Sex-biased survivorship and differences in migration of wild steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) smolts from two coastal Oregon rivers

Ecology of Freshwater Fish
By: , and 



In salmonids with partial migration, females are more likely than males to undergo smoltification and migrate to the ocean (vs. maturing in freshwater). However, it is not known whether sex affects survivorship during smolt migration (from fresh water to entry into the ocean). We captured wild steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) smolts in two coastal Oregon rivers (USA) and collected fin tissue samples for genetic sex determination (2009; N = 70 in the Alsea and N = 69 in the Nehalem, 2010; N = 25 in the Alsea). We implanted acoustic tags and monitored downstream migration and survival until entry in to the Pacific Ocean. Survival was defined as detection at an estuary/ocean transition array. We found no effect of sex on smolt survivorship in the Nehalem River in 2009, or in the Alsea River in 2010. However, males exhibited significantly lower survival than females in the Alsea River during 2009. Residency did not influence this result as an equal proportion of males and females did not reach the estuary entrance (11% of males, 9% of females). The sexes did not differ in timing or duration of migration, so those variables seem unlikely to explain sex-biased survivorship. Larger males had higher odds of survival than smaller males in 2009, but the body size of females did not affect survivorship. The difference in survivorship between years in the Alsea River could be due to flow conditions, which were higher in 2010 than in 2009. Our findings suggest that sex may affect steelhead smolt survival during migration, but that the difference in survivorship may be weak and not a strong factor influencing adult sex ratios.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Sex-biased survivorship and differences in migration of wild steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) smolts from two coastal Oregon rivers
Series title Ecology of Freshwater Fish
DOI 10.1111/eff.12242
Volume 25
Issue 4
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Seattle
Description 10 p.
First page 642
Last page 651
Country United States
State Oregon
Other Geospatial Alsea River, Nehalem River
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional metadata about this publication, not found in other parts of the page is in this table