Joel Harding

Joel Harding with big fish

Current position: PhD student




Raincoast Conservation Foundation
Salmon Coast Field Station
Calling From The Coast

Pacific salmon migrations constitute the largest nutrient transfer from marine to freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest. In spite of significant freshwater and riparian research on salmon-derived nutrients, the significance of this nutrient pulse in the transitional zone between earth and ocean is relatively unknown.  Estuaries depend on nutrient input from both terrestrial and marine environments. These inputs are mediated by factors including watershed size, hydrological regimes and tidal patterns. Coastal streams influence estuarine nutrient dynamics year-round by acting as primary conveyors of terrestrial nutrients to the ocean and as transport routes for nutrients derived from salmon carcasses. Estuaries may receive over half of all salmon-derived nutrients from streams. I am analyzing stable isotopes (d15N and d13C) as metrics of nutrient uptake in multiple trophic levels from 20 estuaries in salmon-bearing watersheds on the central coast of British Columbia. I am investigating patterns in heavy isotope ratios across natural salmon spawning biomass gradients, and watershed-scale habitat gradients to test for the ecological significance of salmon-derived nutrients as a subsidy in estuaries.


DeBruyn, A. M. H., M. Trudel, N. Eyding, J. Harding, H. McNally, R. Mountain, C. Orr, D. Urban, S. Verenitch and A. Mazumder (2006) Ecosystemic effects of salmon farming increase mercury contamination in wild fish. Environmental Science and Technology 40, 3489-3493.

Harding, J. (2003) The Kitasoo abalone stewardship project: small project, big hopes [Abstract]. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2482, 20-22.