US Forest Service Research & Development
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  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Ashley Steel

Ashley Steel

Supervisory Mathematical Statistician
400 N 34th St., Suite 201
United States

Phone: 206-732-7823
Contact Ashley Steel

Current Research

My research explores the role of variability in ecological systems. Currently I am working on a series of projects to understand and predict water temperature patterns in rivers.  I maintain a monitoring array of water temperature sensors on the Snoqualmie River that have been recording data every 30-min for over six years and have been conducting experiments on the role of temperature fluctuations in early Chinook salmon life history.  We apply spatial stream network models to understand what might be driving observed patterns of river temperature and to make predictions about facets of the thermal regime that matter to the fish, either in unmeasured parts of the river network or in the future.  We are now collecting water samples for stable isotope analyses that will explore how the source of water, rain versus snow, is distributed on the network, how the distribution shifts by season, and how it may be altered with changing patterns of precipitation.

Research Interests

  • Water temperature on river networks
  • Landscape influences on rivers
  • Communicating statistics and uncertainty
  • Science and statistics education

Past Research

My past research has included wavelet decomposition to quantify complex thermal regimes and establish the effects of dams on water temperature, the use of model sensitivity analysis on a complex salmon habitat model used in salmon recovery planning, development of a scenario-based decision-support tool that outputs spatially-explicit tradeoffs across river restoration strategies, and the linkage of landscapes to salmon distribution across watersheds.

Why This Research is Important

Variability is a fundamental element of ecological systems. Understanding how human actions might reduce or increase variability in, for example, river temperatures, is essential for informed watershed management. By quantifying and communicating uncertainty or variability in model output, scientists and managers can better understand the range of potential outcomes and the likelihood of particular desired or undesired results.


  • University of Washington, Ph.D. Quantitative Ecology 1999
  • University of Washington, M.S. Statistics 1996
  • University of Washington, M.S. River Ecology 1993
  • Duke University, B.S. Sociology 1988

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Last updated on : 05/02/2018