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Salmon smolt survival similar in Columbia and Fraser rivers
Date:10/28/2008

ometimes fish from the same hatchery would range from poor to excellent in quality, possibly due to environmental factors such as water temperature in the reservoirs. These same mechanisms may also apply to wild fish where we see different watersheds producing smolts of differing quality.

"The point is that the quality of smolts entering into the system can have an impact on their ability to survive the entire migration and the transition into the ocean," Clements added. "We don't really have a good understanding of the link between fish quality, hydrosystem operations and delayed mortality."

The PLoS study used a variety of methods to evaluate survival. In the impounded reach of the Columbia River, the researchers used Passive Integrated Technology (PIT) tag data to evaluate survival between the upper and lower most dams. Tens of thousands of smolts in the upper river are routinely implanted with PIT tags by a number of resource agencies and the data is available online. Below Bonneville Dam and in the Fraser River they had to use acoustic tags, which are bigger, to pick up a signal from greater distance. The researchers tagged between 300 and 600 fish annually during a four-year period.

The studies in the Fraser River and the Columbia River determined that the survival rate of the smolts at least to the estuary was almost identical. Interestingly, both Clements and Schreck have been involved with other studies, on Oregon's Nehalem and Alsea rivers, that also found a general mortality rate of about 60 percent. In rivers without dams, mortality can be a function of predation especially by fish, birds and seals or it can be from disease, poor water quality, or lack of food.

"One question that this study raises is: Is significant mortality during in-river migration natural? And if so, what proportion of the fish that are killed by dams in the Columbia directly or indirectly would have died anyway," Clements said.

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Contact: Carl Schreck
carl.schreck@oregonstate.edu
541-737-1961
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3 4

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