Rebecca Quiñones, Postdoctoral Scholar,Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis
SCA Research Assistant, Salmon River Ranger District,
Klamath National Forest, 1994
University of California at Davis
(PhD in Conservation Ecology)
Humboldt State University (MS in Fish Biology)
University of Vermont (BA in Wildlife & Fish Biology)
Center for Watershed Sciences
University of California at Davis
Rebecca Quinones was among the first students to join SCA’s Greater Yellowstone Recovery Corps in 1989. As you can read in this September 1989 article from the Chicago Tribune, Rebecca was already pursuing her interest in marine biology as a high school student, volunteering at the New England Aquarium. But the SCA was a whole new experience. “The first time I heard a coyote, it really freaked me,” she said. Every day on the trail started with retrieving food from bear bags, strung 15 feet in the air to keep grizzlies at bay. But as the crew progressed so did Rebecca’s comfort in wilderness settings. “The first week, our crew hardly spoke to each other, and I wondered why I had chosen to get up so early every day during summer vacation… but by the end I hated to leave the friends I made.”
Since then, Rebecca has earned an MS in Fish Biology and a PhD in Conservation Ecology, and she now works as a postdoctoral field researcher at the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis, where she continues to pursue the outdoor lifestyle she first experienced with SCA.
What led you down the path to SCA?
I chose to volunteer for SCA because of its reputation for providing hands-on experiences in conservation. And I wanted to work in a beautiful setting –Yellowstone National Park is spectacular!
What was your most memorable moment on the Greater Yellowstone Recovery Corps?
There isn’t just one. My work with the Recovery Corps was the first time I did field work, so there were many memorable moments… hiking through a forest post-wildfire… setting up bear lines… seeing elk and moose… learning to build solid stringer bridges… and having a camp with BOTH cold and hot water streams nearby!
How did SCA impact your life and career?
My SCA experiences established the connection between science and conservation that I still draw on today. That is to say, I use my research in the application of improving endangered species protection. I have been studying California freshwater fishes, as an academic researcher and resource manager, since 1994 (starting with my internship as a Research Assistant with SCA). My current research examines the synergistic effects of global climate change, land use practices, and fisheries management on inland fishes in California. These analyses help resource managers identify where and when different populations may experience bottlenecks and areas that can serve as biodiversity reserves.
This research is significant as the first to look at impacts from climate change concurrently with other factors that drive population abundances at multiple temporal and spatial scales. Our group is also closely monitoring the effects of unprecedented drought and varying levels of habitat degradation on fish assemblages and ecosystem recovery. This summer, we have been evaluating the combined effects of habitat degradation and extreme drought on fish community structure in streams throughout the state.
The questions that drive my research are directly drawn from my experiences as a fisheries biologist for the U.S. Forest Service, a position I held for 11 years (2001-2012). My career is based on the belief that science should be directly applied to make informed management decisions, particularly where threatened and endangered species are concerned.
What’s your favorite thing about your current position at UC Davis?
I get to play with fish all day!
Want to hear more from Rebecca about her work? Check out this online webinar about how climate change is threatening California fish populations.
Read Jay Satz’s brief history of the Greater Yellowstone Recovery Corps here.