Born in Romania, Alina's early childhood memories revolve around feeding wildlife, exploring forests & beaches, and bringing home any wild animal she could find. This included snakes, frogs, mice, birds, & polecats - much to her mother's chagrin. Her love of the natural world led Alina to study population and community ecology in diverse ecosystems including: yucca-yucca moth pollination system, mycorrhizal fungi associated with Jack Pine, the impact of escaped farmed Atlantic Salmon in Pacific coastal streams, and species recovery efforts of the Western Bluebird to Vancouver Island.
As a science communicator, the prevalence of pseudo-science and fake science on social media led Alina to undertake a Masters degree in Communications, to study the barriers to effective science communication. Alina continues to do research in this field.
Industry Expertise (8)
Floriculture and Horticulture
Fishery and Aquaculture
Areas of Expertise (7)
science communication and outreach
Royal Roads University: M.A., Professional Communications 2017
Thesis: "From Trees to Bluebirds: The Impact of Engagement and Framing on the Communication of Conservation on Vancouver Island"
Project Management Institute: PMP 2013
Devonian Botanic Garden: Master Gardener Certificate 2004
University of Alberta: M.Sc. (ABD), Environmental Biology and Ecology 2000
Thesis: "How the spatial distribution of mycorrhizal fungi affects the distribution of above-ground plants"
University of Alberta: B.Sc., Zoology 1997
Thesis: "Population dynamics of the yucca moth"
Media Appearances (2)
Singing the bluebirds
Canadian Wildlife Magazine print
Project coordinator Alina Fisher explains how the Bring Back the Bluebirds program on Vancouver Island is changing the tune for western bluebirds
Alina Fisher spoke with CBC Daybreak North about her recently published paper about invasive atlantic salmon found in Pacific coastal salmon streams
Research Grants (1)
MITACS Accelerate Internship
Farmed non-native Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is the largest agriculture export product of British Columbia, Canada. Chronic low-volume escapes of salmon from farms into Pacific waters (“leakage”) are typically undetectable (Britton et al. 2011). Analysis of escape-reporting from farmers indicates that reports greatly underestimate the true number of Atlantic salmon inadvertently released from open-net pen rearing sites (Morton and Volpe 2002). To quantify the spatial extent of escaped Atlantic salmon in Canadian Pacific rivers, we systematically snorkel-surveyed 41 known Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.)-supporting rivers and creeks on Vancouver Island over a span of 3 years. We estimated and accounted for imperfect detections using multi-season occupancy models. We detected Atlantic salmon in 36.6 % of surveyed rivers. After accounting for imperfect detection, occupancy models estimated that over half of surveyed streams across the study area contained Atlantic salmon, and that 97 % of streams with high native salmon diversity were occupied by Atlantic salmon. Even in intensive snorkel surveys, Atlantic salmon are detected in occupied streams only 2/3 the time, suggesting abundance and distribution of non-native salmon is greater than indicated by the only existing data. Further, Atlantic salmon are more likely to occupy streams with high native Pacific salmon diversity—and more likely to maintain occupancy across years—potentially increasing competitive pressure on native salmonids. Understanding local biotic and abiotic predictors of Atlantic salmon occupancy, stream colonization, and local extinction requires more data; the same is true for the effects of escaped Atlantic salmon on local salmon diversity and sustainability. These data for the first time show that Atlantic salmon occupy Pacific coastal rivers for multiple years. The impact of Atlantic salmon occupancy in British Columbia rivers must be factored into policy decisions regarding the future of salmon farming in the provincial waters.