aquatic ecosystems. Furthermore, we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this year’s meeting. Our presence at this year’s Cal-Neva Meeting could not have been possible without the support of Cal-Neva Chapter President Joe Merz, Continuing Education Chair Norm Ponferrada, President-Elect Laurie Earley, Travel Grant Coordinator Shawn Acuña, and the rest of the Cal-Neva Chapter Executive Committee.

AFS Members CalNeva
A picture’s worth 1000 words: We sure had fun at this year’s Annual Meeting and Banquet… Thanks for your support!