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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project

Applying Portfolio Theory to Improve Spatial Recovery Planning for Pacific Salmon

Group Members: Alicia Canales, Jaden Husser, Stephanie Luu, Olivia Somhegyi

Faculty Advisors: Tamma Carleton, Kyle C. Meng

Client: Wild Salmon Center




The Oregon Coast coho salmon has been greatly impacted by human development and overfishing, which led to them being listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 1983. Our project, in collaboration with the Wild Salmon Center, applies modern portfolio theory (MPT) to a conservation context to better inform conservation decisions regarding the Oregon Coast coho salmon evolutionary significant unit (ESU). ESUs are subsections of a species that are important to conserve to maintain the genetic diversity of that species. MPT is a financial method used by investors to decide which investments will give them maximum returns with minimal risk. In recent years, this methodology has been adapted into the conservation field to provide validity to conservation decisions. It has also been used in fisheries to help determine sustainable catch. Since Oregon Coast coho salmon are not currently harvested, our project instead seeks to understand the optimal distribution of conservation actions and dollars across the 21 populations in the ESU. This will help create a tool that the Wild Salmon Center can use to guide their conservation actions. With increasing pressures from human development and climate change, utilizing technical methods in conservation, such as MPT, can foster innovative thinking towards solving resultant environmental problems.

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