Linking functional response and bioenergetics to estimate juvenile salmon growth in a reservoir food web

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Juvenile salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) use of reservoir food webs is understudied. We examined the feeding behavior of subyearling Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) and its relation to growth by estimating the functional response of juvenile salmon to changes in the density of Daphnia, an important component of reservoir food webs. We then estimated salmon growth across a broad range of water temperatures and daily rations of two primary prey, Daphnia and juvenile American shad (Alosa sapidissima) using a bioenergetics model. Laboratory feeding experiments yielded a Type-II functional response curve: C = 29.858 P *(4.271 + P)-1 indicating that salmon consumption (C) of Daphnia was not affected until Daphnia densities (P) were < 30 · L-1. Past field studies documented Daphnia densities in lower Columbia River reservoirs of < 3 · L-1 in July but as high as 40 · L-1 in August. Bioenergetics modeling indicated that subyearlings could not achieve positive growth above 22°C regardless of prey type or consumption rate. When feeding on Daphnia, subyearlings could not achieve positive growth above 20°C (water temperatures they commonly encounter in the lower Columbia River during summer). At 16–18°C, subyearlings had to consume about 27,000 Daphnia · day-1 to achieve positive growth. However, when feeding on juvenile American shad, subyearlings had to consume 20 shad · day-1 at 16–18°C, or at least 25 shad · day-1 at 20°C to achieve positive growth. Using empirical consumption rates and water temperatures from summer 2013, subyearlings exhibited negative growth during July (-0.23 to -0.29 g · d-1) and August (-0.05 to -0.07 g · d-1). By switching prey from Daphnia to juvenile shad which have a higher energy density, subyearlings can partially compensate for the effects of higher water temperatures they experience in the lower Columbia River during summer. However, achieving positive growth as piscivores requires subyearlings to feed at higher consumption rates than they exhibited empirically. While our results indicate compromised growth in reservoir habitats, the long-term repercussions to salmon populations in the Columbia River Basin are unknown.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Linking functional response and bioenergetics to estimate juvenile salmon growth in a reservoir food web
Series title PLoS ONE
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0185933
Volume 10
Issue 12
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher PLOS
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description e0185933; 21 p.
First page 1
Last page 21
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