Prof. Dave Close Identifies Evolutionary Link

Dr Dave Close first began thinking about lamprey, an eel-like fish found in west coast river systems, because it was an important traditional food stock for his community, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation located on the Columbia river in eastern Oregon.  Dave had begun working in tribal fisheries, and community leaders were concerned about the lamprey’s decline.

Years later, having completed is PhD with their encouragement, he developed a way to measure steroid stress indicators that would help to better understand how changes in river management were affecting the lamprey and perhaps could also be used to help reverse their decline.

Recently his work took on a new turn: his work on steroid production in lamprey identified an important link in evolutionary history, evidence of a missing piece of a sequence that developed 500 million years ago. Dave’s work, published in Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the top scientific journals in the world, is evidence of the benefits of combining Indigenous knowledge and scientific thinking.

Hear about this work, and how Dave became a scientist, in this video. You can read or download the article at

Dave is Assistant Professor and Distinguished Science Professor of Aboriginal Fisheries in UBC’s Fisheries Centre and in the Department of Zoology, and joined the UBC faculty in 2008.  He directs the Aboriginal Fisheries Research Unit in UBC’s Fisheries Centre.  You can contact him at or (604) 822-0226.