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Influence of pinniped-caused injuries on the survival of adult Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in the Columbia River basin

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Increasing pinniped abundance in the Pacific Northwest has coincided with population declines of Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) and steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and concentrated predation may affect the recovery of some threatened and endangered salmonid stocks. We used radiotelemetry to evaluate pinniped-caused injury effects on migration survival of 17 007 adult Columbia River Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and steelhead trout. Injuries from pinnipeds were common (mean injury rate across 29 run-years = 36.5%) and were most common for spring Chinook salmon and steelhead trout. Injury was not consistently associated with adult survival to spawning tributaries, but some negative survival effects were detected. Pinniped-caused injury rates decreased as annual run sizes increased, indicating density-dependent or saturation effects. Within a run, large fish generally had a higher injury incidence than small fish, suggesting pinnipeds targeted large fish or more efficiently captured small fish. Seasonal, size-dependent, and density-dependent results imply that pinniped effects likely differ widely among salmonid populations within the Columbia River basin. A better understanding of these effects is needed to guide management and conservation strategies.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-10-01

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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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