Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 8336
Title: Warming ocean conditions relate to increased trophic requirements of threatened and endangered salmon
Author: Elizabeth A. Daly, Richard D. Brodeur
Publication Year: 2015
Journal: PLoS ONE
Volume: 10
Issue: 12
Pages: e0144066
Keywords: California Current, climate change, Chinook salmon, marine zooplankton, metabolism, feeding, energetics, time series,

The trophic habits, size and condition of yearling Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) caught early in their marine residence were examined during 19 survey years (1981-1985; 1998-2011).  Juvenile salmon consumed distinct highly piscivorous diets in cold and warm ocean regimes with major differences between ocean regimes driven by changes in consumption of juvenile rockfishes, followed by several other fish prey, adult euphausiids and decapod larvae.  Notably, Chinook salmon consumed 30% more food in the warm vs. cold ocean regime in both May and June.  Additionally, there were about 30% fewer empty stomachs in the warm ocean regime in May, and 10% fewer in warm June periods.  The total prey energy density consumed during the warmer ocean regime was also significantly higher than in cold.  Chinook salmon had lower condition factor and were smaller in fork length during the warm-ocean regime and were longer and heavier for their size during the cold-ocean regime.  The significant increase in foraging during the warm ocean regime occurred concurrently with lower available prey biomass.  Adult return rates of juvenile Chinook salmon that entered the ocean during a warm ocean regime were lower.  Notably, our long-term data set contradicts the long-held assertion that juvenile salmon eat less in a warm-ocean regime, when low growth and survival is observed, and when available prey are reduced.  Comparing diet changes between decades under variable ocean conditions may assist us in understanding the effects of projected warming ocean regimes on juvenile Chinook salmon and their survival in the ocean environment.  Bioenergetically, the salmon appear to require more food resources during warm ocean regimes.

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Theme: Ecosystem approach to improve management of marine resources
Foci: Understand how climate influences ecosystem variability.
Provide scientific support for the implementation of ecosystem-based management