An understanding of the migration timing patterns of Pacific salmon Oncorhynchus spp. and steelhead O. mykiss is important for managing complex mixed-stock fisheries and preserving genetic and life history diversity. We examined adult return timing for 3,317 radio-tagged fish from 38 stocks of Columbia River basin spring-summer Chinook salmon O. tshawytscha over 5 years. Stock composition varied widely within and between years depending on the strength of influential populations. Most individual stocks migrated at similar times each year relative to overall runs, supporting the hypotheses that run timing is predictable, is at least partially due to genetic adaptation, and can be used to differentiate between some conspecific populations. Arrival timing of both aggregated radio-tagged stocks and annual runs was strongly correlated with river discharge; stocks arrived earlier at Bonneville Dam and at upstream dams in years with low discharge. Migration timing analyses identified many between-stock and between-year differences in anadromous salmonid return behavior and should and managers interested in protection and recovery of evolutionary significant populations.
Additional publication details
Stock-specific migration timing of adult spring-summer Chinook salmon in the Columbia River basin