Tomas Höök named recipient of the 2021 Agricultural Research Prize – News & Stories

As the saying goes, says Höök, studying fish is like studying trees, except they keep moving and you can’t see them because they’re underwater. “It is difficult to know where the fish are, what habitats they inhabit, where they reproduce. Things that seem easy to say are hard enough.

“What we do in our lab is try to understand how fish populations and fish communities, primarily in the Great Lakes, are structured, and try to understand how different environmental stressors affect those populations and communities. communities. Invasive species, climate change and nutrient runoff are examples of stressors.

“It’s complex. We don’t have a single method. We don’t just conduct experiments in the lab or simply analyze data. We use a variety of methods,” says Höök, including field surveys and simulation models. Analysis of data collected by state departments of natural resources and federal agencies may lead to an article in an academic journal—and possibly an extension publication and news story as well.

“This is how I approach science: try to understand the potential impact of a stressor on natural populations and communities and think about the right methods to assess it,” says Höök, “rather than d ‘have a certain method and look for questions that fit that method.

Purdue’s ties with the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant have grown stronger in 35 years. “We border the largest freshwater system in the world. The university could be even more involved than us in the problems of the Great Lakes.

Fresh water is a finite resource, he points out. “We have a lot of fresh water around us, and we take advantage of it. Other parts of the country clearly do not. Protecting fresh water is essential, says Höök.

“I wish people were more aware of the usefulness of freshwater systems in terms of what they provide not only to people but also to other biota that live here. We need to think about how we can both protecting systems like the Great Lakes, but also benefiting from them.

Lana T. Arthur