Two year-classes of juvenile spring chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha from the Yakima River, Washington, were sampled from July (3-4 months postemergence) through May (yearling smolt out-migration). Physiological characters measured included liver glycogen, body lipid, gill Na+-K+ ATPase, plasma thyroxine (T4), and plasma insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I). Distinct physiological changes were found that corresponded to season. Summer and fall were characterized by relatively high body lipid and condition factor. Winter was characterized by decreases in body lipid, condition factor, and plasma hormones. An increase in condition factor and body lipid was found in February and March. Finally, April and May were characterized by dramatic changes characteristic of smolting, including increased gill Na+-K+ ATPase activity, plasma T4, and IGF-I and decreased condition factor, body lipid, and liver glycogen. These results create a physiological template for juvenile spring chinook salmon in the drainage that provides a baseline for comparison with other years, populations, and life history types. In addition, this baseline provides a standard for controlled laboratory experiments and a target for fish culturists who rear juvenile spring chinook salmon for release from conservation hatcheries. The implications of these results for juvenile chinook salmon ecology and life history are discussed.
Additional publication details
Physiological status of naturally reared juvenile spring chinook salmon in the Yakima River: Seasonal dynamics and changes associated with smolting