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Year-to-year variability in ocean recovery rate of Columbia River Upriver Bright fall Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)

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Unusually large returns of several stocks of fall Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) from the U.S. Northwest commonly occurred during the late 1980s. These synchronous events seem to have been due to ocean rather than freshwater conditions because natal rivers of these stocks were geographically disconnected. We examined year-to-year variability in cohort strength of one of these stocks, Upriver Bright (URB) fall Chinook salmon from the Columbia River Hanford Reach for brood years 1976–99 (recovery years 1979–2002). We used the ocean recovery rate of coded-wire-tag (CWT) fish as an index of cohort strength. To analyse year-to-year variability in the ocean recovery rate, we applied a log-linear model whose candidate explanatory variables were ocean condition variables, fishing effort, age of recovered fish, and fish rearing type (hatchery versus wild). Explanatory variables in the best model included fishing effort, and the quadratic term of winter sea surface temperature (SST) measured from coastal waters of British Columbia, Canada during the fish's first ocean year. The coefficient of the quadratic term of SST was significantly negative, so the model shape was convex. Our findings can be used to infer year-to-year variability in cohort strength of other fall Chinook salmon whose life history and ocean distributions are similar to the URB fish.

Keywords: Columbia River; Upriver Bright fall Chinook salmon; coastal waters of British Columbia; coded-wire-tag; fishing effort; ocean recovery rate; winter sea surface temperature; year-to-year variability

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Box 355020, Seattle, WA 98195, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2007


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