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Models of the effects of marine-derived nutrients on salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) population dynamics

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Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) populations transfer large quantities of nutrients from their marine to their freshwater habitats. These nutrients have been shown to affect salmon populations in fresh water, including increasing basal food resources and elevating juvenile salmon growth rates and condition. The broader effects on recruitment and commercial harvests, however, are not clear. I developed and explored mathematical models of the effects of these nutrients on stock–recruitment relationships and used these models to investigate management implications. Populations strongly dependent on nutrients had lower sustained yields than those not dependent on nutrients. When nutrients strongly affected the stock–recruitment relationship, relatively low harvest rates and high escapement levels were necessary to maintain the population’s productivity. However, in some scenarios, the highest yields were obtained from small, nutrient-depleted populations. In other scenarios, the nutrient dependence had few management implications.

Les populations de saumons du Pacifique (Oncorhynchus spp.) transfèrent d’importantes quantités de nutriments de leur habitat marin à leur habitat d’eau douce. On a démontré que ces nutriments affectent les populations de saumons en eau douce, notamment en accroissant leurs ressources alimentaires de base et en stimulant les taux de croissance et la condition des jeunes saumons. Les effets plus larges sur le recrutement et les pêches commerciales ne sont, cependant, pas clairs. La mise au point et l’exploration de modèles mathématiques des effets de ces nutriments sur les relations stock–recrutement permettent d’étudier les conséquences au niveau de la gestion. Les populations fortement dépendantes de ces nutriments ont un rendement durable plus faible que les populations qui ne dépendent pas de ces nutriments. Lorsque les nutriments affectent fortement la relation stock–recrutement, il faut, pour maintenir la productivité de la population, avoir des taux relativement bas de capture et des niveaux élevés d’échappement. Néanmoins, dans certains scénarios, les rendements les plus élevés s’obtiennent dans de petites populations privées de nutriments. Dans d’autres scénarios, la dépendance des nutriments a peu de conséquences sur la gestion.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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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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