Unblocking bottlenecks in recovery of endangered pinto abalone populations


PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Jacqueline Padilla-Gamiño (University of Washington)

CO-INVESTIGATORS: Jodie Toft (Puget Sound Restoration Fund)


Native pinto abalone has declined by 97 percent in Washington. Restoring abalone has ecological, economic and cultural benefits. However, restoration efforts in Washington have been challenged by low levels of larval settlement and high levels of juvenile mortality in hatcheries. Understanding the factors that may contribute to abalone die-off events would benefit ongoing restoration efforts by partners Puget Sound Restoration Fund (PSRF) and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Researchers investigated best practices for rearing and out-planting abalone. The team followed three lines of inquiry: assessing the impacts of the hatchery tank’s microbiome and testing the efficacy of probiotics on abalone survival; testing the impacts of pH, temperature and substrate on larval and juvenile abalone survival; and assessing oceanographic conditions at restoration sites with variable abalone survival. Results suggested new best practices to improve juvenile abalone survival in hatcheries that are now being implemented by PSRF.