Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 5127
Title: Interspecific effects of artificially propagated fish: an additional conservation risk for salmon
Author: P. S. Levin, John G. Williams
Publication Year: 2002
Journal: Conservation Biology
Volume: 16
Issue: 6
Pages: 1581-1587

For more than 120 years, hatcheries have released enormous numbers of Pacific salmon to compensate for numerous human insults to their populations, yet the ecological effects of this massive effort are poorly understood.  We tested the hypothesis that hatchery–reared steelhead salmon (Oncorhynchus mykiss) released into the Snake River Basin negatively affect the survival of wild Snake River steelhead and Chinook (O. tshawytscha) salmon.  Because climatic conditions can influence salmon survival, we included an index of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) as a covariate in our analyses.  Based on time series of hatchery releases and rates of smolt–to–adult survival, we demonstrate that the survival of wild Chinook salmon is negatively associated with hatchery releases of steelhead.  The state of the ENSO did not affect the strength of this relationship.  We observed no relationship between survival of wild steelhead and steelhead hatchery releases.  Our results suggest that industrial–scale production of hatchery fish may hinder the recovery of some threatened salmonids and that the potential interspecific impact of hatcheries must be considered as agencies begin the process of hatchery reform.   

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