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Fall and winter microhabitat use and suitability for spring chinook salmon parr in a U.S. Pacific Northwest River

May 16, 2018

Habitat degradation has been implicated as a primary threat to Pacific salmon Oncorhynchus spp. Habitat restoration and conservation are key toward stemming population declines; however, winter microhabitat use and suitability knowledge are lacking for small juvenile salmonids. Our objective was to characterize microhabitat use and suitability for spring Chinook Salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha parr during fall and winter. Using radiotelemetry techniques during October–February (2009–2011), we identified fall and winter microhabitat use by spring Chinook Salmon parr in Catherine Creek, northeastern Oregon. Tagged fish occupied two distinct gradient reaches (moderate and low). Using a mixed‐effects logistic regression resource selection function (RSF) model, we found evidence that microhabitat use was similar between free‐flowing and surface ice conditions. However, habitat use shifted between seasons; most notably, there was greater use of silt substrate and areas farther from the bank during winter. Between gradients, microhabitat use differed with greater use of large wood (LW) and submerged aquatic vegetation in the low‐gradient reach. Using a Bayesian RSF approach, we developed gradient‐specific habitat suitability criteria. Throughout the study area, deep depths and slow currents were most suitable, with the exception of the low‐gradient reach where moderate depths were optimal. Near‐cover coarse and fine substrates were most suitable in the moderate‐ and low‐gradient reaches, respectively. Near‐bank LW was most suitable throughout the study area. Multivariate principal component analyses (PCA) indicated co‐occurring deep depths supporting slow currents near cover were intensively occupied in the moderate‐gradient reach. In the low‐gradient reach, PCA indicated co‐occurring moderate depths, slow currents, and near‐bank cover were most frequently occupied. Our study identified suitable and interrelated microhabitat combinations that can guide habitat restoration for fall migrant and overwintering Chinook Salmon parr in Catherine Creek and potentially the Pacific Northwest.

Publication Year 2018
Title Fall and winter microhabitat use and suitability for spring chinook salmon parr in a U.S. Pacific Northwest River
DOI 10.1002/tafs.10011
Authors Scott D. Favrot, Brian C. Jonasson, James Peterson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Index ID 70197088
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Seattle