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Research, monitoring, and evaluation of emerging issues and measures to recover the Snake River fall Chinook salmon ESU, 1/1/2014 - 12/31/2014

March 24, 2015

The portion of the Snake River fall Chinook Salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha ESU that spawns upstream of Lower Granite Dam transitioned from low to high abundance during 1992–2014 in association with U.S. Endangered Species Act recovery efforts and other Federally mandated actions. This annual report focuses on (1) numeric and habitat use responses by natural- and hatchery-origin spawners, (2) phenotypic and numeric responses by natural-origin juveniles, and (3) predator responses in the Snake River upper and lower reaches as abundance of adult and juvenile fall Chinook Salmon increased. Spawners have located and used most of the available spawning habitat and that habitat is gradually approaching redd capacity. Timing of spawning and fry emergence has been relatively stable; whereas the timing of parr dispersal from riverine rearing habitat into Lower Granite Reservoir has become earlier as apparent abundance of juveniles has increased. Growth rate (g/d) and dispersal size of parr also declined as apparent abundance of juveniles increased. Passage timing of smolts from the two Snake River reaches has become earlier and downstream movement rate faster as estimated abundance of fall Chinook Salmon smolts in Lower Granite Reservoir has increased. In 2014, consumption of subyearlings by Smallmouth Bass was highest in the upper reach which had the highest abundance of Bass. With a few exceptions, predation tended to decrease seasonally from April through early July. A release of hatchery fish in mid-May significantly increased subyearling consumption by the following day. We estimated that over 600,000 subyearling fall Chinook Salmon were lost to Smallmouth Bass predation along the free-flowing Snake River in 2014. More information on predation is presented in Appendix A.3 (page 51). These findings coupled with stock-recruitment analyses presented in this report provide evidence for density-dependence in the Snake River reaches and in Lower Granite Reservoir that was influenced by the expansion of the recovery program. The long-term goal is to use the information covered here in a comprehensive modeling effort to conduct action effectiveness and uncertainty research and to inform fish population, hydrosystem, harvest, hatchery, and predation and invasive species management RM&E.

Publication Year 2015
Title Research, monitoring, and evaluation of emerging issues and measures to recover the Snake River fall Chinook salmon ESU, 1/1/2014 - 12/31/2014
Authors William P. Connor, Frank L. Mullins, Kenneth F. Tiffan, Russell W. Perry, John M. Erhardt, Scott J. St John, Brad K. Bickford, Tobyn N. Rhodes
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Index ID 70148107
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Fisheries Research Center