Aquatic ecologist Zeb Hogan travels across the globe to find and save critically endangered freshwater fish and the livelihood of people who share their habitats.
Hogan earned an undergraduate degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Arizona. He later became a visiting Fulbright student at the Environmental Risk Assessment Program at Thailand's Chiang Mai University. Returning to the United States, Hogan completed a National Science Foundation-sponsored Ph.D. in ecology at the University of California, Davis. He is currently a fellow at the University of Wisconsin and a World Wildlife Fund fellow. Hogan now leads a new National Geographic Society project to identify and protect the world's largest freshwater fishes.
Hogan believes new approaches, investment, and research offer real hope to both fish and fishing communities. In Cambodia, for example, when fishermen catch vulnerable species, Hogan buys live fish. He studies and tags them, then releases them downstream from the fishermen's nets. The practice keeps more endangered fish alive and allows scientists to gain insight on fish migration patterns, habitat use, and mortality rates—knowledge, Hogan hopes, that will lead to the creation of no-fishing zones and more sustainable management of Cambodia's fisheries.
But the fresh thinking doesn't stop there. Hogan is part of a science team working on a new project in an area in Mongolia famed for its giant salmon. With the help of international donors, local residents are establishing a concession system through which an ecotourism company pays to run catch-and-release fly-fishing trips. No fish are harvested, and local people are given an economic incentive for conserving the resource.