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Tiokowe, better known as "Hooligans" to the local community, are also known as Longfin Smelt - Spirinchus thaleichthys. We understand that the Nooksack River population of Longfin Smelt has declined from its previous size based on the traditional ecological knowledge of the Lummi People. The Lummi People share an important cultural relationship with Tiokowe, and the staff at the SSRC are conducting research to understand more about the life history and biology of the Nooksack River population, to better protect and care for this species.  

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Assessing population size and structure of the longfin smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthys) in the Nooksack River

National Science Foundation Award #1622492

A goal of the Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP) is to increase the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) instructional and research capacities of specific institutions of higher education that serve the Nation's indigenous students. Expanding the STEM curricular offerings at these institutions expands the opportunities of their students to pursue challenging, rewarding careers in STEM fields, provides for research studies in areas that may be culturally significant, and encourages a community and generational appreciation for science and mathematics education. This project aligns directly with that goal, and moreover will increase the body of knowledge on the population dynamics of longfin smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthys), an important species of forage fish that is not protected nor its catch monitored.

Northwest Indian College (NWIC) has been conducting studies that aims to (1) determine temporal genetic structure of the Nooksack River longfin smelt population; (2) determine the existence of a genetic bottleneck; (3) estimate the effective population size; and (4) consider the conservation implications of these findings. At the local level, the data from this study aids management decisions by both state and tribal agencies. At the national level, the genetic information acquired in this study adds to the overall knowledge of distinct population segments of longfin smelt. These data aid multiple agencies that cross international and state lines in assessing other populations of longfin smelt and whether they constitute distinct population segments. In addition, the information collected during this study provides baseline data for the effective population size of the Nooksack River longfin smelt population. These data are used to assess future trends in population size in the light of changing river conditions, development of or near the Nooksack River riparian habitat, and in the face of climate change and ocean acidification. And lastly, the information gained from this study adds to the limited understanding of the basic biology of the longfin smelt by making the data available to other researchers, management agencies, and the general public.

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