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Assessment of smolt condition for travel time analysis. Annual report 1989

January 1, 1990

The Water Budget is a volume of water used to enhance environmental conditions (flows) in the Columbia and Snake rivers for juvenile salmonids during their seaward migration. To manage the Water Budget, the Fish Passage Center estimates travel times of juvenile salmonids in index reaches of the main-stem rivers, using information on river flows and the migrational characteristics of the juvenile salmonids. This study was initiated to provide physiological information on the juvenile salmonids used for these travel time estimates. The physiological ability to respond to stressors was evaluated by measuring concentrations of plasma cortisol, glucose, and chlorides before and after a 30-s handling-stress challenge test. As in 1988, most groups responded satisfactorily to the challenge. The scope for response was compromised among two groups of juvenile chinook salmon that were trucked to release sites and in steelhead from one hatchery after unusual marking and transportation protocols were used. The development of smoltification was assessed by measuring gill Na+-K+ ATPase activity and plasma thyroxine concentrations. Mean ATPase activities of marked hatchery groups of juvenile chinook salmon and steelhead changed little during the month before release and rose sharply for about the first 20 d of the migration after release. Mean plasma thyroxine was highest during the first 20 d after release. Mean gill ATPase activity of spring chinook salmon from the migration-at-large peaked at about the 90th percentile of passage at Rock Island and Lower Granite dams, and at about the 50th percentile of passage at McNary Dam. Mean gill ATPase activity of wild steelhead was higher than gill ATPase activity of hatchery steelhead at Rock Island Dam, the Snake River Trap, and Lower Granite Dam, but not at McNary Dam. This was attributed to a time-dependent relationship between increases in ATPase activity and the number of days fish migrated before recapture. Correlations of gill ATPase activity and/or plasma thyroxine concentrations with condition factor, morphology, or skin guanine concentration may be useful as non-lethal indicators of smoltification for inclusion in a smoltification index. Prevalence of bacterial kidney disease in spring chinook salmon was generally higher than in 1988, ranging from 81-100% using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) method. Fish from Snake River hatcheries had more severe infections than those from mid-Columbia hatcheries. The percentage of fish with severe infections was lower at two downstream dams than at the Snake River hatcheries of origin, suggesting a bias in dam collection facilities or that these fish ceased to migrate, either of which could lead to biases in travel time estimates.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1990
Title Assessment of smolt condition for travel time analysis. Annual report 1989
Authors J.W. Beeman, D.W. Rondorf, J.C. Faler, M.E. Free, P.V. Haner
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Series Title
Series Number
Index ID 70180761
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Fisheries Research Center