West coast estuaries as critical fish habitat: from ecological complexity to management


Estuaries are biodiversity hotspots and are increasingly degraded by human development yet are much less studied compared to their freshwater counterparts. Found at the interface of land and sea, they are incredibly productive regions that can support multitudes of fish species such as juvenile salmon, herring, and groundfish. These fish rely on estuaries, likely due to their high productivity and relatively low predation risk. The dynamic nature of estuaries makes them challenging areas to characterise and as a result, knowledge gaps exist surrounding how fish utilize estuaries across their life cycles. Furthermore, continued estuary development has made it increasingly important to fill knowledge gaps surrounding how alteration or destruction of estuary habitat will affect estuary-dependent fish species, particularly at the population-level (e.g. growth and survival). Together these knowledge gaps can lead to challenges in prioritizing areas for protection or development.

This symposium will bring together researchers studying estuary-dependent fish species throughout the west coast of North America to address two questions: 1) How do estuaries support fishes across their complex life cycles? and 2) How can scientific advances be incorporated to guide estuary management and conservation to support estuary functions? This symposium will highlight novel findings related to fish use of estuaries across a range of human impacts and the best practices for characterising the use of estuaries by fish species.

Presenter summaries and contact information for the AFS virtual spring meeting can be found here