The role of coastal ocean variation in spatial and temporal patterns in survival and size of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch)
Hobday, AJ and Boehlert, GW, The role of coastal ocean variation in spatial and temporal patterns in survival and size of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 58, (10) pp. 2021-2036. ISSN 0706-652X (2001) [Refereed Article]
Interannual and decadal variability in ocean survival of salmon are well known, but the mechanisms through which environmental variability exerts its effects are poorly understood. Data on hatchery-reared coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) from individual releases (1973-1998) along the species' entire North American range were analyzed to provide information on survival and size. Three geographic regions (north of Vancouver Island, Puget Sound and Strait of Georgia, and the outer coast south of the tip of Vancouver Island) showed coherent trends in survival and size of returning fish. Within each region, multivariate nonlinear models were used to relate coho survival and final size to spatially and temporally tailored environmental variables at time periods of release, jack return, and adult return. The most important environmental variable, as indicated by the highest amount of variance explained, was a calculated proxy for mixed-layer depth, followed by sea level. In all regions, survival and adult size were most influenced by environmental conditions at the release time. A shallow mixed layer was associated with increased survival and decreased size in all regions. Improved understanding of the relationship between environmental conditions and size and survival of coho salmon provides insight into production patterns in the coastal ocean.