My research takes an ecosystem approach to exploring how aquatic systems are organized and respond to changes in the broader environmental. In particular I am interested in how aquatic ecosystems respond to changing climate and land-use, and interact with fisheries. I pursue most of my current research in southwest Alaska as a principal investigator of the Alaska Salmon Program that has studied Pacific salmon, their ecosystems, and their fisheries in western Alaska since the 1940s. As part of this program, my research group seeks to understand how watersheds function in terms of: 1) capturing, storing and transporting water, 2) processing nutrients and carbon, 3) providing habitat for plankton, insects, fishes, birds and large predators such as bears, 4) supporting ecosystem services to people (e.g., commercial and recreational fisheries) and 5) how geomorphic attributes of watersheds regulate these processes and services. Of particular interest is in understanding how the physical and biological complexity of watersheds affects the resilience of their functions to changes in regional environmental changes such as shifting climate or changes in fisheries.
I also pursue research on aquatic systems in Washington state where we are interested in how urbanization and climate change affect ecosystem function and services in this region. Here we use comparative approaches to explore how changing land-use affects terrestrial-aquatic interactions. We also maintain a long-term study of limnological changes in Lake Washington that has allowed us to evaluate how aquatic ecosystems respond to changing climate, recovery from eutrophication, and changes to food web structure and species composition over the last 50 years.