Nikki Marschke

2010 JISAO Research Internship

Analyzing the diets of Pacific herring

Nikki Marschke in labThis summer, I was honored to intern for JISAO at the University of Washington School of Fishery and Aquatic Sciences. I am entering my junior year at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, as an environmental science and environmental policy double major. I've known that I wanted to study environmental science since I was in middle school and this summer internship has helped focus my interests.

I was privileged to work in Dave Beauchamp's lab in the School of Fishery and Aquatic Science. My research focused on Pacific herring caught in Puget Sound. I preformed diet analyses on the herring to determine what they are eating. I compared the proportions of zooplankton the herring were eating for different ages of herring caught at various times of the year. I also measured the lengths of the main prey types to determine if the size of the prey changes with the size of the herring or season.

Herring are a dominant forage fish in Puget Sound, this means that a large amount of predators rely upon herring as their food source. Studying their diets helps to measure the impact herring are having on other populations of both zooplankton and competing fish. Herring eat very similar prey to other fish in the Puget Sound such as Chinook salmon and surf smelt. I found that herring diets vary by age and season in Pacific herring being measuredthe Puget Sound. Understanding more about where herring fit into the food web in Puget Sound broadens our knowledge on what might be causing their population to decline.

When I wasn't working I was able to explore the city of Seattle and other parts of Washington. I especially enjoyed our intern trip to Mt. Rainier and canoeing on Lake Washington. I am very thankful to JISAO for selecting me for this internship and making my experience in Seattle very special. Dave Beauchamp, Liz Duffy, and Erin Lowery from the Beauchamp Lab went out of their way to help me this summer, and I am truly thankful to have worked with such wonderful people. After this experience, I have a better idea of what I want to pursue in graduate school.


Research poster

Nikki's research poster

Click poster to enlarge image [PDF]