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Effect of changing land use patterns on the distribution of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) in the Puget Sound region

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Population increase in the Pacific Northwest of North America over the last century has led to the removal of forests for various purposes. Evidence of salmon response to these alterations in land use is rare owing to a scarcity of fish population data and a high degree of interannual variation in abundance. We examined the relationship between the spatial distribution of spawning coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and changes in land use from 1984 through 2001 at 84 sites in four rivers draining into northern Puget Sound. Changes in land use over this period were determined from LandSat imagery, county zoning designations, and aerial photographs. Substantial reduction in forest cover occurred in many of the index watersheds during this time. The proportion of salmon using sites subjected to increased urban land use over the study period declined about 75%. Increases were observed at forested sites and those with increased rural residential use. Maintaining salmon populations in rapidly developing areas may require the identification and protection of sites that support large salmon populations and steering development to areas supporting few fish.

La croissance démographique dans la région pacifique du nord-ouest de l’Amérique du Nord au cours du dernier siècle a entraîné l’élimination de forêts dans des buts divers. Des informations sur la réaction des saumons à ces modifications de l’utilisation des terres restent rares à cause de la pénurie de données démographiques sur les poissons et de l’importance considérable de la variation interannuelle de l’abondance. Nous examinons la relation entre la répartition spatiale des saumons coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch) durant la fraie et les changements d’utilisation des terres de 1984 à la fin de 2001 à 84 sites dans quatre rivières qui se déversent dans le nord de Puget Sound. Les changements d’utilisation des terres durant cette période ont pu être déterminés à partir d’imagerie LandSat, de l’établissement du zonage au niveau des comtés et de photographies aériennes. Il y a eu des réductions importantes de la couverture forestière dans plusieurs des bassins versants concernés durant cette période. La proportion de saumons exploitant les sites soumis à une utilisation urbaine accrue durant la période d’étude a diminué d’environ 75 %. Des augmentations ont été observées dans les sites forestiers et ceux dans lesquels les résidences rurales se sont multipliées. Pour maintenir les populations de saumons dans les régions en développement rapide, il faudra sans doute identifier et protéger les sites qui contiennent de fortes populations de saumons et réorienter le développement vers les régions qui contiennent peu de poissons.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-10-01

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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