Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 1844
Title: The influence of population dynamics and environmental conditions on pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) recolonization after barrier removal in the Fraser River, British Columbia, Canada
Author: G. R. Pess, R. Hilborn, K. Kloehn, T. P. Quinn
Publication Year: 2012
Journal: Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Volume: 69
Issue: 5
Pages: 970-982
Keywords: salmon,colonization,restoration,Fraser River

When barriers are removed, what biotic and abiotic factors determine how fish populations will colonize newly available habitats? We used counts of adult pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) from 1947 to 1987 in 66 streams of the Fraser River system, British Columbia, Canada to determine when colonizing pink salmon populations became self-sustaining after a long-term migration blockage at Hell’s Gate (Rkm 209) was reduced. The abundance of salmon in available habitats were largely controlled by extrinsic factors such as an initially large source population, high intrinsic growth rates linked to favorable climate-driven conditions, a constant supply of dispersers, and large amounts of newly available habitat. Temporal variation in flows at Hell’s Gate also affected re-colonization success. Self-sustaining populations were developed within years of barrier removal and have continued to help expand the overall population of Fraser River pink salmon. However, pink salmon were considerably more abundant in the early 1900s than in the 1980s (~48million v. ~2.7million), and the majority of spawning shifted from the historic areas above Hell’s Gate prior to the slide to below Hell’s Gate in the lower Fraser River after the long-term blockage was reduced, so the system has not returned to the former abundance and distribution patterns.

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Notes: doi: 10.1139/F2012-030
Theme: Habitats to Support Sustainable Fisheries and Recovered Populations
Foci: Develop effective and efficient habitat restoration and conservation techniques.
Characterize habitat effects on ecosystem processes, ecological interactions and the health of organisms.