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Life history variation in upper Columbia River Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha): a comparison using modern and ~500-year-old archaeological otoliths

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Conservation planning often occurs only after a species has been extirpated from portions of its historical range and limited information is available on life history diversity prior to development. To provide information on Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) life history before and after local extirpation, we examined the chemical (87Sr:86Sr, Sr:Ca) and structural composition of modern and archaeological otoliths from the upper Columbia River. We compared otoliths from modern spring (yearling migrant, n = 15) and summer–fall (yearling (n = 7) and subyearling (n = 12) migrants) runs with those from extirpated runs (n = 8) to estimate the number of and similarity among natal environments and reconstruct aspects of the migratory history. Presumptive natal sources were most similar between the archaeological collections and the modern summer–fall run. Chinook salmon represented by the archaeological otoliths also displayed life history traits, including size at freshwater emigration and adult size at return to fresh water, most similar to the summer–fall subyearling run. These data indicate that there is the potential to maintain aspects of predevelopment Chinook salmon life histories in the Columbia River, and strategies that promote maintenance of that life history diversity may be warranted.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Portland State University, Department of Anthropology, P.O. Box 751, Portland, OR 97207, USA. 2: University of Washington, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, Box 355020, Seattle, WA 98195-5020, USA. 3: Williams College, Department of Geosciences, 947 Main Street, Williamstown, MA 01267, USA. 4: Oregon State University, Department of Geosciences, 104 Wilkinson Hall, Corvallis, OR 97330, USA.

Publication date: 2011-04-12

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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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