Estimating freshwater productivity, overwinter survival, and migration patterns of Klamath River Coho Salmon

Arcata Fisheries Technical Report TR 2018-33

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An area of great importance to resource management and conservation biology in the Klamath Basin is balancing water usage against the life history requirements of threatened Coho Salmon. One tool for addressing this topic is a freshwater dynamics model to forecast Coho Salmon productivity based on environmental inputs. Constructing such a forecasting tool requires local data to quantify the unique life history processes of Coho Salmon inhabiting this region. Here, we describe analytical methods for estimating a series of sub-models, each capturing a different life history process, which will eventually be synchronized as part of a freshwater dynamics model for Klamath River Coho Salmon. Specifically, we draw upon extensive population monitoring data collected in the basin to estimate models of freshwater productivity, overwinter survival, and migration patterns. Our models of freshwater productivity indicated that high summer temperatures and high winter flows can both adversely affect smolt production and that such relationships are more likely in tributaries with naturally regulated flows due to substantial intraannual environmental variation. Our models of overwinter survival demonstrated extensive variability in survival among years, but not among rearing locations, and demonstrated that a substantial proportion (~ 20%) of age-0+ fish emigrate from some rearing sites in the winter. Our models of migration patterns indicated that many age-0+ fish redistribute in the basin during the summer and winter. Further, we observed that these redistributions can entail long migrations in the mainstem where environmental stressors likely play a role in cueing refuge entry. Finally, our models of migration patterns indicated that changes in discharge are important in cueing the seaward migration of smolts, but that the nature of this behavioral response can differ dramatically between tributaries with naturally and artificially regulated flows. Collectively, these analyses demonstrate that environmental variation interacts with most phases of the freshwater life history of Klamath River Coho Salmon and that anthropogenic environmental variation can have a particularly large bearing on productivity.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
Federal Government Series
Estimating freshwater productivity, overwinter survival, and migration patterns of Klamath River Coho Salmon
Series title:
Arcata Fisheries Technical Report
Series number:
TR 2018-33
Year Published:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office
Contributing office(s):
Western Fisheries Research Center
x, 74 p.