We examined how marine-derived nutrients (MDN), in the form of spawning Pacific salmon, influenced the nutritional status and δ15N of stream-dwelling fishes. We sampled juvenile coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma) during spring and fall from 11 south-central Alaskan streams that ranged widely in spawning salmon biomass (0.1–4.7 kg·m–2). Growth rate (as indexed by RNA–DNA ratios), energy density, and δ15N enrichment in spring-sampled fishes increased with spawner biomass, indicating the persistence of spawner effects more than 6 months after salmon spawning. Point estimates suggest that spawner effects on nutrition were substantially greater for coho salmon than Dolly Varden (268% and 175% greater for growth and energy, respectively), indicating that both species benefitted physiologically, but that juvenile coho salmon accrued more benefits than Dolly Varden. Although the data were less conclusive for fall- than spring-sampled fish, they do suggest spawner effects were also generally positive during fall, soon after salmon spawned. In a follow-up analysis where growth rate and energy density were modeled as a function of δ15N enrichment, results suggested that both increased with MDN assimilation, especially in juvenile coho salmon. Our results support the importance of salmon runs to the nutritional ecology of stream-dwelling fishes.
Additional Publication Details
Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) runs and consumer fitness: growth and energy storage in stream-dwelling salmonids increase with salmon spawner density
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences