Influence of river conditions on survival and travel time of Snake River subyearling fall chinook salmon

Publication Date



active, biological, chinook, Chinook salmon, DAM, dams, DISCHARGE, environmental variables, factors, Fish, Flow, Hatcheries, hatchery, Lower Granite Dam, Lower Snake River, migrating, migration, Oncorhynchus, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, rearing, recovery, RELEASE, release date, river, salmon, seaward migration, smolt, smolts, Snake River, speed, summer, survival, tailrace, temperature, TIME, travel time, upstream, Water, Water temperature, Water transparency

Journal or Book Title

North American Journal of Fisheries Management


From 1995 to 2000, subyearling fall chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha reared at Lyons Ferry Hatchery were PIT-tagged at the hatchery, trucked upstream, acclimated, and released into free-flowing sections of the Snake River weekly from early June to mid-July. We estimated survival probabilities and travel time through the lower Snake River and detection probabilities at dams for each weekly release group. The average median time between release and arrival at Lower Granite Dam was 43.5 d. For each group, we split this time into two nearly equal (on average) periods: one when most fish in the group were rearing and one when most fish had apparently begun active seaward migration. The estimated survival for hatchery fish from release to the tailrace of Lower Granite Dam decreased with release date each year. The estimated survival through this reach was significantly correlated with three environmental variables: survival decreased as discharge ("flow") decreased, as water transparency increased, and as water temperature increased. Because the environmental variables were highly correlated among themselves, we were unable to determine whether any factors were more important than the others. All three factors have plausible biological consequences for rearing and actively migrating fish, and survival is probably influenced by all of them and possibly by interactions among them as well. Summer flow augmentation will increase discharge and decrease water temperature (provided the additional water is not too warm) and probably increase the speed of seaward migration of smolts, all of which are beneficial to the recovery of threatened Snake River fall chinook salmon.







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