John R. Skalski

Co-Founder, Columbia Basin Research
School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
University of Washington


John Skalski is a fish and wildlife biometrician who looks for statistically rigorous ways to study the effects that humans can have on natural systems. His methods have been used to do everything from assess the health of salmon populations to determine the impacts of nuclear energy installations, wind facilities, hydroelectric projects, oil spills, and coal fire plants on fish and wildlife communities, and have led to regulatory changes in both the oil industry and commercial fisheries.

Dr. Skalski’s research interests include assessing anthropogenic effects on wild populations by using carefully crafted field experiments, advanced demographic analysis, and modern advances of animal tagging studies. These efforts involve interdisciplinary teams of biologists, engineers, resource managers, and biometricians working collaboratively to resolve important and often very costly resource management programs.

Dr. Skalski is the co-founder of Columbia Basin Research. He and the CBR staff possess extensive experimental and impact assessment experience, population modeling, demographic analysis, and over 40 years of experience analyzing complex environmental data. CBR has led the field in developing advanced statistical capabilities and software that improve the precision, cost effectiveness, and interpretation of large-scale impact assessment and demographic studies of mobile species.

In addition to his research, Dr. Skalski has a distinguished record of public service, having designed experiments and developed sampling protocols for many state, federal, and First Nation governmental studies. He is a professor emeritus at the University of Washington and a member of the American Statistical Association, the Wildlife Society, and American Fisheries Society. He is currently on the board of directors for the Wild Fish Conservancy.

Areas of Expertise

  • Mark-recapture theory
  • Statistical population reconstruction
  • Impact assessment theory
  • Analysis of complex environmental data
  • Salmonid life history analysis
  • Wildlife population dynamics and demographics
  • Finite Sampling

Previously Taught Courses

  • FISH 557: Estimation of Population Parameters
  • QSCI 480: Sampling Theory for Biologists
  • QSCI 483: Statistical Regression in Ecology
  • CQS 477: Quantitative Wildlife Assessment
  • CQS 482: Statistical Inference in Applied Research I
  • CQS 483: Statistical Inference in Applied Research II

Community Engagement

  • Chelan County Public Utility District, statistical guidance on juvenile and adult salmonid survival studies, inseason forecasts for juvenile salmonid passage
  • Douglas County Public Utility District, basin-wide monitoring of salmonid production
  • Grant County Public Utility District, statistical guidance on salmonid survival studies
  • City of Seattle, statistical guidance on adult salmon surveys on the Cedar River
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, statistical guidance on salmonid survival compliance studies on the Columbia/Snake River
  • Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, guidance on the use of CBR-developed parameter estimation software
  • Yakama Nation, guidance on the use of CBR-developed parameter estimation software
  • Nez Perce Tribe, guidance on the use of CBR-developed parameter estimation software


  • 2013 Outstanding Wildlife Monograph Award, The Wildlife Society
  • 2016 Award of Excellence, the American Fisheries Society