We investigated the spawning patterns of Chinook Salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha on the lower Cowlitz River, Washington, using a unique set of fine- and coarse-scale temporal and spatial data collected during biweekly aerial surveys conducted in 1991–2009 (500 m to 28 km resolution) and 2008–2009 (100–500 m resolution). Redd locations were mapped from a helicopter during 2008 and 2009 with a hand-held GPS synchronized with in-flight audio recordings. We examined spatial patterns of Chinook Salmon redd reoccupation among and within years in relation to segment-scale geomorphic features. Chinook Salmon spawned in the same sections each year with little variation among years. On a coarse scale, 5 years (1993, 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2009) were compared for reoccupation. Redd locations were highly correlated among years. Comparisons on a fine scale (500 m) between 2008 and 2009 also revealed a high degree of consistency among redd locations. On a finer temporal scale, we observed that Chinook Salmon spawned in the same sections during the first and last week. Redds were clustered in both 2008 and 2009. Regression analysis with a generalized linear model at the 500-m scale indicated that river kilometer and channel bifurcation were positively associated with redd density, whereas sinuosity was negatively associated with redd density. Collecting data on specific redd locations with a GPS during aerial surveys was logistically feasible and cost effective and greatly enhanced the spatial precision of Chinook Salmon spawning surveys.
Additional Publication Details
Spatial consistency of chinook salmon redd distribution within and among years in the Cowlitz River, Washington