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Resource Ecology and Fisheries Management (REFM) Division

Pat Livingston Retires From the Alaska Fisheries Science Center

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Pat Livingston in 2005 as the newly appointed REFM Division Director.

Pat Livingston retired in January 2015 as Division Director of the Resource Ecology and Fisheries Management (REFM) Division after more than 37 years of federal service.

Pat Livingston grew up in Farmington, Michigan, where her talents as a biologist were apparent at an early age. Her interest in aquatic biology came from discovering creatures in the stream that flowed near her family's home. As early as grade school, her classmates told her that she was going to be a scientist because of her great interest and natural ability in the discipline. Pat became interested in biology while she attended an all-girls high school.  Shortly after the first Earth Day, her school offered one of the first high school level courses in ecology, which may have been the stimulus for the years of research that followed.

After high school Pat attended nearby Michigan State University because of their notable wildlife department, but eventually changed her major to fisheries and began taking classes in fish biology and ecosystem modeling. During this time she took her first ecosystem modeling class, contributing to the microbial loop submodel of a freshwater lake. Pat completed her undergraduate work in three years and entered graduate school at the University of Washington's College of Fisheries, where she studied the population dynamics of North Pacific marine fishes. Her master's degree research involved parameterizing and sensitivity analysis of a mass balance model of the Gulf of Alaska. While she worked toward her M.S. degree, she started part-time work at what was then the NMFS Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Center (Seattle). Her job involved parameterizing, running, and debugging various ecosystem models for Taivo Laevastu. On the completion of her degree in 1980, Pat obtained a permanent position in the Resource Ecology and Modeling Task of the the NWAFC's REFM Division. In response to the results of her graduate research that highlighted the importance of fish food habits data for more accurate multi-species and ecosystem models, Pat built a solid groundfish feeding ecology field and laboratory program within the group, designed to quantify the food web linkages that are so critical to these models.

Pat on the Pacific Crest Trail between Snoqualmie Pass and Stevens Pass with a heavy pack and sore feet in 1979. Always ambitious, Pat is pointing at the top of the peak where she plans on having lunch!

Development of that field program gave Pat the opportunity to get away from computers and out on fishery research vessels, where she participated in cruises from Washington State to the Bering Sea. The field collection program that she initiated created a food habits database that now holds diet information and provides a solid basis for the present day multi-species modeling efforts of the northern California Current System, and the continental shelf and slope areas of the Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, and eastern Bering Sea. In addition to sampling the groundfish communities in the North Pacific, Pat herded fur seals on Bogoslof Island, counted Steller sea lions on Ugamak (rumor had it that she was the first woman to be on the island), and even tried handlining for squid on the Bering Sea slope when the automatic jigging machines were broken.

During this period, Pat received some exposure to policy analysis and public administration in the NWAFC's Center Director's Office. This initial exposure sparked her interest in a different way of looking at the enterprise of science. So instead of following the traditional route of returning to school to obtain a Ph.D. in her current field of study, she decided to pursue a master's degree in public administration with an emphasis in natural resources policy and administration at the University of Washington. Her research topic describes that interesting mix of science, management, and politics that affects natural resource managers around the world.

Over the years, Pat was involved in a number of research planning and coordination activities, particularly involving the Bering Sea ecosystem research. She was a key member and workshop organizer for research plans that were developed to bring an ecosystem perspective to what had formerly been a single-discipline approach to marine research planning. An affiliate faculty member at the University of Washington since 1989, Pat served on many graduate student committees. She provided guidance, data, and financial support to students over the years who have been interested in questions of groundfish feeding ecology and multi-species interactions. Her lab provided the University with highly capable graduate students who went on to successful careers.  Starting in 1995, Pat helped bring scientists together to agree on Bering Sea research priorities in response to mandates of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, inter-agency research coordination plans, GLOBEC, PICES, and coordinated on several Bering Sea research plans for the National Science Foundation.

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Pat and her husband Jim Hughes, daughter Riley, and son Paul on vacation in the 1990s.

Pat served as Program Manager of the Division’s Resource Ecology and Ecosystem Modeling Program from 1997 to 2004.  In 2005, Pat was appointed Director of the REFM Division. She also served as a member of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee.  Pat has been involved in several aspects of PICES since its inception, beginning with a brief appointment to the Bering Sea Working Group (WG 5) near the end of its work, and going on to be a MODEL Task Team member of the PICES­ GLOBEC Climate Change and Carrying Capacity (CCCC) Program. From 1996 to 1998, Pat served as the national representative to the Implementation Panel of the CCCC Program and as the Co­ Chair (with Professor Yutaka Nagata) of this program. Pat also served as the Chair of the PICES Science Board from 1999 to 2001. In addition to her involvement in PICES, Pat has been an active member of several scientific societies, including the American Fisheries Society, the Association for Women in Science, and the American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists.

Pat’s main research focus has been to implement various ecosystem and upper-trophic level models of the North Pacific. Her research has centered on understanding groundfish trophic interactions relative to marine birds and mammals, particularly in the eastern Bering Sea. She authored more than 50 publications many of which relate to groundfish predation and population models incorporating predation, with particular emphasis on cannibalism by walleye pollock in the eastern Bering Sea. She has been involved in and also led numerous research planning and science plan development workshops for cooperative ecosystem research in the eastern Bering Sea. Pat worked to integrate ecosystem research into the fishery management arena and on coordinating an ecosystem status report for the eastern Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska regions to accompany the groundfish stock assessment advice that goes to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Pat was a dedicated and charismatic Director of the REFM Division and her leadership will be dearly missed. Pat will enjoy her retirement by traveling and exploring the outdoors with her friends and family.

By Dan Ito, Ron Felthoven, Gary Duker, and Susan Calderón


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