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Changes in habitat availability for outmigrating juvenile salmon (Oncorhychus spp.) following estuary restoration

May 18, 2016

The restoration of the Nisqually River Delta (Washington, U.S.A.) represents one of the largest efforts toward reestablishing the ecosystem function and resilience of modified habitat in the Puget Sound, particularly for anadromous salmonid species. The opportunity for outmigrating salmon to access and benefit from the expansion of available tidal habitat can be quantified by several physical attributes, which are related to the ecological and physiological responses of juvenile salmon. We monitored a variety of physical parameters to measure changes in opportunity potential from historic, pre-restoration, and post-restoration habitat conditions at several sites across the delta. These parameters included channel morphology, water quality, tidal elevation, and landscape connectivity. We conducted fish catch surveys across the delta to determine if salmon was utilizing restored estuary habitat. Overall major channel area increased 42% and major channel length increased 131% from pre- to post-restoration conditions. Furthermore, the results of our tidal inundation model indicated that major channels were accessible up to 75% of the time, as opposed to 30% pre-restoration. Outmigrating salmon utilized this newly accessible habitat as quickly as 1 year post-restoration. The presence of salmon in restored tidal channels confirmed rapid post-restoration increases in opportunity potential on the delta despite habitat quality differences between restored and reference sites.

Publication Year 2016
Title Changes in habitat availability for outmigrating juvenile salmon (Oncorhychus spp.) following estuary restoration
DOI 10.1111/rec.12333
Authors Christopher S. Ellings, Melanie J. Davis, Eric E. Grossman, Sayre Hodgson, Kelley L. Turner, Isa Woo PR, Glynnis Nakai, Jean E. Takekawa, John Y. Takekawa
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Restoration Ecology
Index ID 70173942
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center