UI Center for Research on Invasive Species and Small Populations UI Center for Research on Invasive Species and Small Populations University of Idaho College of Natural Resources University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Image Map
Aug 072012

Title: North American Burbot Project
Student: Nathan Jensen
Department: Fish & Wildlife Resources

Project Summary

Burbot (Lota lota maculosa) are the only freshwater member of the Cod family Gadidae and native to the Kootenai River in Idaho and Montana USA and BC Canada. In the past, KR burbot sustained recreational, commercial, and sustenance fisheries. Over the last half century populations declined due to anthropogenic influences that changed the KR ecosystems. The most recent population estimates of KR burbot total less than 50. In 2003 KR burbot were denied federal listing as an endangered species. They are currently considered a species of concern in Idaho and Montana and red listed in BC. Although KR burbot were not listed, a multi-agency team of stakeholders consisting of international, tribal, state, and local governments and non-government entities, developed a multifaceted conservation recovery plan with the goal to revitalize the KR burbot population. Development of aquaculture techniques was included in this plan. In 2004, a UI graduate student (MS) project was funded by the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho and focused on developing fundamental aquaculture techniques that could be used as a basis for developing a future conservation breeding program. This primary research successfully developed spawning, semen cryopreservation, egg incubation and larval feeding methods. Following the successful developments, additional funding support was awarded by the KTOI and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to continue aquaculture technique development. Currently, two graduate student (MS) projects are being funded; one with support by KTOI and the other supported by the USFWS. Ongoing research includes improving egg survival during incubation by controlling fungus using fungicides, evaluating the susceptibility of burbot juveniles to specific viral and bacterial pathogens and development and evaluation of extensive larval and juvenile rearing techniques and systems.

For more information, email the PI: Dr. Kenneth Cain

Developing burbot eggs and first feeding larvae (increments = 1mm)

Developing burbot eggs and first feeding larvae (increments = 1mm)

Captive adult burbot

Captive adult burbot

 August 7, 2012
Aug 072012

Kenneth CainAssociate Professor of Fish Pathology
Associate Director
Fishery Resources
Aquaculture Research Institute


(208) 885-7608


Dr. Kenneth Cain received a BS and MS in Fish and Wildlife from Michigan State University and a PhD in Animal Sciences from Washington State University. Ken’s research is focused on fish health and pathology. More specifically his primary research projects address fish immunology, aquaculture vaccine development, host-pathogen interactions, the development of new disease diagnostic tools, and antigen characterization/identification. In addition, Ken works in the area of aquaculture development for new species and is currently collaborating with the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho to develop captive rearing methods for Burbot (Lota lota). This species (a freshwater cod) is nearly extinct in Idaho and the methods developed at UI will be incorporated into a conservation aquaculture program to rehabilitate the remnant population in the Kootenai River. more info

CRISSP Research

A number of projects in my lab have investigated new and emerging diseases that create difficulties for species restoration. In some cases these pathogens can be considered invasive species if they are not endemic to this region. A good example of this is the parasite Myxobolus cerebralis, which causes whirling disease. The work that we are doing on vaccine development for coldwater disease also has implications for hatchery programs aimed at recovery of threatened steelhead and Coho salmon populations, as these species are very susceptible to this disease. Finally, the burbot program that has been ongoing since 2004 is directly related to CRISSP in that it is aimed at recovery of a small population in Idaho and is attempting to do this in lieu of listing this stock as an endangered species.

CRISSP Classes

(click on the links below for more information)

Fish 424: Fish Health Management

Fish 422: Concepts in Aquaculture

Fish 494: Seminar: Current Issues in Fish Health

 August 7, 2012