Kris Homel

Kris Homel, PhD Candidate


Department of Ecology
29 AJM Johnson Hall
MSU-Bozeman, MT 59717

Phone 406-994-1823

M.S. Fisheries Biology. 2006. Utah State University

B.S. Environmental Studies. 2001. University of Utah

B.A. Political Science. 2001. University of Utah

Research Interest
My research interests include: 1) fish-habitat relationships, 2) relative influence of genetics and environment on behavior, 3) behavioral adaptations in the context of global climate change, and 4) effects of environmental pollution on population dynamics, behavioral patterns, and life history evolution.

Current Projects
PhD Dissertation In progress. Landscape-scale factors influencing life-history organization of Snake River finespotted cutthroat trout in the upper Snake River

River networks are dynamic hierarchical systems characterized by variation in physical patterns and processes across scales. Collectively, these heterogeneous habitats form the physical template that influences the distribution and organization of biota. Fish connect specific habitat types (i.e., spawning, rearing, feeding, and refugia) through time with movement across a range of spatiotemporal scales. Behavioral variation within and among life-history strategies may also play an important role in the distribution of fishes in rivers. In fact, fish exhibiting different life-history strategies may partition habitat spatially or temporally..

Cutthroat trout exhibit anadromous, potamodromous, and non-migratory life-history strategies. Anadromous cutthroat trout spawn in streams and spend a portion of their lives in coastal waters. Potamodromous cutthroat trout may spawn in streams (fluvial), or move from streams into a tributary (fluvial-adfluvial), a lake into a tributary (lacustrine-adfluvial), or a lake into the outflow (allucustrine) to spawn. Individual cutthroat trout of each reproductive strategy express substantial variation in the timing and frequency of spawning, the length of time that immature life stages reside in the natal stream, and the migration patterns that link seasonal habitat. Research on cutthroat trout life-history diversity has often been conducted in small headwater streams or lake-stream networks, and there are few studies related to the behavior of fluvial cutthroat trout in large rivers. In fact, there are few large river systems where migration is still possible throughout a complex network of streams. Thus, little is known about how cutthroat trout use seasonal habitats and migratory corridors in large rivers, at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.

In the upper Snake River, native Snake River finespotted cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii behnkei) provide a unique opportunity to evaluate the life-history organization of a native cutthroat trout in a large connected river network. Snake River finespotted cutthroat trout are distributed throughout the watershed (which comprises the majority of their native range) and express multiple life-history strategies. Although two large dams and many small impoundments and diversions exist in the upper Snake River watershed, a great deal of connectivity remains, providing the potential for a diverse array of life-history strategies. For my dissertation research, I will address the following questions:

  • How does the physical template of large river networks influence life-history diversity, life history organization, and population dynamics of potamodromous trout?
  • What is the life-history organization of Snake River finespotted cutthroat trout in the upper Snake River below Jackson Lake Dam?
  • What is the relationship between life-history strategy and segment-scale physical attributes, and the seasonal persistence, immigration, emigration, and mortality of radio-tagged Snake River finespotted cutthroat trout in the upper Snake River between Jackson Lake Dam and Moose Junction?

Homel, K. and R. E. Gresswell. 2010. Spawning Migration Patterns of Native Cutthroat Trout in the Upper Snake River. Pages XX-XX in R. F. Carline and C. LoSapio, editors. Wild Trout X: Conserving Wild Trout. Wild Trout Symposium, Bozeman, Montana.

Homel, K., and P. Budy. 2008. Temporal and spatial variability in the migration patterns of juvenile and subadult bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in Northeast Oregon. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 137(3):869-880.

Homel, K., P. Budy, T. Whitesel, M. Pfrender, L. and K. Mock. 2008. Evaluating genetic structure among resident and migratory forms of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in Northeast Oregon. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 17(3):465-474.

Homel, K. 2006. Evaluating the genetic population structure and movement patterns of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in Northeast Oregon. Masters Thesis. Utah State University.