Pink salmon Onchorhynchus gorbuscha with identifiable thermal otolith marks from Prince William Sound hatchery release groups during 2001 were used to test the hypothesis that faster-growing fish during their first summer in the ocean had higher survival rates than slower-growing fish. Marked juvenile pink salmon were sampled monthly in Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska, and adults that survived to maturity were recovered at hatchery release sites the following year. Surviving fish exhibited significantly wider circuli spacing on the region of the scale formed during early marine residence than did juveniles collected at sea during their first ocean summer, indicating that marine survival after the first growing season was related to increases in early marine growth. At the same circuli, a significantly larger average scale radius for returning adults than for juveniles from the same hatchery would suggest that larger, faster-growing juveniles had a higher survival rate and that significant size-selective mortality occurred after the juveniles were sampled. Growth patterns inferred from intercirculi spacing on scales varied among hatchery release groups, suggesting that density-dependent processes differed among release groups and occurred across Prince William Sound and the coastal Gulf of Alaska. These observations support other studies that have found that larger, faster-growing fish are more likely to survive until maturity. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2005.
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Evidence for size-selective mortality after the first summer of ocean growth by pink salmon