NoWPaS, the International (formerly Nordic) Workshop for PhD and Post-doctoral fellows working on Anadromous Salmonids, is an annual workshop solely for early career researchers (ECRs). The workshop, which is organized by a small committee of PhD students and post-doctoral fellows, allows a small group of PhD students and post-docs to come together in a welcoming environment to network and present their research and ideas. The workshop is hosted in a different country every year. Previously, it has been held in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Canada, Ireland, England and Scotland, Iceland, and virtually in 2021.
The NoWPaS 2021 committee had been excited to host last year’s workshop in the French Basque Country but, unfortunately, extenuating circumstances forced us to plan a virtual workshop instead. While virtual NoWPaS was a great success, everyone was eager for an in-person meeting in 2022. Though there was some uncertainty in the months and weeks leading up to NoWPaS 2022, we were fortunate to be able to gather, one year later than planned, in person in the French Basque Country for NoWPaS 2022. This year, 26 delegates from eight countries participated in a week of activities and talks about ongoing research on anadromous salmonids. Delegates were joined by five keynote speakers (one virtually) from three countries as well as one invited guest for a captivating evening presentation.
Presentations were grouped into six broad sessions: Freshwater Environments – Morphological and Environmental Variation; Genetics and Populations; Telemetry; Populations and Migrations; Modelling Population Dynamics, and; Salmonids, Parasites, and Pathogens. Sessions were sponsored by the FSBI, INRAE, and e2sUPPA. We were honored to be joined by five keynote speakers, who shared with delegates their ongoing research as well as their scientific journeys. Dr. Line Sundt-Hansen from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), who attended the first NoWPaS in 2005, discussed research on salmonid growth and the effects of rapid growth on ecosystems and ecosystem functions. Prof.. Eric Verspoor from the University of the Highlands and Islands spoke about his journey as a researcher and shared advice and lessons learned throughout his career. Dr. Anna Sturrock from the University of Essex talked about using otoliths and microchemistry to understand the movement patterns and life histories of Chinook salmon in California. Dr. Mathieu Buoro from INRAE discussed using monitoring and modeling to understand how populations will respond to climate change. The final keynote talk was delivered virtually by Dr. Geir Bolstad from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), who presented on declining Atlantic salmon sizes in Norwegian rivers, and allele changes that may be associated with this declining size. In addition to our four keynotes, we were joined by Dr. Jacques Labonne from INRAE, who spent an evening with delegates sharing stories from his time working in the Kerguelen (Desolation) Islands and discussing the fates of salmonids that have been introduced to the islands.
ECR delegates gave excellent presentations throughout the week, and the variety of study species and topics ensured there was something of interest to everyone. Delegates presented ongoing research on Arctic char, Atlantic salmon, Chinook salmon, Dolly Varden, and brown trout. Research topics included genetics and epigenetics, morphometrics, movement and migration, otolith research, thermal performance, management, and effects of climate change.
In addition to enabling networking and the exchange of information between and among delegates and keynotes, a key component of the NoWPaS ethos is to learn about salmonid research being done in the host country and to immerse delegates in the local culture. Prior to the start of talks, delegates spent a day learning about salmonid and salmonid conservation research being done in France and Spain. Delegates toured labs and experimental facilities at INRAE ECOBIOP, then traveled to Spain to see a managed weir, an Atlantic salmon hatchery, and a river post-dam removal. In the evening, delegates went to a Basque cidrerie, where they learned about the Basque cider (sagarno) making process, tasted many varieties of sagarno, and enjoyed a traditional meal. Further activities throughout the week included the annual NoWPaS quiz night, a tour of a Basque winery and vineyard, and a walk through a historic Basque town.
NoWPaS 2022 was a very successful and invigorating event, and the new committee is already hard at work planning NoWPaS 2023. The location and dates of next year’s workshop will be announced soon.
A sincere thank you to everyone who helped make NoWPaS 2022 possible; after a virtual NoWPaS 2021, we were all grateful to meet in person again! The committee would also like to extend sincere gratitude to our generous sponsors, without whom NoWPaS would not be possible. A key principle of NoWPaS is that it is free to attend for all participants, including keynote speakers. Transport costs are covered for keynote and guest speakers, and accommodation and food are provided for all participants. We are very proud of this, and it is only possible because of the support of our sponsors.
If you are a PhD student or early career post-doc (<2 years) and are interested in attending NoWPaS 2023, please follow us on Twitter (@NoWPaS) or request to join our Facebook group (NoWPaS-Salmonid Network). You can also find more information on our website, nowpas.eu. We will be posting updates later in the year about how to register for NoWPaS 2023. The delegates’ enthusiasm for salmonid research guarantees that this workshop continues to be a favorite among early career salmonid biologists!