We investigated interactions of introduced juvenile spring Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha with wild juvenile steelhead O. mykiss in the upper Wind River watershed (rkm 24.6 to rkm 43.8), Washington. Our objective was to determine if the presence of introduced spring Chinook salmon influenced populations of wild juvenile steelhead and if other biotic or abiotic factors influenced distribution and populations of these species. We snorkeled to assess distribution and abundance in one to six stream reaches per year during 2001 through 2007. Juvenile steelhead were found in each sampled reach each year, but juvenile Chinook salmon were not. The upstream extent of distribution of juvenile Chinook salmon varied from rkm 29.7 to 42.5. Our analyses suggest that juvenile Chinook salmon distribution was much influenced by flow during the spawning season. Low flow appeared to limit access of escaped adult Chinook salmon to upper stream reaches. Abundance of juvenile Chinook salmon was also influenced by base flow during the previous year, with base flow occurring post spawn in late August or early September. There were no relationships between juvenile Chinook salmon abundance and number of Chinook salmon spawners, magnitude of winter flow that might scour redds, or abundance of juvenile steelhead. Abundance of age-0 steelhead was influenced primarily by the number of steelhead spawners the previous year, and abundance of age-1 steelhead was influenced primarily by abundance of age-0 steelhead the previous year. Juvenile steelhead abundance did not show a relationship with base or peak flows, nor with number of escaped Chinook salmon adults during the previous year. We did not detect a negative influence of the relatively low abundance of progeny of escaped Chinook salmon on juvenile steelhead abundance. This low abundance of juvenile Chinook salmon was persistent throughout our study and is likely a result of hatchery management and habitat conditions. Should one or both change in the future, the potential for negative interactions with wild steelhead could change.
- USGS Source: Publications Warehouse (indexId: 70043684)