Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Puget Sound steelhead smolt survival

Reduced marine survival over the past 20 to 30 years appears to be a major limiting factor for Puget Sound steelhead trout. Three related indicators (reduced adult abundance, reduced smolt-to-adult survival, and telemetry-based early marine survival estimates) together suggest that smolts suffer high early marine mortality that limits the productivity of steelhead populations. Recent estimates from Hood Canal indicate that the majority of smolts do not survive the migration to the Pacific Ocean. Current analyses are underway to determine whether smolt survival from Puget Sound Rivers is similar to Hood Canal. New studies are being designed to determine the locations of mortality ‘hotspots’ and to understand the mechanisms limiting smolt survival throughout Puget Sound.

This study has two primary objectives: 1) improve survival and reduce fitness loss in Columbia River steelhead smolts by minimizing unnatural selection on body size and other smolt characteristics, and 2) identify behavioral and physiological traits under selection through laboratory-scale research.


Megan Moore, Barry Berejikian, Rob Endicott, Jose Reyes-Tomassini

Recent Publications

Moore, M.E., B.A. Berejikian, E.P. Tezak. In review. Behavioral changes and increased mortality risk for steelhead smolts migrating past a fjord-spanning floating bridge. Ecological Applications.

Moore, M., B. A. Berejikian, and E. P. Tezak. 2012. Variation in the early marine survival and behavior of natural and hatchery-reared Hood Canal steelhead. Plos One 7(11).

Moore, M.E., Goetz, F.A., Van Doornik, D.M., Tezak, E.P., Quinn, T.P., Reyes-Tomassini, J.J., and Berejikian, B.A. 2010b. Early marine migration patterns of wild coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki clarki), steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and their hybrids. PLoS One 5(9).

Moore, M.E., Berejikian, B.A., and Tezak, E.P. 2010a. Early marine survival and behavior of steelhead smolts through Hood Canal and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 139(1): 49-61.