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Rebecca Flitcroft

Rebecca Flitcroft stands in the rain beside a stream on Prince of Wales Island, southeast Alaska. In the water behind her, bright-red sockeye salmon are spawning.

Research Fish Biologist,
Team Leader, Landscape and Ecosystem Management

Pacific Northwest Research Station
Corvallis Forestry Sciences Lab

Contact via email
Phone: (541) 750-7346
Fax: (541) 750-7329
USFS R&D Profile
ResearchGate profile
Google Scholar search
Resume (347 KB)

Photo: Rebecca Flitcroft, observing Sockeye Salmon
spawning in a southeast Alaska watershed.

Statement of Research:

My research focuses on Pacific salmonids, multiscale aquatic ecosystem assessments over time, effects of disturbances on aquatic ecosystems and native biota, community-based conservation planning, and aquatic biodiversity. I particularly enjoy opportunities to work in multi-disciplinary groups that allow the complexity of the natural world to be more fully represented in research questions and studies. I also serve as the co-chair of the Freshwater Specialist Group for the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), part of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Projects & Activities:

Juvenile salmonids (Coho Salmon, Oncorhynchus kisutch, and Rainbow Trout, Oncorhyncus mykiss) swim above large cobbles in a coastal Oregon stream.

Juvenile Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) salmon in a coastal Oregon stream. Photo by Kristin Kirkby.

Connectivity of Aquatic Habitats Across Space and Time

Connectivity in river systems occurs across space and over time.
Fishes native to the Pacific Northwest are adapted to natural
disturbance regimes that create dynamic habitat patterns, both
spatially and temporally. By analyzing streams as seasonal
networks of connected and disconnected habitats, we have
developed insights into patterns of habitat occupancy, as well as contextual linkages with broad-scale processes such as landslides and
land management. This work links multiple scales of processes
in order to develop a synthetic understanding of patterns of
aquatic habitat for fishes and other aquatic biota. <Read more>

Partners:  Oregon State University, NOAA Fisheries, University
of Washington, Western Oregon University, Oregon Department of
Fish and Wildlife, University of Oregon, University of California at Merced

Modeled salmonid habitat in the Wenatchee River watershed before and after fire, with projected net change.

Wildfire has the potential to alter habitat quality for different life stages of native fishes. We modeled life-stage habitat characteristics pre- and post-fire, finding a potential overall increase in habitat quality for spring Chinook Salmon in the Wenatchee River watershed, WA.
Figure 5 from Flitcroft et al. 2016 For. Ecol. Mgmt.

Disturbance Processes and Native Fishes

Native aquatic species are adapted to survive in the range of environmental
conditions present in their natural habitats. This adaptation reflects past survival
and reproduction by members of the population. In the Pacific Northwest, few
species have such diverse behaviors as salmonids. This reflects the complexity
of their genetic lineage and allows them to survive in remarkably variable and
dynamic stream conditions. The effect of global climate change may be
experienced differently by salmon in different habitats throughout the stream
network. <Read more>

Partners:  Oregon State University, Environmental Protection Agency,
TerrainWorks, U.S. Geological Survey

Members and stakeholders of the Long Tom Watershed Council learn about a restoration project on a landowner-participant’s property near Eugene, Oregon.

Effective social infrastructure that supports science-driven restoration requires integration between social networks and scientists. The Long Tom Watershed Council (LTWC) is an example of an effective social infrastructure that enlists both landowners and scientists to cooperate in stream restoration projects.
Photo courtesy of Cindy Thieman, LTWC.

Integrated Watershed Management for Restoration,
Conservation, and Protection

Land management has often included the installation of barriers
to fish movement and migration, thereby compromising one of
the strongest adaptive behaviors of highly migratory fishes.
Restoration that enhances adaptive behaviors of fishes and
rejuvenates habitats is likely to be most effective in enhancing
population-scale recovery of native fishes. The cooperation
and commitment of all stakeholders is a critical component of
coordinated, science-based ecological restoration at the scale
of a watershed. This core concept for watershed management
is elusive. By working with watershed groups, and exploring
long-term research/management collaborations, we have
contributed case studies as well as insights into useful
approaches for the development of science-based stakeholder
participation in conservation planning. <Read more>

Partners:  Oregon State University, Long Tom Watershed Council,
Charles Sturt University, NOAA Fisheries

Link: Watershed Councils: It Takes a Community to
Restore a Watershed

PNW Research Station Science Findings 129

Fish, Crayfish, and Mussel species diversity in the contiguous 48 United States: all species, 3 insets by taxon.

Aquatic biodiversity is a critical element of national-scale environmental protection and planning. The southeastern United States is a global hotspot for aquatic biodiversity, particularly for crayfish and freshwater mussels. Though they were not considered in our study, it is also a diversity hotspot for salamanders and turtles.

Aquatic Biodiversity

High biodiversity of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems has
been associated with resilience and ecosystem health. Globally,
aquatic biodiversity is declining faster than either terrestrial or
marine biodiversity. Invasive species as well as habitat loss and
disconnection contribute to the decline. We have developed
theoretical and applied work exploring aquatic biodiversity in
aquatic systems. We have also worked to define and map
forest-assocated fishes across the U.S., and mapped patterns
of aquatic biodiversity at regional and national scales to compare
them with threats from climate change and land-management
actions. This work contributes to prioritization of conservation
actions at national, regional, and local scales. <Read more>

Partners:  Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, U.S. Geological Survey

Selected Publications:

Note: Most PDF files linked in the publications section of this page were not created by the USDA Forest Service, and may not be accessible to screen-reader software. Many publications are open access, and links to the html versions on the journal websites are also provided, where applicable.


Bury G, Flitcroft R, Nelson M, Arismendi I, Brooks E. 2021. Forest-associated fishes of the conterminous United States. Water 13: 2528. doi: 10.3390/w13182528

Butler M, Flitcroft R, Giannico G. 2021. Relationship between hydroregime and coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) redd construction in the Smith River, Oregon. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 30: 519–530. https://doi.org/10.1111/eff.12601

Flitcroft R, Kirkland J, Grant G. 2021. Let the fish do the talking: How fish behavior is linked to patterns of temperature and stream discharge. PNW Science Findings 240. Portland, OR: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR.

Hessburg P, Charnley S, Gray A, Spies T, Peterson D, Flitcroft R, Wendel K, Halofsky J, White E, Marshall J. 2021. Climate and wildfire adaptation of inland Northwest US forests. Frontiers in Ecology doi: 10.1002/fee.2408.

Jager H, Long J, Malison R, Brendan M, Rust A, Silva L, Sollmann R, Steel Z, Bowen M, Dunham J, Ebersole J, Flitcroft R. 2021. Resilience of terrestrial and aquatic fauna to historical and future wildfire regimes in western North America. Early View. Ecology and Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8026

Marsh AS, Hayes D, Klein P, Zimmerman N, Dalsimer A, Burkett D, Huebner CD, Rabaglia R, Meyerson L, Harper-Lore B, Davidson J, Emery M, Warziniak T, Flitcroft R, Kerns B, and Lopez V. 2021. Sectoral impacts of invasive species in the United States and approaches to management. In: Poland TM, Patel-Weynand T, Finch D, Ford Miniat C, Hayes DC, Lopez V (eds.) Invasive Species in Forests and Rangelands of the United States. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Verlag.

Seybold SJ, Frankel SJ, Olson DH, Flitcroft R, Kerns RK, Lee JC, Ripley KL, and Munson AS. 2021. Regional summary of invasive species: Northwest region. Appendix. In: Poland TM, Patel-Weynand T, Finch D, Ford Miniat C, Hayes DC, Lopez V (eds.) Invasive Species in Forests and Rangelands of the United States. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Verlag.


Boisjolie B, Flitcroft R, McCoy A. 2020. Restoration of riparian habitats. In: Goldstein M, DellaSala D (eds-in-chief) Encyclopedia of the World’s Biomes. The Netherlands: Elsevier, pp. 430-437. doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-409548-9.12031-7.

Flitcroft R, Kirkland J. 2020. Location, location, location: For Coho Salmon, it’s all about the neighborhood. PNW Science Findings 224. Portland, OR: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.

Flitcroft R, Boisjolie B, Santelmann M. 2020. Fragmentation of riparian protections throughout watersheds. In: Hilty J, Worboys GL, Keeley A, Woodley S, Lausche B, Locke H, Carr M, Pulsford I, Pittock J, White JW, Theobald DM, Levine J, Reuling M., Watson JEM, Ament R, Tabor GM (eds.) Guidelines for Conserving Connectivity through Ecological Networks and Corridors. Best Practice Protected Area Guidelines Series No. 30. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. (https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/PAG-030-En.pdf)

Hessburg PF, Charnley S, Wendel KL, White EM, Singleton PH, Peterson DW, Halofsky JE, Gray AN, Spies TA, Flitcroft RL, White R. 2020. The 1994 Eastside Screens Large-Tree Harvest Limit: review of science relevant to forest planning 25 years later. General Technical Reptort PNW-GTR-990. Portland, OR: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/60635

Lovellford R, Flitcroft R, Lewis S, Santelmann M, Grant G. 2020. Patterns of river discharge and temperature differentially influence migration and spawn timing for coho salmon in the Umpqua River basin, Oregon. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 149: 695–708. https://doi.org/10.1002/tafs.10264


Boisjolie BA, Flitcroft RL, Santelmann MV. 2019. Patterns of riparian policy standards in riverscapes of the Oregon Coast Range. Ecology and Society 24(1): 22. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-10676-240122

Davis CD, Epps CW, Flitcroft RL, Banks MA. 2019. Beyond isolation by distance: Riverscape effects on genetic structure of fall-run Chinook Salmon. In: Hughes RM, Infante DM, Wang L, Chen K, de Freitas Terra D. (eds.) Advances in Understanding Landscape Influences on Freshwater Habitats and Biological Assemblages. American Fisheries Society Symposium 90. Bethesda, MD: American Fisheries Society. ISBN 978-1-934874-56-1.

Flitcroft R, Cooperman MS, Harrison IJ, Juffe-Bignoli D, Boon PJ. 2019. Theory and practice to conserve freshwater biodiversity in the Anthropocene. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 29: 1013–1021. https://doi.org/10.1002/aqc.3187

Flitcroft R, Lewis S, Arismendi I, Davis C, Giannico G, Penaluna B, Santelmann M, Safeeq M, Snyder J. 2019. Using expressed behaviour of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) to evaluate the vulnerability of upriver migrants under future hydrological regimes: Management implications and conservation planning. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 29:1083–1094. Link in Treesearch: https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/5856

Flitcroft R, Santelmann M, Arismendi I. 2019. A review of habitat connectivity research for Pacific salmon in marine, estuary, and freshwater environments. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 55(2): 430–441. https://doi.org/10.1111/1752-1688.12708

Santelmann M, Boisjolie B, Flitcroft R, Gomez M. 2019. Relationships between salt marsh vegetation and surface elevation in Coos Bay estuary, Oregon. Northwest Science. Northwest Science 93 (2): 137–154. https://doi.org/10.3955/046.093.0205 | Link in Treesearch: https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/61567


Beeson HW, Flitcroft RL, Fonstad M, Roering J. 2018. Deep-seated landslides drive variability in valley width and increase connectivity of salmon habitat in the Oregon Coast Range. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 54 (6): 1325–1340. Link in Treesearch: https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/57786

Davis CD, Epps CW, Flitcroft RL, Banks WA. 2018. Refining and defining riverscape genetics: How rivers influence population genetic structure. WIRES Water 5:e1269. https://doi.org/10.1002/wat2.1269

Flitcroft RL. 2018. Vignette. Fisheries 43(9): 443.

Flitcroft R, Clinton P, Christiansen K. 2018. Adding to the toolbox for tidal-inundation mapping in estuarine areas. Journal of Coastal Conservation 22(4): 745–753. doi: 10.1997/s11852-018-0605-1.

Flitcroft RL, Little C, Cabrera J, Arismendi I. 2018. Chapter 10: Planning ecologically: the importance of management at catchment scales. In: Finlayson M, Arthington AH, Pittock J, eds. Freshwater Ecosystems in Protected Areas. New York: Routledge.

Flitcroft R, Penaluna B, Capurso J, Hansen B, Cronn R, McKay D. 2018. Pilot study for multiple aquatic invasive species monitoring. Stream Notes. August 2018. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, National Stream and Aquatic Ecology Center. https://www.fs.fed.us/biology/nsaec/assets/streamnotes2018-08.pdf

Olson DH, Flitcroft RL. 2018. Aquatic-riparian invasive species of the Northwest Forest Plan area. Appendix 1, pp 582–595 in Reeves GH, Olson DH, Wondzell SM, Miller SA, Long JW, Bisson PA, Furniss MJ, The Aquatic Conservation Strategy of the Northwest Forest Plan – A review of the relevant science after 22 years. In: Spies TA, Stine PA, Gravenmier RA, Long JW, Reilly MJ (eds.). Synthesis of Science to Inform Land Management within the Northwest Forest Plan Area. Gen. Tech. Rept. PNW-GTR-966. Portland, OR: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. Vol. 2: 461–624. Link to Appendix 1 only   

Penaluna BE, Reeves GH, Barnett Z, Bisson PA, Buffington JM, Dolloff A, Flitcroft R, Luce DH, Nislow K, Rothlisberger J, Warren M. 2018. Using natural disturbance and portfolio concepts to guide aquatic-riparian ecosystem management. Special Issue. Fisheries 43(9): 406-422. https://doi.org/10.1002/fsh.10097


Boisjolie BA, Santelmann MV, Flitcroft RL, Duncan SL. 2017. Legal ecotones: A comparative analysis of riparian policy protection in the Oregon Coast Range, USA. Journal of Environmental Management 197: 206-220. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2017.03.075

Flitcroft RL, Cerveny LK, Bormann BT, Smith JE, Asah ST, Fischer AP. 2017. The emergence of watershed and forest collaboratives. In: Olson DH, Van Horne B, eds. People, forests, and change - lessons from the Pacific Northwest. Washington, DC/Covelo, CA/London: Island Press: Chapter 9, p 116-130.

Flitcroft RL, Little C, Cabrera J, Arismendi I. 2017. Planning ecologically: The importance of management at catchment scales. In: Finlayson M, Arthington AH, Pittock J. (eds.) Freshwater Ecosystems in Protected Areas. New York: Routledge.

Kirkland J, Flicroft R, Reeves G, Hessburg P. 2017. Adaptation to wildfire: A fish story. Science Findings 198. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.

Penaluna B, Olson D, Flitcroft R, Weber M, Bellmore R, Wondzell S, Dunham J, Johnson S, Reeves G. 2017. Aquatic biodiversity in forests: A weak link in ecosystem services resilience. Biodiversity and Conservation 26 (13):3125–3155.

Steel EA, Muldoon A, Flitcroft RL, Firman JC, Anlauf-Dunn KJ, Burnett KM, Danehy RJ. 2017. Current landscapes and legacies of land-use past: Understanding the distribution of juvenile coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and their habitats along the Oregon Coast, USA. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 74(4): 546-561. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfas-2015-0589


Falke JA, Flitcroft RL, Dunham JB, McNyset KM, Hessburg PF, Reeves GH. 2016. Climate change and vulnerability of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in a fire-prone landscape. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 72(2): 304-318. dx.doi.org/10.1139/cjfas-2014-0098

Flitcroft R, Bottom D, Haberman K, Bierly K, Jones K, Simenstad C, Gray A, Ellingson K, Baumgartner E, Cornwell T, Campbell L. 2016. Expect the unexpected: place-based protections can lead to unforeseen benefits. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 26 (Suppl. 1): 39–59.

Flitcroft RL, Falke JA, Reeves GH, Hessburg PF, McNyset KM, Benda LE. 2016. Wildfire may increase habitat quality for spring Chinook salmon in the Wenatchee River subbasin, WA, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 359: 126-140. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2015.09.049

Flitcroft R, Hansen B, Capurso J, Christiansen K. 2016. Coverage of aquatic invasive risk assessment in USFS Region 6. Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 6. Corvallis, OR: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.

Flitcroft RL, Lewis SL, Arismendi I, LovellFord R, Santelmann MV, Safeeq M, Grant G. 2016. Linking hydroclimate to fish phenology and habitat use with ichthyographs. PLoS ONE 11(12): e0168831. Link to doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0168831

Juffe-Bignoli D, Harrison I, Butchart S, Flitcroft R, Hermoso V, Jonas H, Lukasiewicz A, Theme M, Turak E, Bingham H, and others. 2016. Achieving Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 to improve protected areas performance and conserve freshwater biodiversity. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 26 (Suppl. 1): 133-151.

Penaluna B, Olson D, Flitcroft R, Weber M, Bellmore R, Wondzell S, Dunham J, Johnson S, Reeves G. 2016. Aquatic biodiversity in forests: a weak link in ecological and ecosystem service resilience. Biodiversity and Conservation. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10531-016-1148-0

2015 and earlier

Pittock J, Finlayson M, Arthington AH, Roux D, Matthews JH, Biggs H, Blom E, Flitcroft R, Froend R, Harrison I, Hermoso V, Junk W, Kumar R, Linke S, Nel J, Nunes da Cunha C, Pattnaik A, Pollard S, Rast W, Thieme M, Turak E, Turpie J, van Niekerk L, Willems D, Viers J. 2015. Chapter 19: Managing freshwater, river, wetland and estuarine protected areas. In: Worboys G et al. (eds) Protected Area Governance and Management. World Commission on Protected Areas and ANU Press, Canberra.

Miller S, Flitcroft R. 2014. Linking upslope management actions to in-channel sediment and wood attributes across the US Northwest Forest Plan area. Presentation summary. In: Resource roads in British Columbia: environmental challenges at the site level, May 14-15, 2014, Nelson, British Columbia, Canada. Revelstoke, BC, Canada: Columbia Mountains Institute of Applied Ecology: 79-85.

Flitcroft R, Burnett K, Snyder J, Reeves G, Ganio L. 2014. Riverscape patterns among years of juvenile Coho Salmon in midcoastal Oregon: implications for conservation. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 143: 26-38.

Flitcroft R, Giannico G. 2013. Keeping pace with future environmental conditions in coastal Oregon, USA. Water Resources Impact 15(6): 6-9.

Flitcroft R, Burnett K, Christiansen K. 2013. A simple model that identifies potential effects of sea-level rise on estuarine and estuary-ecotone habitat locations for salmonids in Oregon, USA. Environmental Management 52(1): 196-208. Link to pub at SpringerLink.

Flitcroft RL, Burnett KM, Reeves GH, Ganio LM. 2012. Do network relationships matter? Comparing network and instream habitat variables to explain densities of juvenile coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) in mid-coastal Oregon, USA. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 22: 288-302.

Oliver M, Flitcroft RL. 2011. Watershed councils: it takes a community to restore a watershed. Science Findings 129, January 2011. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/37203

Fullerton AH, Burnett KM, Steel EA, Flitcroft RL, Pess GR, Feist BE, Torgersen CE, Miller DJ, Sanderson BL. 2010. Hydrological connectivity for riverine fish: measurement challenges and research opportunities. Freshwater Biology 55: 2215-2237.

Flitcroft R, Dedrick DC, Smith CL, Thieman CA, Bolte JP. 2010. Trust: the critical element for successful watershed management. Ecology and Society 15(3): r3. URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss3/resp3/

Flitcroft RL, Dedrick DC, Smith CL, Thieman CA, Bolte JP. 2009. Social infrastructure to integrate science and practice: the Experience of the Long Tom Watershed Council. Ecology and Society 14(3):Art36. http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol14/iss2/art36/

Flitcroft RL. 2007. Regions to streams: Spatial and temporal variation in stream occupancy patterns of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) on the Oregon Coast. Doctoral Dissertation, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.

Jones KK, Flitcroft RL, Thom BA. 2001. Spatial patterns of aquatic habitat in Oregon. In: Nishida T, Kailola PJ, Hollingworth CE, eds. Proceedings of the First International Symposium on GIS in Fishery Science (Seattle, WA, USA, 2-4 March 1999). Saitama, Japan: Fishery GIS Research Group: 266-280.