Tyler's passion for the outdoors and aquatic ecosystems began at a young age while camping, floating, and fishing the Deschutes and Clackamas Rivers near his hometown in Oregon. It was the allure of Montana fly-fishing and a career in ecology that first brought him to Montana in the late 90's and in 1998 he completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Montana. Tyler then returned to his hometown in Oregon and worked as a fisheries biologist and natural resource specialist with various state agencies in Oregon. In 2004, Tyler got the opportunity to come back to Montana and work as a Research Scientist for the Flathead Lake Biological Station (FLBS). He was one of two FLBS scientists that began the Salmonids River Observatory Network (SaRON) project on the remote Kwethluk River in Alaska. Tyler spent two field seasons on the Kwethluk until 2006 when he switched gears from being a staff scientist to becoming a graduate student under the mentorship of Dr. Jack Stanford. Tyler's graduate research focused on comparing and contrasting the ecology and the life history of lake-type and riverine Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) populations in the Kwethluk River. Tyler also ran field crews on the remote SaRON rivers of British Columbia before completing his master's degree in the spring of 2008. Upon completion, Tyler stayed on as a Research Scientist at FLBS and hasn't looked back.
When not at work, Tyler can be found boating Montana's rivers and lakes or sneaking back to Oregon to chase steelhead with a fly rod. When not on the river he enjoys backpacking and hiking in the backcountry. He couldn't imagine a more beautiful place to live with his wife Samantha and their three dogs, Misty, Salmo, and Copper, nor a more dynamic ecosystem to study than the rivers and lakes in the Flathead.
- M.S. 2008. Environmental Studies focusing on fisheries and food web ecology. Flathead Lake Biological Station, University of Montana, Missoula, MT
- B.S. 1998. Wildlife Biology focusing on terrestrial and aquatic biology, University of Montana, Missoula Montana
I am a versatile research scientist here at the FLBS and am often working on many projects that involve multiple disciplines of ecology. Currently, I am working on research projects that focus on how chemical, physical, and biological drivers influence the food webs and ecosystems of the Flathead and Whitefish Lake ecosystems. I work on a research crew that samples both lakes for the long-term monitoring of food web dynamics and changes in water quality. Another aspect of my work, asks questions about how climate change, introduced species, and natural and anthropogenic changes to lake and river processes affect food webs, and in turn, how changes at different trophic levels affect the rest of the ecosystem.
I have spent many years working in systems that support salmon, steelhead trout, trout and char populations and so my research interests encompass aspects of fish ecology.
A large aspect of my work on the SaRON project was to understand how evolutionary adaptations, the environment, species interactions, and population genetics influenced life history diversity in salmonids. My current research also focuses on a variety of fisheries and conservation genomics projects, including the genetic rescue of an isolated westslope cutthroat trout population near the headwaters of the Swan River. I have also been working on projects that are developing novel early-detection techniques for aquatic invasive species in lakes and rivers using environmental DNA techniques.
I am also interested in understanding how newly emerging contaminants, such as Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products (PPCP) and Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDC) affect river and lake ecosystems. I was a co-Principal Investigator on a shallow-groundwater project that focused on identifying and quantifying a broad spectrum of contaminants (e.g., pharmaceuticals and semi-volatile organic compounds) throughout the alluvial aquifer of the Flathead River.
Boundary Lake Kwethluk River, AK
Collecting a zooplankton sample from Whitefish Lake
Electrofishing a shallow shoreline of the Kalum River, BC
Floating the Skeena River, BC
Night work on the Kwethluk River, AK
Sampling pharmaceuticals and personal care products from shallow groundwater well in Kalispell
Stream side incubators used to for genetic rescue of westslope cutthroat
Riverine Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus-nerka) on the Kwethluk River, AK
Selected Publications and Reports
- Jordan S, Giersch JJ, Muhlfeld CC, Hotaling S, Fanning L, Tappenbeck TH, Luikart G (2016) Loss of Genetic Diversity and Increased Subdivision in an Endemic Alpine Stonefly Threatened by Climate Change. PLoS ONE 11(7): e0159931.
- Devlin, Shawn P., Samantha K. Tappenbeck, James A. Craft, Tyler H. Tappenbeck, Dale W. Chess, Diane C. Whited, Bonnie K. Ellis, and Jack A. Stanford. Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Invasive Freshwater Shrimp (Mysis diluviana): Long-Term Effects on Ecosystem Properties in a Large Oligotrophic Lake. Ecosystems (2016): 1-15.
- Todd Sandell, Kurt Beardslee, Gordon Luikart, Tyler Tappenbeck, and Jack Stanford. 2014. Risk Assessment Detects Two Viral Pathogens in Farmed Atlantic Salmon: Implications for Native Salmon in the Pacific Northwest.
Prepared for the Marisla Foundation and Patagonia Inc. Environmental Programs (World Trout). 23p.
- Jason. B. Mouw, Tyler H. Tappenbeck, and Jack A. Stanford. 2014. Spawning tactics of summer chum salmon Oncorhynchus keta in relation to channel complexity and hyporheic exchange. Environmental Biology of Fishes 97: 1095-1107.
- Stephen J. Amish, Angela Lodmell, Yves Hoareau, Beth Gardner, Tyler H. Tappenbeck, and Gordon Luikart. 2013. Development and Evaluation of qPCR Tests for Early Detection of Invasive Dreissenid Mussels:
Usefulness of eDNA and Plankton Tow Sampling. 11p.
- Tyler H. Tappenbeck and Bonnie K. Ellis. 2011. Assessment of Groundwater Pollutants and
Contaminants in the Shallow Aquifer of the Flathead Valley, Kalispell, Montana: Phase II. FLBS Report
#207-11. Prepared for Flathead Basin Commission, Kalispell, Montana by Flathead Lake Biological
Station, The University of Montana, Polson, Montana. 62p.
- Tyler H. Tappenbeck and Bonnie K. Ellis. 2010. Assessment of Groundwater Pollutants and
Contaminants in the Shallow Aquifer of the Flathead Valley, Kalispell, Montana: Phase I. FLBS Report
#206-10. Prepared for Flathead Basin Commission, Kalispell, Montana by Flathead Lake Biological
Station, The University of Montana, Polson, Montana. 55p.
- Megan V. McPhee, Tyler H. Tappenbeck, Diane C. Whited, and Jack A. Stanford. 2009. Genetic diversity and population structure in the Kuskokwim River drainage support the 'recurrent evolution' hypothesis for sockeye salmon life histories. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 138:1481–1489
Current publications in preparation for peer-review
- Tyler H. Tappenbeck, Kirill V. Kuzishchin, and Jack A. Stanford. The life history and ecology of riverine sockeye salmon in the Kwethluk River, Alaska and the Kol River, Kamchatka, Russian Federation. (In prep for submission to Ecology of Freshwater Fish).
- Tyler H. Tappenbeck and Jack A. Stanford. A new and improved way to sample and monitor the groundwater-surface water interactions in the redds of salmonids using mini-piezometers. (In prep for submission to the North American Journal of Fisheries Management)
- Tyler H. Tappenbeck and Bonnie K. Ellis. A broad spectrum analysis of contaminants in the shallow alluvial aquifer of the Flathead River, Kalispell, MT. (In prep for submission to Groundwater).