Hello to all the regular readers as well as the new folks visiting from Tangled Bank this week. Things will likely be slow for a while here but it is for a good purpose, trust me.

I am moving this week to start graduate school in aquatic ecology at University of Idaho. I will be working with Dr. Brian Kennedy in the Water Resources Program on a Masters project in salmon otolith microchemistry and life history analysis.

The non-technical way of putting this is that I will be plucking out the ear bones of salmon and analyzing them much like you would the rings of a tree. Strontium isotopes are different for every river and stream due to changes in underlying geology. These isotopes are deposited in the "tree rings" of the fishes ear bones. With this knowledge in mind you can decipher where a fish has been along its migration route over it's entire lifespan. Further analysis of the ear bone can give you the fish's age, allowing you to know with amazing accuracy the date that a fish was in a particular river or stream.

This information is vital to understanding the dynamics of a species' migration and how this is effected by dams, fishing, global warming, genetics, and any number of other factors. I hope to expand the research in salmon as well as expand the technique to other migratory species about which we know very little.

With the start of school I am considering turning this blog into more of a science/"trials and tribulations of a grad" student blog. We will see in what direction I head, but I think no matter where it goes it will be quite a ride. Hang on!

Wish me luck! Moving across the country with a three year old is not an easy task. I will keep you updated on my progress as time allows.