Rebecca A. Buchanan, Ph.D.

Co-Director, Columbia Basin Research
Senior Research Scientist
School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
University of Washington


Rebecca Buchanan is the Co-Director of the University of Washington's Columbia Basin Research, and Senior Research Scientist in the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. She specializes in developing and communicating quantitative methods to provide information needed for science-based management of hydropower and water resources to support both fish and human communities. Dr. Buchanan has developed spatially- and temporally-branching release-recapture models for salmon and steelhead migrations in the Columbia River Basin and the Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta of central California, as well as individual-based models to relate migration route selection and survival to environmental and operational conditions. Dr. Buchanan has collaborated with numerous researchers from federal, tribal, state, county, and municipal resource management agencies and NGOs on science-based management strategies both in the Columbia River Basin and in the Central Valley of California. She holds an A.B. in Mathematics magna cum laude from Bryn Mawr College, a M.S. in Mathematics Education from Syracuse University, and a Ph.D. in Quantitative Ecology and Resource Management from the University of Washington.

Research Interests

Rebecca works to support science-based management of water resources, hydropower, and fish communities. She focuses on providing quantitative tools and data interpretation, with specialty in design and analysis of salmonid tagging studies. Current research interests include salmon survival pathways in tributaries and estuaries, and the impacts of state misidentification on interpretation of survival studies.

Areas of Expertise

  • Multistate release-recapture models
  • Migration monitoring
  • Anadromous salmonids
  • Hydroproject passage survival
  • Study Design


Current Projects

Selected Publications

Buchanan, R. A., and S. L. Whitlock. 2022. Diagnosing predated tags in telemetry survival studies of migratory fishes in river systems. Animal Biotelemetry 10:13. DOI:10.1186/s40317-022-00283-1.

Buchanan, R. A., E. Buttermore, and J. Israel. 2021. Outmigration survival of a threatened steelhead population through a tidal estuary. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 78(12):1869-1886. DOI: 10.1139/cjfas-2020-0467.

Buchanan, R. A., and J. R. Skalski. 2020. Relating survival of fall-run Chinook Salmon through the San Joaquin Delta to river flow. Environmental Biology of Fishes 103:389-410. doi: 10.1007/s10641-019-00918-y.

Buchanan, R. A., P. L. Brandes, and J. R. Skalski. 2018. Survival of juvenile fall-run Chinook Salmon through the San Joaquin River delta, California, 2010-2015. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 38:663-679. Among top 20 most downloaded articles published in NAJFM in 2017-2018.

Perry, R. W., R. A. Buchanan, P. L. Brandes, J. R. Burau, and J. A. Israel. 2016. Anadromous salmonids in the Delta: New Science 2006-2016. San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science 14(2). DOI: 10.15447/sfews.2016v14iss2art7.

Buchanan, R. A., J. R. Skalski, G. Mackey, C. Snow, and A. Murdoch. 2015. Estimating cohort survival through tributaries for salmonid populations with variable ages at migration. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 35: 958-973. DOI:10.1080/02755947.2015.1064837

Buchanan, R. A., J. R. Skalski, and A. E. Giorgi. 2010. Evaluating surrogacy of hatchery releases for the performance of wild yearling Chinook salmon from the Snake River Basin. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 30:1258-1269.

Buchanan, R. A., J. R. Skalski, G. A. McMichael. 2009. Differentiating mortality from delayed migration in subyearling fall Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 66(12): 2243-2255.

Contact Info