Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 4908
Title: Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) ocean migration patterns: insight from marine coded-wire tag recoveries
Author: Laurie A. Weitkamp, Kathleen Guinevere Neely
Publication Year: 2002
Journal: Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Volume: 59
Issue: 7
Pages: 1100-1115

We investigated geographic variation in the ocean migration of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) by examining recovery locations of 1.77 million coded-wire tagged fish from 90 hatcheries and 36 wild populations along the west coast of North America.  Principal component, cluster, and similarity analyses were used to reveal both large- and small-scale variation in marine recovery patterns.  We identified 12 distinct ocean distribution patterns, each associated with a particular geographic region.  Despite these distinct patterns, however, fish from a given population were widely dispersed in the coastal ocean.  Recovery patterns for tagged wild populations were consistent with those of hatchery populations from the same region, suggesting that marine distributions based on hatchery populations are reasonable proxies for distributions of wild populations.  These region-specific distribution patterns suggest unappreciated life history diversity for coho salmon in the marine environment.  When combined with region-specific adult size variation, they suggest migratory differences earlier in the ocean residence period as well.  These results provide a novel framework with which to view geographic variation in salmon ocean ecology, conservation, and management.

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