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Hair Cells in the Hatchery



This work is an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Joe Sisneros at the University of Washington, Dr. Andrew Brown at the University of Colorado, and Mr. Tyler Jurasin, a tribal biologist with the Quinault Indian Nation. Ms. Chau Nyugen, a recent WSUV graduate, was also part of the project. This research was supported by a mini-grant from the Bloedel Hearing Research Center at the University of Washington.


Salmon are big business here in the Pacific northwest!  Decades of over-fishing and habitat degradation have depleted native salmon and steelhead runs. Most of the salmon and steelhead in the rivers today originate in state- and federally-funded hatcheries, such as those run by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The picture to the left is the head of a juvenile steelhead with lateral line organs labeled with the vital dye DASPEI (glowing orange dots).  Note that the teeth are autofluorescent!  We found that hatchery-reared juvenile steelhead had significantly fewer lateral line sensory organs that wild-origin fish (Brown et al. 2013). Hatchery fish also had more crystallized otoliths, a phenomenon correlated with reduced auditory sensitivity (Oxman et al. 2007).  These findings suggest reduced sensory capabilities in hatchery steelhead.  Our future work will examine lateral line development, physiology, and behavior in steelhead from hatchery vs. wild sources.