Steve MacDonald

Designated Senior Officer, DFO
Head Environment and Aquaculture Research Section
DFO Centre for Aquaculture and Ecological Research
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
West Vancouver, BC

Phone: 604-666-6286

Fax: 604-666-6286


Research area(s):

  • Anthropogenic stressors
  • Freshwater ecology
  • Pacific salmon

Area of Expertise:

Dr. Macdonald is the head of the Freshwater Ecosystems Section in the Science Branch of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. He has been with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in the Freshwater Ecosystems Section, since 1982. He is an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia and the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University.

His section investigates a wide variety of freshwater habitat-related issues associated within the fields of forestry, placer mining, industrial pollution, agriculture, and water reservoir withdrawal. Section staff members have skills in ecology, limnology, ethology, stock assessment, biological modeling, and biometrics. Dr. Macdonald and his staff provide scientific advice to stock assessment and habitat management staff within and outside of Fisheries and Oceans. Advice is provided in the form of legal affidavits, ministerial briefing documents, applied research proposals, extension activities, and resource management referrals.

Dr. Macdonald’s primary research interests are trophic ecology and habitat science. His current research involves the investigation of ecosystem processes in watersheds subjected to forest harvesting in the interior of British Columbia. In particular, he is interested in the influence of land-based activities on water temperature and the application of this information to protecting and managing all freshwater life stages of salmonids. He has designed and managed several multi-disciplinary research projects, the latest being the Stuart-Takla Fish/Forestry Interaction Project which involves representatives from universities, federal and provincial government agencies, the forest industry, and First Nations. These studies have been carried out in collaboration with Erland McIsaac, David Patterson and Herb Herunter plus various students. Most of the research was directed at understanding the effects of suspended sediments on egg fertilization success, temperature and oxygen conditions in sockeye redds, egg incubation and alevin movements, bedload dynamics and gravel quality, and the fate of salmon carcasses in spawning streams.

In recent years Dr. Macdonald, along with colleagues such as research biologist Dr. Herb Herunter, has taken on a number of coastal habitat research programs. One such program is a long-term examination of the environmental impact of small craft harbours.

Select Presentation(s) / Publication(s):

Herunter, Herb and Macdonald, Steve, “Is natural recovery occurring at historic log storage sites in Howe Sound?” (2018). Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference. 570.

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