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Radiotelemetry to estimate stream life of adult chum salmon in the McNeil River, Alaska

January 1, 2011

Estimating salmon escapement is one of the fundamental steps in managing salmon populations. The area-under-the-curve (AUC) method is commonly used to convert periodic aerial survey counts into annual salmon escapement indices. The AUC requires obtaining accurate estimates of stream life (SL) for target species. Traditional methods for estimating SL (e.g., mark–recapture) are not feasible for many populations. Our objective in this study was to determine the average SL of chum salmon Oncorhynchus keta in the McNeil River, Alaska, through radiotelemetry. During the 2005 and 2006 runs, 155 chum salmon were fitted with mortality-indicating radio tags as they entered the McNeil River and tracked until they died. A combination of remote data loggers, aerial surveys, and foot surveys were used to determine the location of fish and provide an estimate of time of death. Higher predation resulted in tagged fish below McNeil Falls having a significantly shorter SL (12.6 d) than those above (21.9 d). The streamwide average SL (13.8 d) for chum salmon at the McNeil River was lower than the regionwide value (17.5 d) previously used to generate AUC indices of chum salmon escapement for the McNeil River. We conclude that radiotelemetry is an effective tool for estimating SL in rivers not well suited to other methods.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2011
Title Radiotelemetry to estimate stream life of adult chum salmon in the McNeil River, Alaska
DOI 10.1080/02755947.2011.574080
Authors Joshua M. Peirce, Edward O. Otis, Mark S. Wipfli, Erich H. Follmann
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title North American Journal of Fisheries Management
Index ID 70193259
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown

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