In the context of delta restoration and its impact on salmonid rearing, success is best evaluated based on whether out-migrating juvenile salmon can access and benefit from suitable estuarine habitat. Here, we integrated 3 years of post-restoration monitoring data including habitat availability, invertebrate prey biomass, and juvenile Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) physiological condition to determine whether individuals profited from the addition of 364 ha of delta habitat in South Puget Sound, Washington, United States. Productivity in the restored mudflat was comparable to reference sites 3 years after dike removal, surpassing a mean total of 6 million kJ energy from invertebrate prey. This resulted from the development of a complex network of tidal channels and a resurgence in dipteran biomass that was unique to the restoration area. Consequently, a notable shift in invertebrate consumption occurred between 2010 and 2011, whereby individuals switched from eating primarily amphipods to dipteran flies; however, dietary similarity to the surrounding habitat did not change from year to year, suggesting that this shift was a result of a change in the surrounding prey communities. Growth rates did not differ between restored and reference sites, but catch weight was positively correlated with prey biomass, where greater prey productivity appeared to offset potential density-dependent effects. These results demonstrate how the realized function of restoring estuarine habitat is functionally dependent. High prey productivity in areas with greater connectivity may support healthy juvenile salmon that are more likely to reach the critical size class for offshore survival.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Gauging resource exploitation by juvenile Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in restoring estuarine habitat|
|Series title||Restoration Ecology|
|Contributing office(s)||Western Ecological Research Center|
|Other Geospatial||Puget Sound|