Baker River (Washington, USA) sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) are a recovering Puget Sound stock that are aided by trap-and-haul and hatchery programs to mitigate for the presence of a high head dam. The relative contribution of hatchery and natural adults to overall production of smolts and recruits is unknown. The ability to identify three different sockeye production groups (natural production, artificial incubation, and artificial spawning beach) within the Baker system is crucial to moving forward with management goals. The examination of otoliths was proposed as a technical tool for improved understanding and management of Baker sockeye rebuilding efforts. Otoliths were chosen as they provide a chronological record on an individual fish basis and have been shown to identify fish origin through both otolith microstructure and chemistry.
The goal of this pilot project was to determine the feasibility of assigning sockeye to their production source based on otolith analysis. A variety of methods were employed and compared for accuracy of group assignment. The maximum overall accuracy capable of attainment was 88.57 percent, however complete confidence (100 percent) in the separation of natural production from artificial production was reached through the analysis of trace elements alone. Some segregation of the two artificial production groups was reached through analysis of a few specific trace elements (magnesium, manganese, and zinc). This confidence in assignment for the artificial production groups was aided by a two-step process of combining trace elements with microstructure. The Sr isotope ratios supported the trace element findings but did not help to boost the overall level of confidence in the separation of production groups. Based upon the results from this preliminary investigation, one could choose a statistically sound, efficient, and cost-effective use of otoliths as a tool for discriminating between the sockeye production groups of the Baker Lake system.
|Title||Investigation of otolith microstructure and composition for identification of rearing strategies and associated Baker Lake sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) smolt production, Washington, 2016–17|
|Authors||Kimberly A. Larsen, Lisa A. Wetzel, Karl D. Stenberg, Angie M. Lind-Null|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Open-File Report|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Western Fisheries Research Center|