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Exploring life history characteristics of naturalized versus stocked chinook

December 31, 2011

Naturalization of stocked populations can result in divergence of life-history traits from domestic stocks. Lake Michigan supports popular Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) Salmon fisheries that have been sustained by stocking since the late 1960s. Natural recruitment of Chinook Salmon in Lake Michigan has increased in the last few decades and currently contributes over 50% of Chinook Salmon recruits. Samples collected as part of a lakewide mass-marking of Lake Michigan Chinook Salmon, starting with the 2006 year class, indicated hatchery fish average 30-mm longer and 130 grams heavier than naturalized fish at age-1. We hypothesized that selective forces differ for naturalized and hatchery populations resulting in divergent life-history characteristics with implications for Chinook Salmon population production and the Lake Michigan fishery. Specific life-history metrics of interest include: age- and size- at maturity, spawning run timing, fecundity, and sex ratio. Objectives: We evaluated life history characteristics between naturally recruited and stocked Chinook Salmon in Lake Michigan to help discern potential changes resulting from naturalization and implications for fisheries. A. Conduct an analysis of historical data to determine if life-history parameters changed through time as the Chinook Salmon population became increasingly naturalized. B. Conduct a two-year field study of naturalized and hatchery stocked Chinook Salmon spawning populations to quantify differences in life-history metrics of adults. C. Determine if reproductive potential differs between naturalized and hatchery stocked Chinook salmon by measuring egg thiamine levels.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2011
Title Exploring life history characteristics of naturalized versus stocked chinook
Authors Mark W. Rogers, Janice A Kerns, David B. Bunnell, Randall M. Claramunt, Paris D. Collingsworth
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Index ID 70160731
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center

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