Making fishing better… with science!
Who We Are
As one of the nation’s foremost aquatic conservation organizations, Trout Unlimited works hard to ensure its efforts to protect, reconnect, restore and sustain coldwater fisheries and their watersheds are based on the best available science. Our science staff ensure we promote science-based policy, help guide where and how the organization conducts its conservation efforts, provide tools for more effective conservation planning and ground-work, and conduct original research with a host of collaborators. Our national network of over 30 scientists and support staff work broadly in the arenas of conservation research, conservation planning, monitoring and evaluation, and science engagement.
What we do
Our scientists have specialized skills in conservation genetics, web mapping & data visualization, fisheries and ecology, population modeling, entomology, hydrology, engineering, restoration and remote sensing. We provide scientific guidance for policy and conservation planning and assessment efforts, and develop persuasive technical and communication tools for programs within TU. We also engage in primary research, monitoring, and synthesis work with a host of external agency, university and NGO partners.
Aquatic systems are complex and our understanding of how they function continues to evolve. TU scientists conduct a variety of research studies on fish and aquatic habitats. Our findings provide valuable scientific context that can be used by TU and partners to plan restoration and work, verify restoration effectiveness, improve management decisions, and inform policies affecting trout and salmon. We help ensure our efforts are consistent with the most current scientific knowledge of coldwater fisheries and their habitats.
Monitoring and Evaluation
How do we know which populations are at-risk, and whether or not the work we do is helping ensure a better future for fish and their habitats? Monitoring and evaluation are essential components of smart and effective conservation. TU scientists work closely with TU program staff, grassroots and partners to address the why and how of restoration. Understanding the conservation needs of our target species is a first step, and requires a variety of skills and knowledge to evaluate the status of fish and their habitats and characterize important impacts and threats, often at watershed- or range-wide scales. Such science-based evaluation ultimately leads to more effective restoration projects, by ensuring our efforts truly address priority needs. Finally, monitoring is an important component of any restoration activities because it allows us to track the effectiveness of our work and modify future efforts to ensure we are as efficient and effective as possible.
Conservation planning and assessment helps answer “where” questions related to trout and salmon populations to help inform, guide, and contextualize TU’s work. We use the best available information on fisheries resources, habitat conditions and future threats to identify priority areas for protection, reconnection, and restoration. This helps ensure that TU’s place-based work achieves the greatest conservation benefits for the least cost. Our conservation planning products and tools also open opportunities for us to pair with agencies and other partners on broad-scale collaborative work.
Our science is only useful if it advances our basic ecological understanding of the trout and salmon we love and helps to improve their conservation status. An important aspect of our work is communicating our analyses and research in meaningful ways to a variety of audiences, from our peers in the scientific community, to resource managers and policy makers, TU staﬀ, volunteers, and school kids.