What does a fisheries biologist actually do? Most fishermen know that DNR enforcement checks your license, your catch, and maybe your livewell for beer. There must be some people in charge of selling fishing licenses in a Lansing, Madison, or Minneapolis office and some more that pick numbers and say how many trout you can keep in your creel bag. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that! My first goal for this blog is human interest. I’ll try to share some of the more interesting facets of my life as a budding fish biologist. I’ll tell the story of the research questions, the behind the scenes work, and the emotional rollercoaster that can be field research.
I’ve begun to see aquatic ecosystems differently than your average person. Where some see a beautiful lawn, I see impaired fish habitat. Where some see a fallen tree that needs to be removed from a lake, I see the potential for hundreds of fish that might someday take my fly.
Aldo Leopold said, “One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.” Until now, I’ve been content to share these diagnoses with a handful of fishing companions on the water, or with students in the classroom.
My second goal is to use this blog to share these diagnoses more broadly. I spend countless hours planning research, conducting it in the field, and working on papers to get published in the journals of my field. If I don’t share that knowledge, then it is wasted. I’ll do my best to keep it simple and not too preachy. I hope that you find it interesting enough to come back, and if you leave knowing a little more about all that goes into healthy fisheries then I’ll be happy.