Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation of Avian Predation on Salmonid Smolts in the Lower and Mid-Columbia River, 2008 Draft Season Summary.

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This report describes investigations into predation by piscivorous colonial waterbirds on juvenile salmonids (Oncorhynchus spp.) from throughout the Columbia River basin during 2008. East Sand Island in the Columbia River estuary again supported the largest known breeding colony of Caspian terns (Hydroprogne caspia) in the world (approximately 10,700 breeding pairs) and the largest breeding colony of double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) in western North America (approximately 10,950 breeding pairs). The Caspian tern colony increased from 2007, but not significantly so, while the double-crested cormorant colony experienced a significant decline (20%) from 2007. Average cormorant nesting success in 2008, however, was down ... continued below

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158 pages

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Roby, Daniel D.; Collis, Ken & Lyons, Donald E. July 8, 2009.

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  • Roby, Daniel D. USGS - Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, 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 report describes investigations into predation by piscivorous colonial waterbirds on juvenile salmonids (Oncorhynchus spp.) from throughout the Columbia River basin during 2008. East Sand Island in the Columbia River estuary again supported the largest known breeding colony of Caspian terns (Hydroprogne caspia) in the world (approximately 10,700 breeding pairs) and the largest breeding colony of double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) in western North America (approximately 10,950 breeding pairs). The Caspian tern colony increased from 2007, but not significantly so, while the double-crested cormorant colony experienced a significant decline (20%) from 2007. Average cormorant nesting success in 2008, however, was down only slightly from 2007, suggesting that food supply during the 2008 nesting season was not the principal cause of the decline in cormorant colony size. Total consumption of juvenile salmonids by East Sand Island Caspian terns in 2008 was approximately 6.7 million smolts (95% c.i. = 5.8-7.5 million). Caspian terns nesting on East Sand Island continued to rely primarily on marine forage fishes as a food supply. Based on smolt PIT tag recoveries on the East Sand Island Caspian tern colony, predation rates were highest on steelhead in 2008; minimum predation rates on steelhead smolts detected passing Bonneville Dam averaged 8.3% for wild smolts and 10.7% for hatchery-raised smolts. In 2007, total smolt consumption by East Sand Island double-crested cormorants was about 9.2 million juvenile salmonids (95% c.i. = 4.4-14.0 million), similar to or greater than that of East Sand Island Caspian terns during that year (5.5 million juvenile salmonids; 95% c.i. = 4.8-6.2 million). The numbers of smolt PIT tags recovered on the cormorant colony in 2008 were roughly proportional to the relative availability of PIT-tagged salmonids released in the Basin, suggesting that cormorant predation on salmonid smolts in the estuary was less selective than tern predation. Cormorant predation rates in excess of 30%, however, were observed for some groups of hatchery-reared fall Chinook salmon released downstream of Bonneville Dam. Implementation of the federal plan 'Caspian Tern Management to Reduce Predation of Juvenile Salmonids in the Columbia River Estuary' was initiated in 2008 with construction by the Corps of Engineers of two alternative colony sites for Caspian terns in interior Oregon: a 1-acre island on Crump Lake in the Warner Valley and a 1-acre island on Fern Ridge Reservoir near Eugene. We deployed Caspian tern social attraction (decoys and sound systems) on these two islands and monitored for Caspian tern nesting. Caspian terns quickly colonized the Crump Lake tern island; about 430 pairs nested there, including 5 terns that had been banded at the East Sand Island colony in the Columbia River estuary, over 500 km to the northwest. No Caspian terns nested at the Fern Ridge tern island in 2008, but up to 9 Caspian terns were recorded roosting on the island after the nesting season. There were two breeding colonies of Caspian terns on the mid-Columbia River in 2008: (1) about 388 pairs nested at the historical colony on Crescent Island in the McNary Pool and (2) about 100 pairs nested at a relatively new colony site on Rock Island in the John Day Pool. Nesting success at the Crescent Island tern colony was only 0.28 young fledged per breeding pair, the lowest nesting success recorded at that colony since monitoring began in 2000, while only three fledglings were raised at the Rock Island tern colony. The diet of Crescent Island Caspian terns consisted of 68% salmonid smolts; total smolt consumption was estimated at 330,000. Since 2004, total smolt consumption by Crescent Island terns has declined by 34%, due mostly to a decline in colony size, while steelhead consumption has increased 10% during this same period. In 2008, approximately 64,000 steelhead smolts were consumed by Caspian terns nesting at Crescent Island. Based on smolt PIT tag recoveries on the Crescent Island Caspian tern colony, the average predation rate on in-river migrants from the Snake River (all species and run types combined based on interrogations at Lower Monumental Dam) was at least 1.4%. Predation rates on PIT-tagged steelhead smolts were greater than those for other salmonid species; 6.0% of wild steelhead smolts from the Snake River were consumed by Crescent Island terns. The double-crested cormorant colony on Foundation Island in the mid-Columbia River consisted of at least 360 pairs nesting in trees in 2008. The proportion of juvenile salmonids in stomach samples collected from cormorants nesting on Foundation Island during the peak of the smolt out-migration was about 45% of prey biomass.

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158 pages

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  • Related Information: Submitted: April 2009

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  • Report No.: P112392
  • Grant Number: 36864
  • DOI: 10.2172/963302 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 963302
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc928831

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  • July 8, 2009

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Dec. 1, 2016, 4:29 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, 2008 Draft Season Summary., report, July 8, 2009; Portland, Oregon. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc928831/: accessed May 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.