Relationships between habitat characteristics and breeding population densities in sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)

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Abstract:

We examine the importance of stream habitat characteristics in governing variation in spawning densities of sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) across 32 streams in the Fraser River Basin, British Columbia, Canada. We used mixed-effects models to examine four competing hypotheses for the influence of abiotic stream characteristics acting on either adult salmon or embryo mortality. All models that received support using Akaike’s information criterion included stream characteristics that are associated with cover. These included the percent area of pools, percentage of the banks that were undercut, and large woody debris (in that order). These results suggest the importance of stream characteristics, which reduce risk of predation on adults, in determining spawning sockeye salmon densities. Thus, identification of a small number of physical characteristics of streams provides insight into ecological processes that determine population densities. This information can be used to quantify habitat quality, which can guide habitat prioritization for conservation.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/f2011-015

Publication date: May 18, 2011

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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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