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Juvenile Chinook Salmon mortality in a Snake River Reservoir: Smallmouth Bass predation revisited

April 1, 2018

Predation by nonnative fishes has been identified as a contributing factor in the decline of juvenile salmonids in the Columbia River basin. We examined the diet composition of Smallmouth Bass Micropterus dolomieu and estimated the consumption and predation loss of juvenile Chinook Salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha in Lower Granite Reservoir on the Snake River. We examined 4,852 Smallmouth Bass stomachs collected from shoreline habitats during April–September 2013–2015. Chinook Salmon were the second most commonly consumed fish by all size‐classes of Smallmouth Bass (≥150 mm TL) throughout the study. Over the 3 years studied, we estimated that a total of 300,373 Chinook Salmon were consumed by Smallmouth Bass in our 22‐km study area, of which 97% (291,884) were subyearlings (age 0) based on length frequency data. A majority of the loss (61%) occurred during June, which coincided with the timing of hatchery releases of subyearling fall Chinook Salmon. Compared to an earlier study, mean annual predation loss increased more than 15‐fold from 2,670 Chinook Salmon during 1996–1997 to 41,145 Chinook Salmon during 2013–2015 (in reaches that could be compared), despite lower contemporary Smallmouth Bass abundances. This increase can be explained in part by increases in Smallmouth Bass consumption rates, which paralleled increases in subyearling Chinook Salmon densities—an expected functional response by an opportunistic consumer. Smallmouth Bass are currently significant predators of subyearling Chinook Salmon in Lower Granite Reservoir and could potentially be a large source of unexplained mortality.

Publication Year 2018
Title Juvenile Chinook Salmon mortality in a Snake River Reservoir: Smallmouth Bass predation revisited
DOI 10.1002/tafs.10026
Authors John M. Erhardt, Kenneth F. Tiffan, William P. Connor
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Index ID 70196379
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Fisheries Research Center