Up a Creek with Chinook Salmon

John Stumbos University of California, Davis
Swapping vacation for valuable experience

Alyssa Obester downloads temperature data from Butte Creek to take back to a laboratory at UC Davis

In 2013 Alyssa Obester was a senior majoring in Environmental Science and Management who chose to spend her summer gathering vital information to help a threatened strain of Chinook salmon.

She worked as a field assistant to UC Cooperative Extension specialist Lisa Thompson, who was studying the habitat of spring-run Chinook salmon in Butte Creek. Water diversions and other environmental factors have reduced the Central Valley spring-run Chinook population, which numbered 1 million historically, to about 10,000. The Sierra Nevada creek near Chico, Calif., is home to the largest remaining stock of the fish, receiving about 6,000 spawners each year.

Getting to the field site meant negotiating tough terrain in a wet suit on hot summer days, then walking and swimming a mile up Butte Creek to deep pools where data loggers record information about water temperature and the aquatic environment. The study results could help improve survival for spring-run Chinook in the warming waters of a changing climate.

“It was a valuable experience because I had the opportunity to apply skills from various classes in a real-life experience,” Obester said. “It definitely gave me insight into how much work goes into one study, and an appreciation of the effort that goes into every paper that I read.”

Student News

Helping hands

Apr 16, 2018 Student volunteers serve the community in Monterey County

Student News - More Student News…
Research News

UC Davis Receives Unique, $1.5 Million Gift from Aggie Couple

Jul 07, 2016 Michael and Joelle Hurlston have pledged $1.5 million to endow a first-of-its-kind chair position.

Research News - More Research News…
Outreach News

Summer Internships

Jul 28, 2015 CA&ES students and Salinas Valley employers find common ground.

Outreach News - More Outreach News…
News archive
Advanced Search
Web Editors

Content in this section is managed by the Communications Team & Caren Weintraub. If you have any suggestions or need something changed, please contact her at