Senior Scientist and Research Physiologist
USGS, Conte Anadromous Fish Research Center
One Migratory Way, Turners Falls, MA


413 863-3804
Email: mccormick

Primary interests

Environmental Physiology of Migratory Fishes

Physiological demands are especially important to anadromous fish because of their need to move between freshwater and seawater and to make long, often difficult, migrations. These demands can become critical when there are barriers to migration or other changes in river ecosystems.  The McCormick Laboratory is located 20 miles north of campus at the USGS Conte Anadromous Fish Research Center. We conduct research on physiological and endocrine changes that may limit fish populations, particularly those in need of conservation or restoration. We are particularly interested in how environmental change, both of ‘natural’ and ‘human’ origins, affects normal growth and development in anadromous fish. Physiological systems such as ion regulation, stress, energetics, growth and reproduction are critical for survival of migratory fish. Environmental factors such as climate change, salinity, temperature, stress, hatchery practices, dams and pollution may affect normal development of these complex systems. Because of threats to their survival in many rivers in the northeastern US, Atlantic salmon, American shad, blueback herring, alewife, brook trout, sturgeon and lamprey are the anadromous species of primary interest.

Current Projects

  • Identification, localization and endocrine regulation of gill ion transport proteins that secrete salts as anadromous fish move between freshwater and seawater.
  • Thermal physiology of salmonids, including brook trout, Atlantic salmon and Alaskan sockeye salmon.
  • Comparison of salinity tolerance and feeding in landlocked and anadromous sea lamprey.
  • Effects of temperature and energy use on fish passage and spawning success of American shad.
  • Hormonal control of osmoregulation in basal vertebrates, including sea lamprey and Atlantic sturgeon.

Recent Publications (2013-Present)

McCormick, S.D. and Romero, J.M.  2017.  Conservation Endocrinology.  Bioscience (in press).

Velotta, J.P., Wegrzyn, J.L., Ginzburg, S., Kang, L., Czesny, S., O’Neill, R.J., McCormick, S.D., Michalak, P. and Schultz, E.T.  2017.  Genomic imprints of adaptation to freshwater: parallel transcriptional responses to osmotic challenge are associated with physiological trade-offs in landlocked Alewives.  Molecular Ecology (in press).

Hollemaa, H.M., Kneebone, J. McCormick, S.D., Skomal, G.B. and Danylchuk, A.J.  2017.   Movement patterns of striped bass (Morone saxatilis) in a tidal coastal embayment in New England. Fisheries Research 187: 168-177. doi: 10.1016/j.fishres.2016.11.006

Breves, J.P., Fujimoto, C.K., Phipps-Costin, S.K., Einarsdottir, I.E., Björnsson, B.Th. and McCormick, S.D.  2017.  Variation in branchial expression among insulin-like growth-factor binding proteins (igfbps) during Atlantic salmon smoltification and seawater exposure. BMC Physiology (2017) 17:2.  doi: 10.1186/s12899-017-0028-5

Balk, L. Hägerroth, P.-A. Gustavsson, H., Sigg, L., Åkerman, G., Muñoz, Y.R., Honeyfield, D.C.  Tjärnlund, U., Oliveira, K., Ström, K., McCormick, S.D., Karlsson, S., Ström, M., Manen, M.,   Berg, A.-L., Halldórsson, H.P., Strömquist, J., Collier, T.K., Börjeson, H., Mörner, T. and Hansson, T.  2016.  Widespread episodic thiamine deficiency in Northern Hemisphere wildlife. Scientific Reports 6, 38821; doi: 10.1038/srep38821.

Galt, N.J., McCormick, S.D., Froehlich, J.M. and Biga, P.R.  2016.  A comparative examination of cortisol effects on muscle myostatin and HSP90 gene expression in salmonids.  General and Comparative Endocrinology 237: 19-26.

Ferreira-Martins, D., McCormick, S.D., Campos, A., Lopes-Marques, M, Osório, H., Coimbra, J,  Castro, L. F. C. and Wilson, J.M.  2016.  A cytosolic carbonic anhydrase molecular switch occurs in the gills of metamorphic sea lamprey. Scientific Reports 6, 33954. doi: 10.1038/srep33954.

Divino, J.N., Monette, M.Y., McCormick, S.D., Yancey, P.H., Flannery, K.G., Bell, M.A., Rollins, J.L., von Hippel, F.A., and Schultz, E.T.  2016.  Osmoregulatory physiology and rapid evolution of salinity tolerance in recently lake-introduced Threespine Stickleback.  Evolution and Ecology Research 17: 179-201.

Breves, J.P., Phipps-Costin, S.K., Fujimoto, C.K., Einarsdottir, I.E., Regish, A.M., Björnsson, B.Th. and McCormick, S.D.  2016.  Hepatic insulin-like growth-factor binding protein (igfbp) responses to food restriction in Atlantic salmon smolts.  General and Comparative Endocrinology 233: 79-87.

Velotta, J.P., McCormick, S.D. and Schultz, E.T.  2015.  Trade-offs in osmoregulation and parallel shifts in molecular function following ecological transitions to freshwater in the Alewife.  Evolution 69: 2676-2688.

Kelly, J.T., Lerner, D. T., O’Dea, M. F., Regish, A. M., Monette, M.Y., Hawkes, J.P., Nislow, K.H. and McCormick, S.D.  2015.  Evidence for episodic acidification impacts on migrating Atlantic salmon smolts in the United States.  Journal of Fish Biology 87: 1129-1146.  doi:10.1111/jfb.12763

Chadwick, J.G., Nislow, K. and McCormick, S.D.  2015.  Thermal onset of cellular and endocrine stress responses correspond to ecological limits in brook trout, an iconic cold-water fish.  Conservation Physiology 3: doi:10.1093/conphys/cov017.

McCormick, S.D., Haro, A., Lerner, D.T., O’Dea, M.F. and Regish, A.M.  2014.  Migratory patterns of hatchery- and stream-reared Atlantic salmon smolts in the Connecticut River, USA.  Journal of Fish Biology 85:1005-1022.

Zydlewski, G.B., Stich, D.S. and McCormick, S.D.  2014.  Photoperiod control of downstream movements of Atlantic salmon smolts.  Journal of Fish Biology 85:1023-1041.

Sundh, H., Nilsen, T. O., Lindström, J., Hasselberg-Frank, L., Stefansson, S. O., McCormick, S. D. and Sundell, K.  2014.  Development of intestinal ion-transporting mechanisms during smoltification and seawater acclimation in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.).  Journal of Fish Biology 85:1227-1252.

Duffy, T.A., Iwanowicz, L. and McCormick S.D.  2014.  Comparative responses to endocrine disrupting compounds in early life stages of Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar.  Aquatic Toxicology 152:1-10.

Breves, J.P., McCormick, S.D. and Karlstrom, R.O.  2014.  Prolactin and teleost ionocytes: new insights into cellular and molecular targets of prolactin in vertebrate epithelia.  General and Comparative Endocrinology 203: 21-28.

Michalak, K., Czesny, S., Epifanio, J., Snyder, R.J., Schultz, E.T., Velotta, J.P., McCormick, S.D., Brown, B.L., Santopietro, G., Michalak, P.  2014.  Beta-thymosin gene polymorphism associated with freshwater invasiveness of alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus).  Journal of Experimental Zoology 321A: 233-240.

Velotta, J.P., Schultz, E.T., McCormick, S.D., O’Neill, R.J.  2014.  Relaxed selection causes microevolution of seawater osmoregulation and gene expression in landlocked Alewives.  Oecologia 175: 1081-1092. DOI 10.1007/s00442-014-2961-3.

Butler, M.W., Stahlschmidt, Z.R., Ardia, D.R., Davies, S., Davis, J.R., Guillette Jr., L.J., Johnson, N., McCormick, S.D., McGraw, K.J., and DeNardo, D.F.  2013  Thermal sensitivity of immune function: evidence against a generalist-specialist tradeoff among endothermic and ectothermic vertebrates.  American Naturalist 181:761-774.

Breves, J.P., Serizier, S.B., Goffin, V., McCormick, S.D. and Karlstrom, R.O.  2013.  Prolactin  regulates transcription of the ion uptake Na+/Cl- cotransporter (ncc) gene in zebrafish gill.  Cellular and Molecular Endocrinology 369: 98-106.

Takei, Y. and S. D. McCormick.  2013.  Hormonal control of fish euryhalinity. In: Fish Physiology vol. 32 Euryhaline Fishes, edited by S. D. McCormick, C. J. Brauner, and A. P. Farrell. Amsterdam, Academic Press.  Pp 69-123.

Schultz, E.T. and S. D. McCormick.  2013.  Euryhalinity in an Evolutionary Context. In: Fish Physiology vol. 32 Euryhaline Fishes, edited by S. D. McCormick, C. J. Brauner, and A. P. Farrell, Amsterdam. Academic Press.  Pp 477-533.

McCormick, S.D.  2013.  Smolt Physiology and Endocrinology. In: Fish Physiology vol. 32 Euryhaline Fishes, edited by S. D. McCormick, C. J. Brauner, and A. P. Farrell, Amsterdam. Academic Press.  Pp 199-251.

McCormick, S.D., A. M. Regish, A. K. Christensen, and B. Th. Björnsson.   2013.  Differential regulation of sodium-potassium pump isoforms during smolt development and seawater exposure of Atlantic salmon.  Journal of Experimental Biology 216: 1142-1151.

McCormick, S.D., T. Sheehan, B. Th. Björnsson, C. Lipsky, J. Kocik, A. M. Regish, and M. F. O’Dea.  2013.  Physiological and endocrine changes in Atlantic salmon smolts during hatchery rearing, downstream migration and ocean entry.  Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 70: 105-118.


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