Adult Chinook and Coho Salmon migrate to a variety of marine regions around the North Pacific. Along these migration routes, the contaminants they encounter and consume will vary. These returning salmon are consumed by humans and Southern Resident Killer Whales, and the health risk they pose will be dependent on their migration routes and diets. Otolith microchemistry provides a record of where salmon have been throughout their lives.
Pacific salmon spend most of their life in the open ocean, where we know little about the factors influencing their health and abundance. Last year, we participated in the first expedition to explore the winter habitat of salmon the Gulf of Alaska. We collect samples to inform ongoing research projects focusing on salmon health and their feeding habits, collected environmental DNA samples that allow us to detect the presence of different species in the environment, and were able to pinpoint coho salmon to their river of origin using a mobile genetic stock identification method.
The goal of the project is to mitigate the impacts to valuable salmonids from invasive smallmouth bass (SMB) in Cultus Lake through suppression and monitoring. The project will benefit both the sport fishing industry and endangered species, by suppressing predation from SMB and controlling further imbalances in predator-prey relationships. We will use methods such as nest destruction, gut content analysis, and acoustic telemetry to learn about the fish’s ecology and the most effective way to suppress the population.
Chinook Salmon are a species of high ecological, economic and cultural value in BC. Recent declines in Chinook Salmon abundance have highlighted a need to understand factors controlling their productivity. One hypothesis suggests that the first winter in the ocean plays a critical role in controlling Chinook Salmon survival, and in turn, abundance. Little research has been conducted during the winter, limiting our understanding of this potentially critical period.
Multiple species of wild Pacific salmon in British Columbia have faced declines over the past three decades and the role of disease in these declines is poorly understood. High-throughput molecular methods have led to the development of a novel, multi-year dataset that has unprecedented breadth across pathogen taxa and unusually large coverage over space and time. We will use these data for Coho salmon to determine: 1) where infection “hotspots” occur along the British Columbia Coast for each pathogen, 2) whether any spatial factors (e.g.
The decline in many populations of wild Pacific salmon is of great concern given their critical importance to First Nations, the ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest, and wild and farmed fisheries. The conservation efforts of the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) have provided opportunity for research into infectious diseases like Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI) and jaundice/anemia that may contribute to these declines. Piscine orthoreovirus (PRV) causes HSMI in Norwegian Atlantic salmon.
We have developed a model that simulates currents, nutrient distributions, and plankton growth in the Salish Sea. This project focuses on continued development of that model and its application to answering scientific questions. These questions include: 1) How much does the timing and amount of plankton growth vary from year to year, and what factors explain increases or decreases? 2) What is the impact of the timing and amount of plankton growth in the Salish Sea on food availability for salmon populations, particularly along migration routes?
Pacific salmon are important from ecological, economic, social and cultural perspectives, but many species in the Salish Sea have seen drastic decrease in marine survival rate in recent decades, likely linked to reduced survival of the young stages of salmon due to a combination of environmental, food web changes, and human impacts. This activity will provide an ecosystem-level analysis of how the environmental productivity of the Salish Sea has changed in recent decades with focus on the implications this has had for salmon populations in the area.
Predation on smolts as they out-migrate down natal rivers may significantly contribute to the decline and lack of recovery of Chinook salmon in British Columbia. A prior study of mortality of Chinook smolts released by the Cowichan Hatchery suggests only a small portion of the fish reached the ocean due to predation by raccoons, river otters, mergansers and trout.
B.C.s Pacific salmon are in decline yet the causes are not clear. The role of disease in declining productivity is poorly understood but is potentially an important factor especially given recent controversies involving salmon farms and disease transmission to wild salmon. We have recently collected quantitative data on 47+ viral, bacterial, fungal, and protozoan pathogens in >16,000 out-migrating juvenile sockeye, Chinook and coho salmon and 4,500 salmon from farms culturing Atlantic and Chinook salmon.