Distribution, stock composition and timing, and tagging response of wild Chinook Salmon returning to a large, free-flowing river basin

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
By: , and 

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Abstract

Chinook Salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha returns to the Yukon River basin have declined dramatically since the late 1990s, and detailed information on the spawning distribution, stock structure, and stock timing is needed to better manage the run and facilitate conservation efforts. A total of 2,860 fish were radio-tagged in the lower basin during 2002–2004 and tracked upriver. Fish traveled to spawning areas throughout the basin, ranging from several hundred to over 3,000 km from the tagging site. Similar distribution patterns were observed across years, suggesting that the major components of the run were identified. Daily and seasonal composition estimates were calculated for the component stocks. The run was dominated by two regional components comprising over 70% of the return. Substantially fewer fish returned to other areas, ranging from 2% to 9% of the return, but their collective contribution was appreciable. Most regional components consisted of several principal stocks and a number of small, spatially isolated populations. Regional and stock composition estimates were similar across years even though differences in run abundance were reported, suggesting that the differences in abundance were not related to regional or stock-specific variability. Run timing was relatively compressed compared with that in rivers in the southern portion of the species’ range. Most stocks passed through the lower river over a 6-week period, ranging in duration from 16 to 38 d. Run timing was similar for middle- and upper-basin stocks, limiting the use of timing information for management. The lower-basin stocks were primarily later-run fish. Although differences were observed, there was general agreement between our composition and timing estimates and those from other assessment projects within the basin, suggesting that the telemetry-based estimates provided a plausible approximation of the return. However, the short duration of the run, complex stock structure, and similar stock timing complicate management of Yukon River returns.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Distribution, stock composition and timing, and tagging response of wild Chinook Salmon returning to a large, free-flowing river basin
Series title Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
DOI 10.1080/00028487.2014.959997
Volume 143
Issue 6
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Seattle
Description 32 p.
First page 1476
Last page 1507
Country Canada, United States
State Alaska, Yukon Territory
Other Geospatial Yukon River Basin