2020 Symposia

The symposia at the 2020 annual meeting will be topical and relevant to fisheries professionals in today’s world.

If you have a presentation that would be a good fit for one of these symposia, we encourage you to submit an abstract or get in touch with one of the individual moderators. If your presentation falls a little outside of the scope of those listed here, we are hosting a number of more general sessions, and will group it with similar topics.


 Moderator Symposium Title
Jeff Falke
Vanessa von Biela
Warm water and ecological drought impacts on Alaska freshwater habitats and fisheries
Donald Arthur
Eric Walther
Avoiding a Diet of Weak Poison: Highlighting aquatic contamination research, monitoring, prevention, and advocacy efforts in a changing Northern landscape
Brian McKenna Integrating Drones into Alaska’s Fisheries and Aquatic Research
Courtney Carothers
Stephanie Quinn-Davidson
Indigenous Fisheries in Alaska and Issues of Equity
Many General Symposia Sessions


Special Symposia Sessions

Thought of another idea for a special symposia? Email Program Chair Stephanie Quinn-Davidson (presidentelect@afs-alaska.org) to submit your idea and get added to the March 2020 meeting program!

Warm water and ecological drought impacts on Alaska freshwater habitats and fisheries
Organized by Jeff Falke (UAF/USGS) and Vanessa von Biela (USGS)
Contact information: jfalke4@alaska.edu

The last five years (2015–2019) have been the warmest on record globally and these anomalies have been particularly pronounced in Alaska. Effects of atmospheric warming on freshwater habitats include increased water temperatures, more precipitation as rain vs. snow, altered stream flow regimes, and hydrologic drought. Although similar events occurred historically, recent events are more geographically widespread, prolonged, and frequent. Climate models predict these trends to continue with increased extreme weather events, increased winter rainfall, deceased snowpack, and warmer and drier summers. Alaska’s Pacific salmon and wider freshwater fish community are cold-water adapted, and thus changes to water temperature and flow regimes during freshwater portions of their life cycle may result in altered run timing, spawning success, and juvenile survival.  These impacts have already been observed. For example, during summer 2019 unusual levels of adult freshwater mortality in Pacific salmon en route to spawning grounds was observed across western and interior Alaska with hundreds to thousands of carcasses observed in some locations.  In southcentral and southeast Alaska, ecological drought during summers 2018 and 2019 resulted in reduced streamflow and warm water temperatures that limited access of salmon to spawning streams and resulted in mortality. However, impacts are context dependent, and increased water temperatures in cold-limited areas may result in higher growth rates for juvenile fishes. As a result, a synthesis of warm water and drought impacts for Alaska freshwater fish and habitats is warranted. The goal of this symposium is to bring together aquatic scientists and practitioners that represent a broad array of Alaska freshwater ecosystems to report on effects of heat and drought in recent years on fish and habitats, and identify research and management options, including long term monitoring, that address the challenges facing Alaska freshwater fisheries into the future.

Avoiding a Diet of Weak Poison: Highlighting aquatic contamination research, monitoring, prevention, and advocacy efforts in a changing Northern landscape
Organized by Donald Arthur (UAF) and Eric Walther (UAF)
Contact information: dearthur@alaska.edu

Significant advancements in environmental protection have occurred since Rachel Carson’s revolutionary Silent Spring. Yet nearly six decades later we face similar problems from a suite of familiar (e.g. mercury) and new (e.g. PFAS) contaminants. The aquatic ecosystem readily absorbs and magnifies toxic chemicals whether the source is anthropogenic or naturally occurring. These processes lead to the bioaccumulation of toxic compounds in culturally and economically important fish and invertebrates with consequences for ecosystem health and population viability. Considering the escalating effects of climate change and the growing resource extraction industry, it is now more important than ever to understand the mechanisms and rates that these compounds accumulate in the Northern environment, the influence they have on aquatic biota, and the potential health risks they pose. This process begins with monitoring water quality and asking challenging research questions in ecotoxicology, which influence advocacy and policy making that will protect ecosystem health, the fisheries of the North, and ourselves.

Integrating Drones into Alaska’s Fisheries and Aquatic Research
Organized by Brian McKenna (Tanana Chiefs Conference)
Contact information: brian.mckenna@tananachiefs.org

Unmanned, autonomous vehicles, commonly referred to as drones, are a relatively new technology that shows promise as an effective tool for fisheries and aquatic research. Recent advances in this technology, coupled with increasingly affordable pricing and effective regulations, have contributed to expanding applications of drone technologies within fisheries and other aquatic investigations. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS), and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) provide researchers with alternative equipment and novel methodologies for remote sensing investigations. These unmanned vehicle platforms are capable of hosting a variety of sensors including visible light sensors, infrared sensors, multispectral and hyperspectral sensors, LiDAR, telemetry receivers, various instruments, and more. This symposium will highlight drone applications and case studies in Alaskan and other northern fisheries, and will explore the benefits and challenges associated with implementing these technologies.

Indigenous Fisheries in Alaska and Issues of Equity
Organized by Courtney Carothers (UAF) and Stephanie Quinn-Davidson (Tanana Chiefs Conference)
Contact information: clcarothers@alaska.edu

The fishery systems in Alaska are Indigenous fisheries. People and fish have been closely entwined here for at least 12,000 years, and by Indigenous accounts much longer. Deep knowledge and stewardship systems developed over millenia continue to guide respectful relationships and practices across the Indigenous communities of the state. And yet, in western fisheries education, science, and management systems, this stewardship and depth of knowledge is rarely acknowledged nor drawn upon. Indigenous fisheries are under great threat from exclusion and dispossession. We highlight here in our forum and working lunch, issues of equity for Indigenous peoples and fisheries. We also discuss equity and inclusion more generally as fundamentally central considerations in education, science, and management, greatly in need of amplification and attention.

General Symposia Sessions

If you have an abstract that does not fit in to the above special sessions, not to worry! Program organizers will use the “key words” question in the abstract submission form to organize talks under similar themes for general symposia. If you would like to chair a general symposia session, please email the Program Chair (presidentelect@afs-alaska.org).