Evidence linking delayed mortality of Snake River salmon to their earlier hydrosystem experience

Publication Date



delayed mortality, mortality, Snake River, salmon, steelhead, Columbia River, salmon recovery, estuary, ocean, downstream migration, migration, mechanisms, mark-recapture

Journal or Book Title

North American Journal of Fisheries Management


The numbers of Snake River salmon and steelhead (Oncorhynchus spp.) have substantially declined since the completion of the Columbia River hydrosystem. We used analytical approaches, to identify management options for halting the decline of these stocks, such as removal of Snake River darns and improvements to the existing hydrosystem. The benefits these actions are predicted to have in terms of salmon recovery hinge on whether the mortality that takes place in the estuary and early in their ocean residence is related to earlier hydrosystem experience during downstream migration. Evidence from the literature demonstrates numerous mechanisms that would explain this delayed mortality in relation to a fish's experience passing through the hydrosystem. Spatial and temporal comparisons of stock performance provide indirect evidence of delayed mortality and evidence that delayed mortality is linked to hydrosystem experience. Recent mark-recapture data also provide evidence of differences in delayed mortality by route of passage through the hydrosystem. The different types of evidence discussed here suggest that the delayed mortality of Snake River fish is related to the hydrosystem.





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