Historic Habitat Opportunities and Food-Web Linkages of Juvenile Salmon in the Columbia River Estuary, Annual Report of Research.

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In 2002 with support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), an interagency research team began investigating salmon life histories and habitat use in the lower Columbia River estuary to fill significant data gaps about the estuary's potential role in salmon decline and recovery . The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) provided additional funding in 2004 to reconstruct historical changes in estuarine habitat opportunities and food web linkages of Columbia River salmon (Onchorhynchus spp.). Together these studies constitute the estuary's first comprehensive investigation of shallow-water habitats, including selected emergent, forested, and scrub-shrub wetlands. Among other findings, this research documented the ... continued below

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19 pages

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Bottom, Daniel L.; Simenstad, Charles A. & Campbell, Lance May 15, 2009.

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In 2002 with support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), an interagency research team began investigating salmon life histories and habitat use in the lower Columbia River estuary to fill significant data gaps about the estuary's potential role in salmon decline and recovery . The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) provided additional funding in 2004 to reconstruct historical changes in estuarine habitat opportunities and food web linkages of Columbia River salmon (Onchorhynchus spp.). Together these studies constitute the estuary's first comprehensive investigation of shallow-water habitats, including selected emergent, forested, and scrub-shrub wetlands. Among other findings, this research documented the importance of wetlands as nursery areas for juvenile salmon; quantified historical changes in the amounts and distributions of diverse habitat types in the lower estuary; documented estuarine residence times, ranging from weeks to months for many juvenile Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha); and provided new evidence that contemporary salmonid food webs are supported disproportionately by wetland-derived prey resources. The results of these lower-estuary investigations also raised many new questions about habitat functions, historical habitat distributions, and salmon life histories in other areas of the Columbia River estuary that have not been adequately investigated. For example, quantitative estimates of historical habitat changes are available only for the lower 75 km of the estuary, although tidal influence extends 217 km upriver to Bonneville Dam. Because the otolith techniques used to reconstruct salmon life histories rely on detection of a chemical signature (strontium) for salt water, the estuarine residency information we have collected to date applies only to the lower 30 or 35 km of the estuary, where fish first encounter ocean water. We lack information about salmon habitat use, life histories, and growth within the long tidal-fresh reaches of the main-stem river and many tidally-influenced estuary tributaries. Finally, our surveys to date characterize wetland habitats within island complexes distributed in the main channel of the lower estuary. Yet some of the most significant wetland losses have occurred along the estuary's periphery, including shoreline areas and tributary junctions. These habitats may or may not function similarly as the island complexes that we have surveyed to date. In 2007 we initiated a second phase of the BPA estuary study (Phase II) to address specific uncertainties about salmon in tidal-fresh and tributary habitats of the Columbia River estuary. This report summarizes 2007 and 2008 Phase II results and addresses three principal research questions: (1) What was the historic distribution of estuarine and floodplain habitats from Astoria to Bonneville Dam? (2) Do individual patterns of estuarine residency and growth of juvenile Chinook salmon vary among wetland habitat types along the estuarine tidal gradient? (3) Are salmon rearing opportunities and life histories in the restoring wetland landscape of lower Grays River similar to those documented for island complexes of the main-stem estuary? Phase II extended our analysis of historical habitat distribution in the estuary above Rkm 75 to near Bonneville Dam. For this analysis we digitized the original nineteenth-century topographic (T-sheets) and hydrographic (H-sheets) survey maps for the entire estuary. Although all T-sheets (Rkm 0 to Rkm 206) were converted to GIS in 2005 with support for the USACE estuary project, final reconstruction of historical habitats throughout the estuary requires completion of the remaining H-sheet GIS maps above Rkm 75 and their integration with the T-sheets. This report summarizes progress to date on compiling the upper estuary H-sheets above Rkm 75. For the USACE estuary project, we analyzed otoliths from Chinook salmon collected near the estuary mouth in 2003-05 to estimate variability in estuary residence times among juvenile out migrants. In Phase II we expanded these analyses to compare growth and residency among individuals collected in tidal-fresh water wetlands of the lower main-stem estuary. Although no known otolith structural or chemical indicators currently exist to define entry into tidal fresh environments, our previous analyses indicate that otolith barium concentrations frequently increase before individuals encounter salt water. Here we evaluate whether otolith barium levels may provide a valid indicator of tidal fresh water entry by Columbia River Chinook salmon. We also examine otolith growth increments to quantify and compare recent (i.e., the previous 30 d) growth rates among individuals sampled in different wetland habitats along the estuarine tidal gradient.

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19 pages

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  • Related Information: document dated March 2009

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  • Report No.: P111767
  • Grant Number: 37031
  • DOI: 10.2172/962420 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 962420
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc928592

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  • May 15, 2009

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Nov. 29, 2016, 12:48 p.m.

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Bottom, Daniel L.; Simenstad, Charles A. & Campbell, Lance. Historic Habitat Opportunities and Food-Web Linkages of Juvenile Salmon in the Columbia River Estuary, Annual Report of Research., report, May 15, 2009; Portland, Oregon. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc928592/: accessed May 28, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.