Survival estimates for migrant yearling chinook salmon and steelhead tagged with passive integrated transponders in the lower Snake and lower Columbia rivers, 1993-1998

Publication Date



bypass, chinook, Chinook salmon, Columbia River, DAM, dams, DISTANCE, efficiency, Fish, Flow, Hatcheries, hatchery, hydroelectric, HYDROELECTRIC DAM, hydroelectric dams, Hydropower, Lower Granite Dam, migrate, model, mortalities, mortality, NUMBER, Oncorhynchus, passage, passive integrated transponder, PIT, PIT tag, RELEASE, reservoir, reservoirs, river, Rivers, salmon, salmonid, salmonids, SINGLE, smolt, Snake River, species, steelhead, stock, Stocks, STRATEGIES, strategy, survival, survival estimates, SYSTEM, tag, tags, tailrace, transponder

Journal or Book Title

North American Journal of Fisheries Management


Precise, up-to-date survival estimates for salmonids that migrate through reservoirs, hydroelectric dams, and free-flowing sections of the Snake and Columbia rivers are essential to develop effective strategies for recovering depressed stocks. To provide this information, survival was estimated for yearling chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha and steelhead O. mykiss with passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags that migrated through Snake River dams and reservoirs from 1993 through 1998. A multiple-recapture model for single release groups was used to estimate survival from detections of PIT-tagged fish at dams. The stretch of river over which survival was estimated varied between years, depending on the release site, the number of dams with the capability to detect and rerelease PIT-tagged fish back to the river, the total number of fish marked, and the efficiency of detecting PIT-tagged fish at each dam. Precision of survival estimates varied with the number of fish PIT-tagged and released and the amount of spill at dams with PIT-tag detectors. When spill levels were high, detection probabilities were lower, as was precision. Mortality at bypass outfall sites was not significant at any Snake River dam investigated. Estimated annual average per-project (combined reservoir and dam passage) survival ranged from 86% to 94% for yearling chinook salmon and from 88% to 92% for steelhead. Survival estimates were higher for both species in years when spill was used specifically to pass fish through nonturbine routes. Over the same stretches of river in years with similar flow conditions from 1970 through 1975, per-project survival estimates typically averaged 57-71% for yearling chinook salmon and 77-90% for steelhead. From 1993 to 1998, survival estimates for fish released from Snake River basin hatcheries to the Lower Granite Dam tailrace indicated that substantial smolt mortality occurred before fish entered the hydropower system. For each hatchery, estimated survival varied each year, and estimates from different hatcheries to Lower Granite Dam varied inversely with the distance fish traveled.







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