Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
What do fisheries biologists do in the winter?
Midwest Region, December 15, 2007
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Most fisheries projects consist primarily of summer field seasons.  This is the time when we are seen and have interaction with the public. On those prefect summer days when the temperature is 85 degrees and there isn’t a cloud in the sky, we have been told that we have the perfect job, and we do.  


But what about the other half of the year when most field work is completed? What are the biologists doing?  While some field projects continue year round, for others it is a time to regroup, repair, write and prepare for the next field season that comes too quickly and at the same time not soon enough.  We all enjoy the summer field work, but there is much more to be done.


The field season continues through the winter months for the pallid sturgeon monitoring project.  Winter can be a lonely time on the Missouri River with short and cold days. Many river access points are unusable due to low water or ice. Winter is complete with snow and hazardous ice flows on the river.  Normally under these conditions, field work is suspended, but there have been occasions when conditions have turned inclement and nets have had to be retrieved in less than ideal conditions. 


Field collection of biological data, while most visible, is just one portion of a project.  Data by itself is of little use if the information is not disseminated to others. A large portion of the “off-season” is spent analyzing the previous field seasons’ data. Much of this analysis is done by office staff although some complex analysis has been performed with assistance of universities, partner offices and USGS-BRD. We provide annual reports to our funding agencies. This allows the funding agency to see how there money was spent and if progress is being made to answer the project objectives. Oral and written presentations are another avenue for the dissemination of information. Getting presentations to look “just right” is a time-consuming challenge.


Reports and presentations have a tendency to distribute information to a local or regional audience. Professional journal articles or peer reviewed papers are a good vehicle to distribute what we have learned around the globe.  Journal articles must be written to the specifications of each journal, this includes writing style, format and layout.  It is a different writing style than that used for most other types of writing (like this article).


Although much of the work that a fisheries biologist does during the winters’ off season is “behind the scenes”, it is just as important as the field work during summer where we are seen by the public.  What are we doing during winter?  We are finishing the work we started during the summer field season.    

Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov
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