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Covariation between the average lengths of mature coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) and the ocean environment

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We used the average fork length of age-3 returning coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and age-3 ocean-type and age-4 stream-type Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) salmon along the northeast Pacific coast to assess the covariability between established oceanic environmental indices and growth. These indices included the Multivariate El Niño-Southern Oscillation Index (MEI), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Northern Oscillation Index, and Aleutian Low Pressure Index. Washington, Oregon, and California (WOC) salmon sizes were negatively correlated with the MEI values indicating that ultimate fish size was affected negatively by El Niño-like events. Further, we show that the growth trajectory of WOC salmon was set following the first ocean winter. Returning ocean-type British Columbia-Puget Sound Chinook salmon average fork length was positively correlated with the MEI values during the summer and autumn of return year, which was possibly a result of a shallower mixed layer and improved food-web productivity of subarctic Pacific waters. Size variation of coho salmon stocks south of Alaska was synchronous and negatively correlated with warm conditions (positive PDO) and weak North Pacific high pressure during ocean residence.

Keywords: Aleutian Low Pressure Index; El Niño-Southern Oscillation; Multivariate El Niño-Southern Oscillation Index; Northern Oscillation Index; Pacific Decadal Oscillation; Pacific salmon; environment; growth

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: NOAA Fisheries, Santa Cruz Laboratory, 110 Shaffer Road, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA 2: NOAA Fisheries, La Jolla Laboratory, 8604 La Jolla Shores Dr., La Jolla, CA 92037, USA

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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