Anna Steel

Anna Steel
Project Scientist



Ph.D Ecology, University of California, Davis

B.A. Biology, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA

Research Interests:

I study movement and behavior of native fishes, with an emphasis on science to support conservation. I have conducted field, laboratory, and numerical research to explore the links between movement and individual survival. In the Fish Conservation Physiology Lab, my work centers on understanding how both internal states and environmental conditions affect the response of green and white sturgeon to varied threats. We have directly explored performance of fish guidance technology at water diversion points, the effects of pesticides on movement and physiology of juvenile sturgeon, and the dynamics of predator-prey relationships in altered ecosystems. Throughout my work I seek opportunities to conduct interdisciplinary research, and collaborate often with hydraulic engineers (UCD JAHL [link to]) to understand how flow conditions and velocity fields can impact sturgeon behavior. To interpret these varied data types, I frequently use analytical techniques suited for large or complex datasets. In the future my work will help to refine our understanding of thermal and illumination effects on swimming capacity and behavior, including how variation in juvenile swimming capacity relates to fish exclusion screens. We also plan to explore the potential for improving passage design at migratory barriers for adult sturgeon. 


Steel, Anna E., James J. Anderson, Brian Mulvey, David Smith. 2020. Applying the mean free-path length model to juvenile Chinook salmon migrating in the Sacramento River, California. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 103:1603-1617. doi: 10.1007/s10641-020-01046-8

Willmes, M. et al. Anna E. Steel, 2020. Geochemical tools identify the origins of Chinook Salmon returning to a restored creek. Fisheries. doi: 10.1002/fsh.10516

Hansen, Matthew J., Issac Y. Ligocki, Ken E. Zillig, Anna E. Steel, Anne E. Todgham, Nann A. Fangue. 2020. Risk-taking and locomotion in foraging threespine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus): the effect of nutritional stress is dependent on social context. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 74(1): 1-12.

Baird, Sarah E., Anna E. Steel, Dennis E. Cocherell, Jamilynn B. Poletto, Rhiannon Follenfant, Nann A. Fangue. 2020. Experimental assessment of predation risk for juvenile green sturgeon, Acipenser medirostris, by two predatory fishes. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 36(1): 14-24. 

Hansen, Matthew J., Anna E. Steel, Dennis E. Cocherell, Paul H. Patrick, Michael Sills, Steven J. Cooke, Kara J. Carr, M. Levant Kavvas, Nann A. Fangue. 2019. Experimental evaluation of the effect of a light-emitting diode devide on Chinook salmon smolt entrainment in a simulated river. Hydrobiologia, 841(1): 191-203. doi: 10.1007/s10750-019-04022-1

McInturf, Alexandra G., Anna E. Steel, Michele Buckhorn, Philip Sandstrom, Christina J. Slager, Nann A. Fangue, A. Peter Klimley, Damien Caillaud. 2019. Use of a hydrodynamic model to examine behavioral response of broadnose sevengill sharks (Notorynchus cepedianus) to estuarine tidal flow. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 102(9): 1149-1159. 

Steel, Anna E., Mathew J. Hansen, Dennis E. Cocherell, Nann A. Fangue. 2019. Behavioral responses of juvenile white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) to manipulation of nutritional state and predation risk. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 102(5): 817-827. doi: 10.1007/s10641-019-00873-8

Steel, Anna E., Michael Thomas, A. Peter Klimley. 2019. Reach specific use of spawning habitat by adult green sturgeon (Acipenser meditostris) under different operation schedules at Red Bluff Diversion Dam. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 35(1): 22-29. doi: 10.1111/jai.13602

Baird, Sarah E., Dennis Cocherell, Anna E. Steel, Joe J. Cech, Nann A. Fangue. 2018. Native Chinook Salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, and non-native brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, prefer similar water temperatures. Journal of Fish Biology, 93(5): 1000-1004. doi: 10.1111/jfb.13810

Johnston, Myfanwy E., Anna E. Steel, Matthew Espe, Ted Sommer, A. Peter Klimley, Phillip Sandstrom, David Smith. 2018. Survival of juvenile Chinook salmon in the Yolo Bypass and the lower Sacramento River, California. San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science, 16(2).

Steel, Anna E., Ryan A Peek, Robert A Lusardi, Sarah M Yarnell. 2017. Associating metrics of hydrologic variability with benthic macroinvertebrate communities in regulated and unregulated snowmelt-dominated rivers. Freshwater Biology, 63(8): 844-858. doi: 10.1111/fwb.12994

Steel, Anna E., Bertrand Lemasson, David L. Smith, and Joshua A. Israel. 2017. Two-dimensional movement patterns of juvenile winter-run and late-fall run Chinook salmon at the Fremont Weir, Sacramento River, CA. US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering Research and Development Center, Environmental Labs. Vicksburg, MS. 

Steel, Zachary L., Anna E. Steel, John Williams, Josh Viers, Pablo Marquet, Olga Barbosa. 2016. Patterns of bird diversity and habitat use in mixed vineyard-matoral landscapes of Central Chile. Ecological Indicators, 73, 345-357.

Singer, Gabriel P., Anna E. Steel, David L. Smith, Brian Mulvey. 2015. Two-dimensional (2-D) Acoustic Fish Tracking at River Mile 85, Sacramento River, California – Water Year 2012. US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering Research and Development Center, Environmental Labs. Vicksburg, MS.

Steel, Anna E., Julia Coates, Alex Hearn, A. Peter Klimley. 2014. Performance of an ultrasonic telemetry positioning system under varied environmental conditions. Animal Biotelemetry, 2:15.

Steel, Anna E., Phillip Sandstrom, Patricia Brandes, A. Peter Klimley. 2013.  Migration route selection of juvenile Chinook salmon at the Delta Cross Channel, and the role of water velocity and individual movement patterns. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 96(2-3) 215-244. 

Stoepler, Teresa M., Andrea Edge, Anna Steel, Robin L. O’Quinn, and Mark Fishbein. 2012. Variation in pollination effectiveness in a milkweed (Asclepias, Apocynaceae) hybrid zone. American Journal of Botany, 99(3) 1:11