We used stable isotopes of carbon in a growth-dependent tissue-turnover model to quantify the relative contribution of autochthonous and terrestrial energy sources to juvenile chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in five small boreal streams tributary to the upper Yukon River. We used a tissue-turnover model because fish did not grow enough to come into isotopic equilibrium with their diet. In two streams, autochthonous energy sources contributed 23 and 41% to the growth of juvenile salmon. In the other three, fish growth was largely due to terrestrial (i.e., allochthonous) energy sources. This low contribution of autochthonous energy appeared to be related to stream-specific disturbances: a recent forest fire impacted two of the streams and the third was affected by a large midsummer spate during the study. These disturbances reduced the relative abundance of herbivorous macroinvertebrates, the contribution of autochthonous material to other invertebrates, and ultimately, the energy flow between stream algae and fish. Our findings suggest that disturbances to streams can be an important mechanism affecting transfer of primary energy sources to higher trophic levels.
Additional Publication Details
Effects of disturbance on contribution of energy sources to growth of juvenile chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in boreal streams
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences