Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation of Avian Predation on Salmonid Smolts in the Lower and Mid-Columbia River, 2006 Final Season Summary.

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Description

This study investigates predation by piscivorous waterbirds on juvenile salmonids (Oncorhynchus spp.) from throughout the Columbia River Basin. During 2006, study objectives in the Columbia River estuary, work funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, were to (1) monitor and evaluate previous management initiatives to reduce Caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia) predation on juvenile salmonids (smolts); (2) measure the impact of double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) predation on smolt survival, and assess potential management options to reduce cormorant predation; and (3) monitor large colonies of other piscivorous waterbirds in the estuary (i.e., glaucous-winged/western gulls [Larus glaucescens/occidentalis]) to determine the potential impacts on smolt ... continued below

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153 pages

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Roby, Daniel D.; Collis, Ken & Lyons, Donald E. June 18, 2009.

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  • Roby, Daniel D. USGS - Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Oregon State University
  • Collis, Ken Real Time Research, Inc.
  • Lyons, Donald E. USGS - Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Oregon State University

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Description

This study investigates predation by piscivorous waterbirds on juvenile salmonids (Oncorhynchus spp.) from throughout the Columbia River Basin. During 2006, study objectives in the Columbia River estuary, work funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, were to (1) monitor and evaluate previous management initiatives to reduce Caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia) predation on juvenile salmonids (smolts); (2) measure the impact of double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) predation on smolt survival, and assess potential management options to reduce cormorant predation; and (3) monitor large colonies of other piscivorous waterbirds in the estuary (i.e., glaucous-winged/western gulls [Larus glaucescens/occidentalis]) to determine the potential impacts on smolt survival. Study objectives on the mid-Columbia River, work funded by the Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, were to (1) measure the impact of predation by Caspian terns and double-crested cormorants on smolt survival; and (2) monitor large nesting colonies of other piscivorous waterbirds (i.e., California gulls [L. californicus], ring-billed gulls [L. delawarensis], American white pelicans [Pelecanus erythrorhynchos]) on the mid-Columbia River to determine the potential for significant impacts on smolt survival. Our efforts to evaluate system-wide losses of juvenile salmonids to avian predation indicated that Caspian terns and double-crested cormorants were responsible for the vast majority of smolt losses to avian predators in the Columbia Basin, with most losses occurring in the Columbia River estuary. In 2006, East Sand Island in the Columbia River estuary supported the largest known breeding colonies of Caspian terns and double-crested cormorants in the world. The Caspian tern colony on East Sand Island consisted of about 9,200 breeding pairs in 2006, up slightly (but not significantly so) from the estimate of colony size in 2005 (8,820 pairs). There has not been a statistically significant change in the size of the Caspian tern colony on East Sand Island since 2000. Tern nesting success averaged 0.72 fledglings per breeding pair in 2006, significantly higher than in 2005 (0.37 fledglings per breeding pair), a year of poor ocean conditions. Despite the presumably higher availability of marine forage fishes in 2006, the proportion of juvenile salmonids in diets of Caspian terns (32% of prey items) averaged higher than in 2005 (23% of prey items) and 2004 (18% of prey items). Steelhead smolts were particular vulnerable to predation by East Sand Island terns in 2006, with predation rates as high as 20% on particular groups of PIT-tagged fish reaching the estuary. Consumption of juvenile salmonids by terns nesting at the East Sand Island colony in 2006 was approximately 5.3 million smolts (95% c.i. = 4.4-6.2 million), significantly higher than the estimated 3.6 million smolts consumed in 2005, but still roughly 7 million fewer smolts consumed compared to 1998 (when all terns nested on Rice Island in the upper estuary). Caspian terns nesting on East Sand Island continue to rely primarily on marine forage fishes as a food supply, even in 2005 when availability of marine forage fishes declined due to poor ocean conditions. Further management of Caspian terns to reduce losses of juvenile salmonids would be implemented under the Caspian Tern Management Plan for the Columbia River Estuary; the Records of Decision (RODs) authorizing implementation of the plan were signed in November 2006. The ROD lists as the management goal the redistribution of approximately half of the East Sand Island Caspian tern colony to alternative colony sites in interior Oregon and San Francisco Bay, California (USFWS 2006). Implementation of the management plan is stalled, however, because of the lack of appropriated funds.

Physical Description

153 pages

Source

  • Related Information: "This 2006 Final Season Summary has been prepared for the Bonneville Power Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the purpose of assessing project accomplishments. This report is not for citation without permission of the authors." "Submitted: February 2007 Revised: March 2007"

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  • Report No.: P112125
  • Grant Number: 22182
  • DOI: 10.2172/962487 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 962487
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc928227

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Creation Date

  • June 18, 2009

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Dec. 1, 2016, 4:28 p.m.

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Roby, Daniel D.; Collis, Ken & Lyons, Donald E. Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation of Avian Predation on Salmonid Smolts in the Lower and Mid-Columbia River, 2006 Final Season Summary., report, June 18, 2009; Portland, Oregon. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc928227/: accessed July 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.