NoWPaS 2020

University of Iceland, Lake Laugarvatn, March 3rd-7th 2020

35 delegates, 4 keynote speakers and 1 invited speaker

Blog about NoWPaS 2020

NoWPaS, the International (formerly Nordic) Workshop for PhD and Post-doctoral fellows working on Anadromous Salmonids, is an annual workshop which consists entirely of early career researchers (ECRs). The workshop, which is organised by a small committee of PhDs and post-doctoral fellows, allows a small group ECRs to come together in a welcoming environment to present their research and discuss ideas. The workshop truly facilitates networking and the development of research on salmonids. The workshop is hosted in a different country every year; it has previously been held in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Canada, Ireland, England and Scotland. This year, for the first time since NoWPaS was created in 2005, the workshop was held in Iceland. A total of 35 delegates from 12 countries joined in scenic Laugarvatn, supported by the University of Iceland, where they networked and shared research and ideas for 5 days. The delegates were joined by four keynotes from four different countries, and one special invited guest.

Presentations were categorized into five broad sessions: 1) Physiology (sponsored by Loligo Systems ©), 2) Ecology and Behaviour with a special session on Telemetry (sponsored by Vemco), 3) Conservation and Management, and 4) Evolution and Genetics. We were honoured to be joined by four iconic keynote speakers who kicked off each session. Dr. Erika Eliason, from the University of California Santa Barbara (United States of America), discussed her research on the physiology of pacific salmon, with particular focus on how they may cope with environmental changes associated with climate change. Professor Kim Aarestrup, from the Technical University of Denmark (Denmark), discussed telemetry methods and how they can be used to explore salmonid behaviours, understand their distributions and habitat use, as well as better manage them along their migration routes. Dr. Steven Cooke, from Carleton University (Canada), joined us to discuss the freshwater biodiversity crisis, and potential ways to mitigate human-induced impacts on salmonids. Dr. Cooke also discussed these issues in the context of early-career researchers, and our role in creating dialogues with stakeholders to conserve and manage species. Lastly, Dr. Camille Leblanc, from Holar University (Iceland), discussed how salmonid biodiversity and species differences evolved, and the processes by which they are maintained. This year, the committee also added a fifth session dedicated to salmon research in celebration of the International Year of the Salmon (sponsored in part by the Atlantic Salmon Trust and Fisheries Society of the British Isles).

Our ECR delegates filled each session with excellent presentations. Study species varied greatly, making this NoWPaS workshop (probably) the most diverse yet. Species included Atlantic salmon (anadromous and landlocked), brown trout, Arctic charr, Dolly Varden, whitefish, sockeye salmon, bull trout and coho salmon. Research topics also varied greatly, from the molecular level, all the way to population level; genetics, scale and otolith research, cardiorespiratory biology, thermal performance, gut microbiome, diseases, energetics, reproductive biology, migration, habitat use, population differences, barrier passage, management, social sciences and climate change were some of the topics discussed.

This year, the group was also joined by two special invited guests, Dr. Steven Campana and Dr. Sigurður Snorrason, from the University of Iceland. Dr. Campana spent an evening with the delegates to discuss his research on lake trout in the Canadian Arctic, providing the group with insights on how to conduct daring research ideas, while Dr. Snorrason spent a few days accompanying delegates and sharing discussions.

A key aspect of the NoWPaS ethos is not only to enable the networking and exchange of information between and amongst delegates and keynotes, but to experience and learn about the salmonid research carried out in the host country as well as to immerse themselves in the local culture. Prior to the kick-off of the workshop, the group spent a day visiting facilities where salmonid research is conducted in Iceland. We first joined Star-Oddi (who also sponsored this year’s workshop) to learn about their technological developments to track fish, and received a presentation on recent advancements. We then joined Vaki (who also sponsored this year’s workshop) to explore their facilities, and their Riverwatcher © in particular. The group then headed to the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute to check out their aquaculture and research facilities where delegates learned about the salmonid research occurring there, but also research pertaining to other species (including lumpfish, cod, wolfish and turbot).

A true Icelandic experience would not be complete without experiencing glíma (Icelandic wrestling) and the so-called hot pots (geothermal hot water pools). Our delegates experienced both throughout the week in Laugarvatn, as we were joined by the former glíma Queen of Iceland, Svana Hrönn Jóhannsdóttir. The group further visited Lake þingvallavatn and the famous geyser, with Sigurður Snorrason as our guide.

The new committee is already hard at work, planning NoWPaS 2021, which we are excited to announce will be held in France (date to be announced). If you are a PhD student or an early career post-doctoral fellow (<2 years), and are interested in attending NoWPaS 2021, please follow us on Twitter (@NoWPaS), Instagram (@nowpas), or request to join our Facebook group (NoWPaS-Salmonid Network). You can also find out more information on our website, www.nowpas.eu. We will be posting updates about how to register later in the year, and we also share exciting new salmonid research throughout the year. The gripping enthusiasm for keeping the NoWPaS momentum going at the end of the meeting guarantees that this workshop continues to be a favourite among salmonid biologists!

A sincere ‘thank you’ goes to all 35 delegates, 4 keynotes and invited speakers for joining us in Laugarvatn this year. The committee would also like to extend sincere gratitude to our generous sponsors, without whom this wouldn’t be possible.

Here’s to an exciting future for salmonid research!

The NoWPaS 2020 committee

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