Mother Earth Journal: Discovery by Umatilla scientist may save Pacific lamprey

From Mother Earth Journal:

The Pacific lamprey is the most ancient of the native fish in the Pacific Northwest. This eel-like fish, which evolved more than 500 million years ago plays an integral part in the cultures of the Columbia River tribes.

But their numbers are spiraling downward.

Now, a University of British Columbia professor and member of one of the Columbia River’s treaty fishing tribes has discovered an ancient stress hormone that could help with lamprey conservation efforts.

“This new discovery is a significant contribution for understanding the evolution of the stress hormone signaling pathway in vertebrates,” said Close. “In addition, there is now a practical tool to monitor stress in these ancient fish, whether working on sea lamprey control or Pacific lamprey conservation.”

He published his findings in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences Early Edition in July.

He began his career in the fisheries program at the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation in Northeastern Oregon. A Cayuse enrolled in the Umatilla Tribes, he published oral histories of tribal elders, who helped him to understand the biology of the Pacific lamprey and who charted its decline starting in the 1970s.