UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A researcher in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences recently received an Excellence in Science Award from the U.S. Geological Survey for outstanding research.
Tyler Wagner, adjunct professor of fisheries ecology, was recognized for the quality and quantity of his studies related to the Eastern brook trout. Wagner also is assistant unit leader for the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, one of 40 such units funded by the U.S. Geological Survey at universities across the nation.
Wagner has published 22 peer-reviewed manuscripts since January 2014, with 11 published in the past fiscal year, according to John Organ, chief of the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units. He noted that Wagner's work on the conservation and management of Eastern brook trout -- a species of conservation concern throughout its native range -- may play a key role in protecting remaining stocks of wild trout.
"Wagner's and his students' work over the past year on Eastern brook trout populations and the fish's habitat made a substantial impact on conservation and management activities throughout the species native range in the eastern United States," he said. "Products from his modeling work have been used by a variety of conservation and management agencies and by other research groups funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service."
For example, Organ pointed out, a regional brook trout species distribution model is being used by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to help prioritize streams for the agency's Unassessed Waters Program, and The Nature Conservancy is using the model to prioritize culverts for removal, as part of the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative.
Also using Wagner's regional brook trout species distribution model, Organ explained, is an Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative-funded project titled "Interactive Conservation Planning for the Appalachian LCC," which is funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the goal of coordinating a broad-scale conservation effort by prioritizing terrestrial and aquatic areas of conservation interest.
A North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative Aquatic Habitat Assessment, titled "Chesapeake Bay Watershed Brook Trout Habitat and Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment," is using the model as well.
Wagner's work on Eastern brook trout also earned him the 2015 National Fish Habitat Award for Excellence in Scientific Achievement from the National Fish Habitat Partnership and the Habitat Section of the American Fisheries Society, in support of fish habitat conservation work for Eastern brook trout. That award recognized outstanding achievement in the use of science to improve fish habitat conservation.