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Michael K. Young

Mike Young

Research Fisheries Biologist

Address: 
800 East Beckwith Avenue
Missoula, MT 59801-5801
Phone: 
406-542-3254
Fax: 
406-543-2663
Contact Michael K. Young

Current Research

Research Interests

My focus is on the ecology, evolution, and sampling of native and nonnative aquatic species in western North America. My research increasingly relies on broad-scale application of genetic tools to answer ecological questions.

Past Research

I have over 90 peer-reviewed publications on the following subjects:

  • The use of environmental DNA sampling for assessing presence of aquatic species
  • The prevalence, extent, and characteristics of movement in aquatic species in streams and rivers
  • The influence of fire on aquatic species
  • The ecology and conservation biology of cutthroat trout
  • Refining estimates of species presence and abundance
  • The effects of nonnative species and their management on native fish populations
  • Large wood: its assessment, role, and dynamics in mountain streams

Why This Research is Important

Federal agencies are charged by Congress with the assessment and monitoring of all native and desired nonnative species in aquatic ecosystems. The intent of my research is to develop one of the largest cohesive biological assessments of fish and amphibians in the U.S. Doing so will set the stage for future monitoring at large spatial scales e.g., entire river basins, National Forest regions, or the historical ranges of focal species. The work serves as an empirical benchmark for detecting, modeling, and understanding the broad-scale effects of climate change or nonnative species invasions. It also provides a conservation atlas to managers who need to know what parts of species—populations, evolutionary lineages, or subspecies—constitute their conservation portfolio, and what areas currently serve as biodiversity hotspots. This research refines methods for detecting and monitoring species to facilitate more precise and accurate estimates of species composition and distribution. Finally, it identifies the expected responses of species to a changing climate and greater demands on aquatic resources.

Education

  • University of Montana, B.S., Wildlife Biology, 1982
  • University of Montana, M.S., Wildlife Biology, 1986
  • University of Wyoming, Ph.D., Zoology, 1989
  • Professional Organizations

    • American Fisheries Society, Lifetime Member ( 1986 to present )
    • Western North American Naturalist, Associate Editor ( 2008 to 2012 )
    • North American Journal of Fisheries, Co-Editor ( 2000 to 2002 )
    • North American Journal of Fisheries, Associate Editor ( 1998 to 1999 )

    Awards

    Best Professional Paper, 2014
    Annual Meeting, Idaho Chapter of the American Fisheries Society
    Award of Excellence, 2011
    This is the most prestigious award offered by the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society. The award is intended to recognize sustained, professional excellence.
    Forest Service Rise to the Future Award for Research, 2008
    Forest Service Rise to the Future Award for Research
    Best Professional Paper, 2003
    Annual meeting of the Colorado-Wyoming and Bonneville Chapters of the American Fisheries Society
    Best Professional Paper, 1991
    Annual meeting of the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the American Fisheries Society

    Featured Publications

    Publications

    Young, Michael K.; Smith, Rebecca J.; Pilgrim, Kristine L.; Fairchild, Matthew P.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2019. Integrative taxonomy refutes a species hypothesis: The asymmetric hybrid origin of Arsapnia arapahoe (Plecoptera, Capniidae)
    Franklin, Thomas; Wilcox, Taylor M.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Greaves, Samuel; Dysthe, Joseph; Young, Michael K.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2019. Repurposing environmental DNA samples to verify the distribution of Rocky Mountain tailed frogs in the Warm Springs Creek Basin, Montana
    Carim, Kellie; Dysthe, Joseph; McLellan, Holly; Young, Michael K.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2019. Using environmental DNA sampling to monitor the invasion of nonnative Esox lucius (northern pike) in the Columbia River basin, USA
    Franklin, Thomas; Dysthe, Joseph; Rubenson, Erika S.; Carim, Kellie; Olden, Julian D.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Young, Michael K.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2018. A non-invasive sampling method for detecting non-native smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu)
    Dysthe, Joseph; Franklin, Thomas; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Young, Michael K.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2018. An improved environmental DNA assay for bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) based on the ribosomal internal transcribed spacer I
    Wilcox, Taylor M.; Zarn, Katherine E.; Piggott, Maxine P.; Young, Michael K.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2018. Capture enrichment of aquatic environmental DNA: A first proof of concept
    Young, Michael K.; Isaak, Daniel J.; Spaulding, Scott; Thomas, Cameron A.; Barndt, Scott A.; Groce, Matthew C.; Horan, Dona; Nagel, David E., 2018. Climate vulnerability of native cold-water salmonids in the Northern Rockies Region [Chapter 5]
    Isaak, Daniel J.; Young, Michael K.; McConnell, Callie; Roper, Brett B.; Archer, Eric K.; Staab, Brian; Hirsch, Christine; Nagel, David E.; Schwartz, Michael K.; Chandler, Gwynne L., 2018. Crowd-sourced databases as essential elements for Forest Service partnerships and aquatic resource conservation
    Isaak, Daniel J.; Young, Michael K.; Tait, Cynthia; Duffield, Daniel; Horan, Dona; Nagel, David E.; Groce, Matthew C., 2018. Effects of climate change on native fish and other aquatic species [Chapter 5]
    Wilcox, Taylor M.; Young, Michael K.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Isaak, Daniel J.; Horan, Dona; Schwartz, Michael K., 2018. Fine-scale environmental DNA sampling reveals climate-mediated interactions between native and invasive trout species
    Franklin, Thomas; Dysthe, Joseph; Golden, Michael; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Hossack, Blake R.; Carim, Kellie; Tait, Cynthia; Young, Michael K.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2018. Inferring presence of the western toad (Anaxyrus boreas) species complex using environmental DNA
    Dysthe, Joseph; Carim, Kellie; Franklin, Thomas; Kikkert, Dave; Young, Michael K.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2018. Molecular detection of northern leatherside chub (Lepidomeda copei) DNA in environmental samples
    Dysthe, Joseph; Rodgers, Torrey; Franklin, Thomas; Carim, Kellie; Young, Michael K.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Mock, Karen E.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2018. Repurposing environmental DNA samples: Detecting the western pearlshell (Margaritifera falcata) as a proof of concept
    Wilcox, T. M.; Carim, Kellie; Young, Michael K.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Franklin, Thomas; Schwartz, Michael K., 2018. The importance of sound methodology in environmental DNA sampling
    Young, Michael K.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Jennings, Tara; Carter, Katie; Cronn, Richard; Keeley, Ernest R.; Loxterman, Janet L.; Pilgrim, Kristine L.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2018. The phylogeography of westslope cutthroat trout
    Mason, Daniel H.; Dysthe, Joseph; Franklin, Thomas; Skorupski, Joseph A.; Young, Michael K.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2018. qPCR detection of Sturgeon chub (Macrhybopsis gelida) DNA in environmental samples
    Carim, Kellie; Dysthe, Joseph; Young, Michael K.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2017. A noninvasive tool to assess the distribution of Pacific lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus) in the Columbia River basin
    Young, Michael K.; Isaak, Daniel J.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Wilcox, Taylor M.; Campbell, Matthew R.; Corsi, Matthew P.; Horan, Dona; Schwartz, Michael K., 2017. Ecological segregation moderates a climactic conclusion to trout hybridization
    Dysthe, Joseph; Carim, Kellie; Ruggles, Michael; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Young, Michael K.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2017. Environmental DNA assays for the sister taxa aauger (Sander canadensis) and walleye (Sander vitreus)
    Carim, Kellie; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Young, Michael K.; Wilcox, Taylor M.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2016. A protocol for collecting environmental DNA samples from streams
    Padgett-Stewart, Ticha M.; Wilcox, Taylor M.; Carim, Kellie; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Young, Michael K.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2016. An eDNA assay for river otter detection: A tool for surveying a semi-aquatic mammal
    Carim, Kellie; Dysthe, Joseph; Young, Michael K.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2016. An environmental DNA assay for detecting Arctic grayling in the upper Missouri River basin, North America
    Carim, Kellie; Wilcox, T. M.; Anderson, M.; Lawrence, D.; Young, Michael K.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2016. An environmental DNA marker for detecting nonnative brown trout (Salmo trutta)
    Carim, Kellie; Christianson, K. R.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Pate, W. M.; Silver, D. B.; Johnson, B. M.; Galloway, B. T.; Young, Michael K.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2016. Environmental DNA marker development with sparse biological information: A case study on opossum shrimp (Mysis diluviana)
    Dysthe, Joseph; Carim, Kellie; Paroz, Yvette M.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Young, Michael K.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2016. Quantitative PCR assays for detecting loach minnow (Rhinichthys cobitis) and spikedace (Meda fulgida) in the southwestern United States
    Wilcox, Taylor M.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Young, Michael K.; Lowe, Winsor H.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2015. Environmental DNA particle size distribution from Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)
    Wilcox, Taylor M.; Carim, Kellie; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Young, Michael K.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2015. The dual challenges of generality and specificity when developing environmental DNA markers for species and subspecies of Oncorhynchus
    Wilcox, Taylor M.; Schwartz, Michael K.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Young, Michael K.; Lowe, Winsor H., 2014. A blocking primer increases specificity in environmental DNA detection of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus)
    Isaak, Daniel J.; Young, Michael K.; Nagel, David E.; Horan, Dona, 2014. Cold water as a climate shield to preserve native trout through the 21st Century
    Jane, Stephen F.; Wilcox, Taylor M.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Young, Michael K.; Schwartz, Michael K.; Lowe, Winsor H.; Letcher, Benjamin H.; Whiteley, Andrew R., 2014. Distance, flow and PCR inhibition: eDNA dynamics in two headwater streams
    Holsinger, Lisa M.; Keane II, Robert E.; Isaak, Daniel J.; Eby, Lisa; Young, Michael K., 2014. Relative effects of climate change and wildfires on stream temperatures: A simulation modeling approach in a Rocky Mountain watershed
    Wenger, Seth J.; Som, Nicholas A.; Dauwalter, Daniel C.; Isaak, Daniel J.; Neville, Helen M.; Luce, Charles H.; Dunham, Jason B.; Young, Michael K.; Fausch, Kurt D.; Rieman, Bruce E., 2013. Probabilistic accounting of uncertainty in forecasts of species distributions under climate change
    Wilcox, Taylor M.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Young, Michael K.; Jane, Stephen F.; Lowe, Winsor H.; Whiteley, Andrew R.; Schwartz, Michael K., 2013. Robust detection of rare species using environmental DNA: The importance of primer specificity
    Campbell, N. R.; Amish, S. J.; Prichard, V. L.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Young, Michael K.; Schwartz, Michael K.; Garza, J. C.; Luikart, G.; Narum, S. R., 2012. Development and evaluation of 200 novel SNP assays for population genetic studies of westslope cutthroat trout and genetic identification of related taxa
    Mahlum, Shad K.; Eby, Lisa A.; Young, Michael K.; Clancy, Chris G.; Jakober, Mike, 2011. Effects of wildfire on stream temperatures in the Bitterroot River basin, Montana
    Wenger, Seth J.; Isaak, Daniel J.; Luce, Charles H.; Neville, Helen M.; Fausch, Kurt D.; Dunham, Jason B.; Dauwalter, Daniel C.; Young, Michael K.; Elsner, Marketa M.; Rieman, Bruce E.; Hamlet, Alan F.; Williams, Jack E., 2011. Flow regime, temperature, and biotic interactions drive differential declines of trout species under climate change [includes Supporting Information]
    Young, Michael K., 2011. IV. Aquatics
    Wenger, Seth J.; Isaak, Daniel J.; Dunham, Jason B.; Fausch, Kurt D.; Luce, Charles H.; Neville, Helen M.; Rieman, Bruce E.; Young, Michael K.; Nagel, David E.; Horan, Dona; Chandler, Gwynne L., 2011. Role of climate and invasive species in structuring trout distributions in the interior Columbia River Basin, USA
    Rieman, Bruce; Young, Michael K.; Fausch, Kurt; Dunham, Jason; Peterson, Douglas, 2010. Barriers, invasion, and conservation of native salmonids in coldwater streams [Box 18.2]
    Stone, Katharine R.; Pilliod, David S.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Wollrab, Sherry P.; Young, Michael K., 2010. Fuel reduction management practices in riparian areas of the western USA
    Wohl, Ellen; Cenderelli, Daniel A.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Ryan-Burkett, Sandra E.; Young, Michael K.; Fausch, Kurt D., 2010. Large in-stream wood studies: A call for common metrics
    Pope, Kevin L.; Lochmann, Steve E.; Young, Michael K., 2010. Methods for assessing fish populations
    Peterson, Douglas P.; Rieman, Bruce E.; Young, Michael K.; Brammer, James A., 2010. Modeling predicts that redd trampling by cattle may contribute to population declines of native trout
    Dwire, Kathleen A.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Young, Michael K., 2010. Potential effects of fuel management activities on riparian areas
    Fausch, Kurt D.; Rieman, Bruce E.; Dunham, Jason B.; Young, Michael K.; Peterson, Douglas P., 2009. Invasion versus isolation: Trade-offs in managing native salmonids with barriers to upstream movement
    Lamansky, James A. Jr.; Keeley, Ernest R.; Young, Michael K.; Meyer, Kevin A., 2009. The use of hoop nets seeded with mature brook trout to capture conspecifics
    Peterson, Douglas P.; Rieman, Bruce E.; Dunham, Jason B.; Fausch, Kurt D.; Young, Michael K., 2007. Analyzing tradeoffs between the threat of invasion by brook trout and effects of intentional isolation for native westslope cutthroat trout
    Rader, Russel B.; Belish, Timberley; Young, Michael K.; Rothlisberger, John, 2007. The scotopic visual sensitivity of four species of trout: A comparative study
    Young, Michael K.; Mace, Ethan A.; Ziegler, Eric T.; Sutherland, Elaine K., 2006. Characterizing and contrasting instream and riparian coarse wood in western Montana basins
    Adams, Susan B.; Schmetterling, David A.; Young, Michael K., 2005. Instream movements by boreal toads (Bufo boreas boreas)
    Dunham, Jason B.; Pilliod, David S.; Young, Michael K., 2004. Assessing the consequences of nonnative trout in headwater ecosystems in western North America
    Dunham, Jason B.; Young, Michael K.; Gresswell, Robert E.; Rieman, Bruce E., 2003. Effects of fire on fish populations: Landscape perspectives on persistence of native fishes and nonnative fish invasions
    Rieman, Bruce; Lee, Danny; Burns, Dave; Gresswell, Robert; Young, Michael K.; Stowell, Rick; Rinne, John; Howell, Philip, 2003. Status of native fishes in the western United States and issues for fire and fuels management
    Rauscher, H. Michael; Young, Michael K.; Webb, Charles D.; Robison, Daniel J., 2000. Testing the accuracy of growth and yield models for southern hardwood forests
    Young, Michael K.; Schmal, R. Nick; Kohley, Thomas W.; Leonard, Victoria G., 1996. Conservation status of Colorado River cutthroat trout
    National Genomics Center stream water filter setup for eDNA sample collection
    The National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation pioneered development of eDNA sampling of aquatic environments at their laboratory in Missoula, MT. The Center has partnered with dozens of National Forests, as well as other state, federal, tribal, and private natural resource organizations to assist in the collection and processing of eDNA samples. Thousands of eDNA samples are collected annually and constitute a rapidly growing biodiversity archive that provides precise information about native and non-native species distributions, temporal trends in those distributions, and the efficacy of species and habitat restoration and conservation efforts. eDNA sampling provides a low-cost & sensitive method for determining which species occur in water bodies. Rapid adoption of eDNA sampling by many natural resource agencies led to an exponential increase in data and the need for an open-access database. The website and open-access database were launched in June 2018 with approximately 6,000 samples and is updated semi-annually with newly processed samples.
    Effective conservation and management decisions for habitats require information about the distribution of multiple species but such data is expensive to obtain; this often limits data collection to just a few, high-profile species. Environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling can be more sensitive, and less expensive, than traditional sampling for aquatic species, and a single sample potentially contains DNA from all species present in a waterbody. Cost-savings accrue if eDNA collected for detecting a particular species can be repurposed to detect additional species. This study tested the feasibility of repurposing and re-analyzing already collected samples.   
    Concerns about climate change effects on cold-water biodiversity sparked broad multi-agency collaborative efforts throughout the American West. U.S. Forest Service research teams led development of massive interagency databases that now enable precise mapping of critical habitats and species distributions in streams flowing through 101 National Forests.
    Westslope cutthroat trout, native to the Columbia River and upper Missouri River hybridize with introduced rainbow trout and have been extirpated from large portions of their historical range.
    Hybridization between westslope cutthroat trout and both rainbow trout and Yellowstone cutthroat trout is a major conservation concern for the species.  A new broad-scale analysis of hybridization patterns found many pure populations of westslope cutthroat trout in headwaters streams.
    Native trout are culturally and ecologically important, but climate change is likely to shrink the cold-water environments they require. Much can be done to preserve these fish but efficient planning and targeting of conservation resources has been hindered by a lack of broad-scale datasets and precise information about which streams are most likely to support native trout populations later this century. The Climate Shield is a useful took for aquatic fisheries conservation planning.
    The bull trout is an ESA-listed species that relies on cold stream environments across the Northwest and is expected to decline with climate change. Resource managers from dozens of agencies are charged with maintaining bull trout in thousands of streams, but monitoring this species is difficult. Environmental DNA (eDNA) is much faster, easier, and more sensitive than traditional fish sampling methods and provides an opportunity to better delineate populations of federally threatened species like bull trout.
    Research conducted by RMRS scientists demonstrates how intensive sampling efforts across a large geographical scale can influence identification of taxonomic groups among the fishes of the genus Cottus in the northern Rocky Mountains. Researchers used specific sequences from mitochondrial DNA regions and phylogenetic analyses techniques as indicators of biodiversity and to identify unique species.
    The website provides: 1) A large list of supporting science behind eDNA sampling. 2) The recommended field protocol for eDNA sampling and the equipment loan program administered by the NGC. 3) A systematically-spaced sampling grid for all flowing waters of the U.S. in a downloadable format that includes unique database identifiers and geographic coordinates for all sampling sites. Available for download in an Geodatabase or available by ArcGIS Online map. This sampling grid can be used to determine your field collection sites to contribute. 4) The lab results of eDNA sampling at those sites where project partners have agreed to share data.
    Knowing how environments might influence the degree and location of hybridization between these species represents a potentially powerful tool for managers. To address that need, we modeled how hybridization between westslope cutthroat trout and rainbow trout is influenced by stream characteristics that favor each species. On the Cutthroat trout-rainbow trout hybridization website, we describe that model, and provide high-resolution digital maps in user-friendly formats of the predictions of different levels of hybridization across the native range of westslope cutthroat trout in the Northern Rocky Mountains, representing both current conditions and those associated with warmer stream temperatures. Our goal is to help decision-makers gauge the potential for hybridization between cutthroat trout and rainbow trout when considering management strategies for conserving cutthroat trout.
    The bull trout has a historical range that encompasses many waters across the Northwest. Though once abundant, bull trout have declined in many locations and is now federally listed and protected under the Endangered Species Act. Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists initiated the range-wide bull trout eDNA project in partnership with biologists from more than 20 organizations to create sound and precise information about the distribution of bull trout in thousands of streams across their range.
    External DNA released by animals in aquatic environments, called environmental DNA (eDNA), can be used to determine whether a species is present without actually capturing or seeing an individual. Because of its greater efficiency and reduced cost, eDNA sampling may revolutionize the monitoring and assessment of freshwater species.
    The Climate Shield website hosts geospatial data and related information on specific locations of cold-water refuge streams for native cutthroat trout and bull trout across the American West. Forecasts about the locations of refugia could enable the protection of key watersheds, be used to rally support among multiple stakeholders, and provide a foundation for planning climate-smart conservation networks that improve the odds of preserving native trout populations through the 21st century.
    Updated July 2019. Fishes of the genus Cottus –the sculpins— have long been a challenge for fish managers and ichthyologists in the West. They share streams, rivers, and lakes with trout and salmon, and depend on the same kinds of habitats with relatively cold, clean water. Yet we don’t know how many kinds of sculpins there are. The morphological differences between species are so subtle that even experts are occasionally baffled. Thus, it seems likely that the biodiversity of sculpins in the West is underestimated and unappreciated.