Our People

Joshua Royte

Senior Conservation Scientist, Maine


  • Areas of Expertise

    Conservation planning, landscape ecology, forest ecology, restoration


Joshua Royte is a landscape ecologist bringing the science of large forested landscapes and river networks to planning our strategies, monitoring impacts, and identifying priorities for conservation and restoration. His work includes facilitating a diversity of partnerships involved with planning and implementing conservation actions at scales ranging from broad ecoregions to specific sites.

Joshua has led the work to restore Maine river connectivity, opening some of the region's best habitat to native fish and other wildlife. His expertise also helps guide and promote river restoration globally as part of the World Fish Migration Foundation’s steering committee and as an advisor to the European Union’s AMBER International Project.

He co-authored the book From Sea to Source 2.0, describing why fish migrate, the impact of stream barriers, examples and techniques on how to fix them, and how to build greater awareness in society.

A large portion of Joshua’s time is dedicated to helping TNC’s Europe Program to develop their efforts to protect and restore rivers, with an emphasis on the western Balkans in South East Europe.

“What we’ve developed in Maine around such amazing natural resources has relevance all around the planet. To ensure healthy ecosystems persist through all the current and future planetary changes, we need to be smarter about how we treat the planet and where to focus limited resources to the best effect.”

Joshua has been focused on a healthier natural environment for the past three decades. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bard College and a masters from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Joshua previously directed The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Fox Island Center, was a planner for the National Capital Parks and Planning Commission, and conducted resource inventories for Woodlot Alternatives, Inc.

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Join a Global Celebration of Healthy Rivers!

Have you heard about World Fish Migration Day? It happens every two years, and it’s a chance to celebrate migratory fish—and the connected, healthy rivers they depend on.

Migratory fish make up a crucial link in the food chain, and they help keep our rivers healthy and productive.  Fish are also important to people—serving as a primary food source or secondary as they are often forage for marine fisheries we depend on and that support millions of people around the world.

Today, most migratory fish species are severely threatened. Man-made obstacles like dams, weirs, sluices, and culverts that disrupt the natural flow of rivers and prevent fish from reaching spawning habitat and food sources are a significant contributor to their plight. The 2020 Living Planet Index Report for freshwater migratory fish shows a 75% decline in migratory fish since just the 1970’s.

Underwater photo of a dense school of shiny silver fish.
Alewives Every spring, millions of these fish return to Maine's rivers. © Bridget Edmonds/TNC

Back in 2012, I was looking for other scientists around the North Atlantic who might also be dealing with these issues and the need to bring more attention to them. A Bowdoin intern working for me kept hearing about someone in the Netherlands who was also trying to bring fish and river restoration people together—that brought me to meeting Herman Wanningen.

Herman had a dream of developing a global event to celebrate riverine migrations and restoration projects. He called it “World Fish Migration Day.” The idea was to elevate interest and action for rivers, fish and the people who depend on them, on a grand scale, but from a local perspective. At the time, he was looking for a global organization to help launch this event more widely than his resources would allow. We started talking, and TNC agreed to provide some funding to support a website and resources for design and coordination.

Since those humble beginnings, World Fish Migration Day has grown leaps and bounds, becoming a beloved biennial event featuring local river restoration and appreciation events from around the world. The first World Fish Migration Day took place in May 2014 and presented 273 events in 53 countries. By 2018, there were 570 events in 63 countries engaging over 200,000 people! I helped write an article recently published in the journal of the American Society of Fisheries that describes the impact of this celebration on restoration practitioners, governments, and watershed groups from Korea to Gabon, Bolivia to Finland and the US.

Two men speaking to a group of people seated in a large room.
Spreading the Word Josh and Herman Wanningen talk about the importance of fish passage during a World Fish Migration Day event in 2018. © Joshua Royte/TNC

This year, with the emergence of COVID-19, World Fish Migration Day (normally a spring event) will take place on October 24, 2020. There are lots of great events and learning opportunities happening all week, too, including:

  • Wednesday, October 21: the Maine Sustainable Forest Initiative committee called the Fisheries Improvement Network is holding a webinar for members to discuss fish passage improvements in Maine’s working forest lands and a special session on wood turtles which also move up and down river corridors
  • Thursday, October 22: All are invited to the Rivers Full of Fish virtual event: a two-part webinar that showcases science and technology and celebratory narratives from the past, present, and future of river restoration efforts across North America. I'll be speaking at the event as will Herman. We're also very excited to welcome special guest Lynn Scarlett, the Chief External Affairs Officer at The Nature Conservancy.
  • Friday, October 23, at Noon: A screening of the short documentary "Love Flows" by TNC’s Pennsylvania/Delaware Chapter, followed by a panel discussion
  • Friday evening at 5:00 pm it will be October 24th in New Zealand, the kick-off for a Global World Fish Migration Day Webinar that will go through the night and end at 5:30 pm (Eastern US time) with closing events in Hawai’i.

Creating awareness and sharing knowledge are essential first steps to making real change. By spreading and accelerating people's understanding of the importance of migratory fish, the need for healthy rivers, and the connection with communities that depend on both, we can begin conversations about alternatives that minimize negative impacts or avoid them altogether, and repair past damages. Armed with this positive vision and options for change, people around the world are acting to influence decision makers and leaders to create healthier rivers full of fish.

Join the World Fish Migration Day celebration on October 22 and 24 and start spreading the word.

Twardek, W.M., Wanningen, H., Fernández Garrido, P., Brink, K., Royte, J., Berkhuysen, A., Geenen, B., and Cooke, S.J. In press, 2020. World Fish Migration Day connects fish, rivers, and people – from a one day event to a broader social movement. Fisheries Magazine 00: 000-000

Brink, K. P. Gough, J. Royte, P. P. Schollema and H. Wanningen 2018. From Sea to Source 2.0. Protection and restoration of fish migration in rivers worldwide. World Fish Migration Foundation.

Opperman, J. J., J. Royte, J. Banks, L. Rose Day and C. Apse. 2011. The Penobscot River, Maine, USA: a Basin-Scale Approach to Balancing Power Generation and Ecosystem Restoration. Ecology and Society 16 (3): 7. [online]

Cogbill, C. and J. L. Royte 2001.  Determining Spatial Landscape Patterns and Disturbance Regimes from Historical Records, The Nature Conservancy’s Upper St. John River Lands, Northwest Maine, USA.  Proceedings of the Forest Ecology Information Exchange: Forestry Stucture, a Multi-layer Conversation. October 25, 2001. Orono, Maine.

Royte, J.L. and J.P. Lortie.  2000. New occurrences of Scirpus ancistrochaetus in New Hampshire. Rhodora, v.102 (910): 210-213.

Royte, J. L., D. D. Sperduto, and J. P. Lortie. 1996. Botanical reconnaissance of Nancy Brook Research Natural Area. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-216. Radnor, PA: U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 23 p. 4Mb

Hill, J. M., J. L. Royte, and J. M. Swearingen. 1990. A Permanent plot system for natural resources management decisions in a rapidly urbanizing county. State-of-the-Art Methodology of Forest Inventory. USDA Forest Service, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-263.

Berlyn, G. P., J. L. Royte and A. O. Anoruo. 1990. Cytophotometric separation of high elevation spruces: Physiological and ecological implications. Stain Technology Vol.65(1-13).

Berlyn, G. P., J. L. Royte and A. O. Anoruo. 1989. Genetic characterization of high elevation spruce of the northeastern United States. In Adams, M.B. and C. Eager (eds.) Air and Winter Injury of Red Spruce.

Royte, J. R., L. Brako, and R. C. Harris  1985. Two crustose lichen new to North America. Evansia. Vol.2 (1).