We examined how climatic regime shifts may have affected predation rates on juvenile Pacific salmonids (Oncorhynchus spp.) by northern squawfish (Ptychocheilus oregonensis, also called northern pikeminnow), smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu), and walleye (Stizostedion vitreum) in the Columbia River. During 1933-1996, oceanic, coastal, and freshwater indices of climate were highly correlated, and an index for the Columbia River Basin suggested that climate shifts may have occurred about 1946, 1958, 1969, and 1977. Summer water temperature varied as much as 2??C between climate periods. We used a bioenergetics model for northern squawfish, the most important piscivore, to predict that predation on salmonids would have been 26-31% higher during two periods with relatively warm spring-summer water temperatures (1933-1946, 1978-1996) than during an extremely cold period (1947-1958). Predicted predation rates of northern squawfish were 68-96% higher in the warmest year compared with the coldest year. Predation rates of smallmouth bass and walleye on juvenile salmonids varied among climate periods similar to rates predicted for northern squawfish. Climatic effects need to be understood in both freshwater and nearshore marine habitats, since growth rates of salmon populations are especially sensitive to mortality during early life stages.
Additional Publication Details
Climate regimes and water temperature changes in the Columbia River: Bioenergetic implications for predators of juvenile salmon
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences