The mission of the Fisheries Pathobiology Team is to better understand the role that disease plays in altering distribution patterns and productivity of fish and shellfish populations. Mortalities are the most remarkable consequence of disease, but secondary disease affects such as altered or reduced growth rates, reduced fecundity, compromised immunity and altered behavior can have significant population effects. Collectively, these factors are less well studied, but their general outcome is an overall reduction of “fitness” - or viability - of a population.
The complex relationships between disease, populations, and environment require the Pathobiology Team to adopt a more holistic approach to their research through independent and collaborative investigation. Such collaborations are critical in light of the many types of encountered population stressors, both communicable (e.g., viruses to metazoan parasites) and non-communicable (e.g., pollution), the diversity of possible affected populations (e.g., fish, shellfish, marine mammals, etc.) and the area of study (e.g., North Pacific).
Ultimately, the Team’s focus is environmental health because epizootics often reflect major shifts in the interactions between the host, pathogen and environment. Understanding the role of disease in the aquatic environment helps improve predictive population models, and subsequently, aides in resource management decision making.