Megan M. Stachura

Bio-economic model of marine recreational fisheries off Washington and Oregon

I developed a bio-economic model of marine recreational fisheries off Washington and Oregon while working as a contractor at the NOAA Fisheries Northwest Fisheries Science Center. Recreational fisheries make up a substantial portion of catch for many West Coast fish stocks and are economically, socially, and culturally important. It is difficult to predict how changes in recreational fisheries regulations (e.g. bag limits, size limits, seasonal closures) will influence recreational angler effort and recreational fishing mortality for both targeted and bycatch stocks. To better understand this, my colleagues and I built a bio-economic model of marine groundfish and salmon recreational fisheries off Washington and Oregon. The economic component of this model is based on results from a 2007 survey of recreational anglers. The biological component is based on stock assessment models, and for this reason we focused on recreationally important stocks that have stock assessments (e.g. lingcod, black rockfish) and overfished stocks for which bycatch in the recreational fishery may be important (e.g. yelloweye rockfish).

While working on this project, I also contributed to an assessment of the black rockfish stocks off Washington, Oregon, and California.

Northeast U.S. fish stock climate vulnerability assessment

While working as a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow in the NOAA Fisheries Office of Sustainable Fisheries, I contributed to an assessment of the vulnerability to climate change of 82 marine fish and shellfish species living in the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf. This project was the first major implemenation of this methodology that is now also being used in other regions of the U.S. to assess the vulnerability of marine species to climate change.

Environmental influences on Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Chinook salmon survival

There have been recent declines in the number of adult Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) returning to the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region of western Alaska. To better understand the causes of these poor returns, I studied how freshwater and ocean environmental conditions impact Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Chinook salmon survival. I compiled relevant environmental data and developed models to identify processes and variables important to Chinook salmon survival in this region.

Environmental drivers of recruitment synchrony of Northeast Pacific marine fish

Megan aboard the NOAA ship Oscar Dyson in the Gulf of Alaska in August 2011 for the walleye pollock acoustic-trawl survey.
Arrowtooth flounder, a groundfish found in the Northeast Pacific.

Understanding environmental influences on marine fish productivity is important for sustainable, ecosystem-based management of marine resources. This knowledge is particularly important for early life stages when fish are most sensitive to changes in the environment. I investigated the hypothesis that groups of Northeast Pacific marine fish stocks exhibit synchronous recruitment (the number of fish spawned in a certain year as they reach an age that they are susceptible to fishing) due to a shared susceptibility to environmental influences. I investigated the effects of regional environmental variables such as water temperature, freshwater runoff, and upwelling. I used Bayesian hierarchical models to model recruitment for groups of stocks with similar early life histories as a function of these environmental covariates. This research was part of my Master's thesis at the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.

To learn more about Northeast Pacific fish species, I participated in an acoustic-trawl survey of walleye pollock in the Gulf of Alaska during the summer of 2011.

Oceanographic influences on patterns in North Pacific salmon abundance

I identified common patterns of variation in the abundance of wild pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha), chum salmon (O. keta), and sockeye salmon (O. nerka) from 34 population groups from Asia and western North America using multivariate analysis techniques. I also identified oceanographic and atmospheric variables that covary with the major patterns of salmon abundance variations. This research was part of my Master's thesis at the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.

Oceanographic database development

Megan collecting oceanographic data in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in July 2010.

During the summer of 2010 I worked with the National Park Service Southeast Alaska Inventory and Monitoring Network to make 16 years of historical oceanographic data from Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve widely available to scientists and the general public through an online database. These data are now used in ecosystem monitoring and scientific research. I also participated in field work to collect oceanographic data in the park.

Estimation of sablefish discard mortality

Megan weighing a sablefish aboard the F/V Ocean Prowler in the Gulf of Alaska for the 2009 sablefish longline survey.

The aim of this project was to determine the bycatch discard mortality rate of Alaska sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) and factors affecting mortality for use in stock assessments to better inform management decisions. I compiled information for over 10,000 tagged sablefish and conducted a statistical analysis of relative recapture rates based on several factors using a logistic regression. I also participated in the sablefish longline survey and collected data at-sea on the occurrence of prior hooking injuries in the Alaska sablefish population. I began this project during an internship through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hollings Scholarship Program. I continued this research as a Senior Thesis at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and published the findings.

Impacts of temperature on butterfly flight

The Propertius duskywing butterfly (Erynnis propertius)

To better understand how insects may respond to climate change, I designed and implemented a research project investigating the effects of temperature on the flight ability of the Propertius duskywing butterfly (Erynnis propertius). I completed this research with Dr. Jessica Hellmann at the University of Notre Dame through the U.S. Department of Energy Global Change Education Program Summer Undergraduate Research Experience.