Ben Rich

Ben Rich

M.S. Student


Anchorage, Alaska 99507


University of Montana
BS Wildlife Biology



Effects of warming water temperatures on distribution and feeding ecology of invasive northern pike (Esox lucius) in the Deshka River, Alaska





I was raised in Western Montana and moved to Alaska the day after graduating from the University of Montana to work on a Chinook research project in Chignik Lake. That field season sparked a passion for working with salmon in remote places that led me to run a field camp in the Kuskokwim, lead an electrofishing crew in Idaho's Lemhi Valley, and ultimately lead a water temperature and juvenile salmon study on the Deshka River for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. During our field work on the Deshka, the crew and I frequently observed and captured northern pike while fishing from camp. Combining these observations with existing data and models seemed like a natural fit, and resulted in the genesis of this project with Peter Westley and USFWS.

I am passionate about wild places, wild critters, and the ecological factors that threaten their stability such as invasive species and climate change. I am also passionate about wild foods, local history and the other ways that we connect with our environment.


  • Water temperature monitoring
  • Juvenile salmon sampling and ID
  • Remote fieldwork and logistics


Research Overview

Alaska's Deshka River is home to an invasive population of northern pike that prey on juvenile salmon and native resident fishes. Previous studies have been conducted on the Deshka to document and analyze the potential distribution of northern pike in the system as well as their diet, energetic needs and impacts on native fishes. Currently, USFWS is creating a detailed, reach-specific water temperature model for the Deshka watershed. We will combine these components to better understand the theoretical and actual distribution of northern pike in the Deshka basin, their feeding ecology past and present, and how this population might respond to warming water temperatures in the future. This work will provide a detailed portrait of a population of an invasive apex predator and how they will respond to climate change in a complex and warming watershed that will help inform future management.


Current research projects

  • Deshka River Juvenile Salmon



  • USFWS Anchorage Field Office