Conservation physiology is a powerful tool to help answer questions about how the environment affects fish. This is because studying the physiology of individual fish helps us learn about the actual causes that drive the response of whole fish populations to changes in the environment. By studying factors like fish swimming performance, heart rate, oxygen consumption, and survival under a variety of conditions, we can pinpoint the exact environmental variables that affect fish individuals and populations, such as temperature or flow. This efficient approach is very valuable for managing fish in California waterways, especially in times of limited water supply.
Christine is interested in using physiological studies to help understand why fish populations succeed or fail in changing ecosystems. This began with her Ph.D. studies at the University of British Columbia in Canada, where she studied the physiology of rainbow trout populations stocked in lakes for sport fishing, and identified the mechanisms driving poor survival of some rainbow trout populations (Verhille and Farrell 2012; Verhille et al. 2013). She also studied the effects of increased temperature on the physiology of sockeye salmon (Steinhausen et al. 2008). Since moving to California and working at UC Davis, Christine has studied the physiology of green and white sturgeon (Verhille et al. 2014), Sacramento splittail, Delta smelt, and steelhead trout. Based on her efforts helping with the spring planting at FISHBIO Farms, we’re excited to see the fruits of her work with us.