Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 8419
Title: The rapid return of marine-derived nutrients to a freshwater food web following a century of damming
Author: Christopher M. Tonra, Kimberley A. Sager-Fradkin, S. A. Morley, J. J. Duda, Peter P. Mara
Publication Year: 2015
Journal: Biological Conservation
Volume: 192
Pages: 130-134
Keywords: American dipper, Cinclus mexicanus. dam removal, salmon, marine-derived nutrients, Oncorhynchus spp,

Dam removal is increasingly being recognized as a viable river restoration action.  Although the main beneficiaries of restored connectivity are often migratory fish populations, little is known regarding recovery of other parts of the freshwater food web, particularly terrestrial components.  We measured stable isotopes in key components to the freshwater food web:  salmon, freshwater macroinvertebrates and a river specialist bird, American dipper (Cinclus mexicanus), before and after removal of the Elwha Dam, WA, USA.  Less than a year after dam removal, salmon returned to the system and released marine–derived nutrients (MDN).  In that same year, we documented an increase in stable–nitrogen and carbon isotope ratios in American dippers.  These results indicate that MDN from anadromous fish, an important nutrient subsidy that crosses the aquatic–terrestrial boundary, can return rapidly to food webs after dams are removed which is an important component of ecosystem recovery. 


Short communication reporting early response of the aquatic songbird  American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) to dam removal on the Elwha River

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Theme: Habitats to Support Sustainable Fisheries and Recovered Populations
Foci: Develop effective and efficient habitat restoration and conservation techniques.
Characterize relationships between habitat and ecosystem processes, climate variation, and the viability of organisms.