William Edwin Ricker

William Edwin Ricker, OC, FRSC, fishery and aquatic biologist (born 11 August 1908 in Waterdown, ON; died 8 September 2001 in Nanaimo, BC). Ricker was widely recognized as Canada's foremost fishery scientist.

William Edwin Ricker, OC, FRSC, fishery and aquatic biologist (born 11 August 1908 in Waterdown, ON; died 8 September 2001 in Nanaimo, BC). Ricker was widely recognized as Canada's foremost fishery scientist. Through his work with the Fisheries Research Board (FRB) and the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, British Columbia, he achieved world acclaim for original contributions in the study of fish population dynamics and many other aspects of biological research fundamental to fisheries management.

Born in Waterdown, Ricker grew up in North Bay, Ontario, and graduated from North Bay Collegiate. In 1926, he started his studies at the University of Toronto, from which he received his BA (1930) and MA (1931). After finishing his Master’s degree, Ricker started work with the Biological Board of Canada (later the Fisheries Research Board) at Cultis Lake, which was a satellite station of the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo. In 1934, he met Marion Cardwell, a public health nurse in Chilliwack. The two married in spring 1935 and moved to Toronto, where Ricker completed his PhD (1936).

Following completion of his PhD, the couple embarked on a tour of Europe before returning to British Columbia and Ricker’s work with the Fisheries Research Board. In 1938, Ricker joined the newly established International Pacific Salmon Commission. The following year, he became professor of zoology at Indiana University, where he stayed until 1950, when he returned to Canada to become editor of publications for the FRB, stationed at the Pacific Biological Station. He later became Chief Scientist of the FRB. In 1973, Ricker officially retired but continued to do research.

During his career, Ricker authored over 300 publications. He was best known for Computation and Interpretation of Biological Statistics of Fish Populations (1975) and for his development of new concepts of the relationship between parent fish stock size and the number of resulting progeny: Stock and Recruitment (1954). Both publications have been widely used in the management of national and international fisheries important to Canada and both won him awards from the North American Wildlife Society.

Ricker was noted as a limnologist for his theories on lake circulation and in the field of entomology as a world authority on Plecoptera, or stoneflies. Self-taught in Russian, he did much to create an awareness of Soviet fishery science in the Western world through translations and by publishing a Russian-English Dictionary for students of fisheries and aquatic biology (1973).

Honours and Awards

Fellow, Royal Society of Canada (1956)
Gold Medal, Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (1966)
First Recipient of the Award of Excellence, American Fisheries Society (1969)
The Flavelle Medal, Royal Society of Canada (1970)
Honorary Doctorate, University of Manitoba (1970)
Honorary Doctorate, Dalhousie University (1974)
FEJ Fry Medal, Canadian Society of Zoologists (1983)
Officer, Order of Canada (1986)


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