Fall Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha in the Snake River basin were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1992. At the time of listing, it was assumed that fall Chinook salmon juveniles in the Snake River basin adhered strictly to an ocean-type life history characterized by saltwater entry at age 0 and first-year wintering in the ocean. Research showed, however, that some fall Chinook salmon juveniles in the Snake River basin spent their first winter in a reservoir and resumed seaward movement the following spring at age 1 (hereafter, reservoir-type juveniles). We collected wild and hatchery ocean-type fall Chinook salmon juveniles in 1997 and wild and hatchery reservoir-type juveniles in 1998 to assess the condition of the reservoir-type juveniles at the onset of seaward movement. The ocean-type juveniles averaged 112-139 mm fork length, and the reservoir-type juveniles averaged 222-224 mm fork length. The large size of the reservoir-type juveniles suggested a high potential for survival to salt water and subsequent return to freshwater. Scale pattern analyses of the fall Chinook salmon spawners we collected during 1998-2003 supported this point. Of the spawners sampled, an overall average of 41% of the wild fish and 51% of the hatchery fish had been reservoir-type juveniles. Males that had been reservoir-type juveniles often returned as small "minijacks" (wild, 16% of total; hatchery, 40% of total), but 84% of the wild males, 60% of the hatchery males, and 100% of the wild and hatchery females that had been reservoir-type juveniles returned at ages and fork lengths commonly observed in populations of Chinook salmon. We conclude that fall Chinook salmon in the Snake River basin exhibit two alternative juvenile life histories, namely ocean-type and reservoir-type. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2005.
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Two alternative juvenile life history types for fall Chinook salmon in the Snake River basin