The upstream migration of adult anadromous salmonids in the Columbia River Basin (CRB) has been dramatically altered and fish may be experiencing energetically costly delays at dams. To explore this notion, we estimated the energetic costs of migration and reproduction of Yakima River-bound spring Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha using a sequential analysis of their proximate composition (i.e., percent water, fat, protein, and ash). Tissues (muscle, viscera, and gonad) were sampled from fish near the start of their migration (Bonneville Dam), at a mid point (Roza Dam, 510 km upstream from Bonneville Dam) and from fresh carcasses on the spawning grounds (about 100 km above Roza Dam). At Bonneville Dam, the energy reserves of these fish were remarkably high, primarily due to the high percentage of fat in the muscle (18-20%; energy content over 11 kJ g-1). The median travel time for fish from Bonneville to Roza Dam was 27 d and ranged from 18 to 42 d. Fish lost from 6 to 17% of their energy density in muscle, depending on travel time. On average, fish taking a relatively long time for migration between dams used from 5 to 8% more energy from the muscle than faster fish. From the time they passed Bonneville Dam to death, these fish, depending on gender, used 95-99% of their muscle and 73-86% of their viscera lipid stores. Also, both sexes used about 32% of their muscular and very little of their visceral protein stores. However, we were unable to relate energy use and reproductive success to migration history. Our results suggest a possible influence of the CRB hydroelectric system on adult salmonid energetics.
Additional publication details
Evaluation of energy expenditure in adult spring Chinook salmon migrating upstream in the Columbia River Basin: An assessment based on sequential proximate analysis