ESR 16:249-260 (2012)  -  doi:10.3354/esr00401

Spawning site selection in interior Fraser River coho salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch: an imperiled population of anadromous salmon from a snow-dominated watershed

Crystal J. McRae1,2,*, Kyla D. Warren1,3, J. Mark Shrimpton1

1Ecosystem Science and Management (Biology) Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia V2N 4Z9, Canada
2Present Address: Committee for General Education, National Dong Hwa University, Shoufeng, Hualien, 97401 Taiwan
3Present address: Rescan Environmental Services Ltd., Smithers, British Columbia V0J 2N0, Canada

ABSTRACT: Understanding habitat requirements for spawning is important for species at risk of extirpation to define areas for protection of this critical life stage. Interior Fraser coho salmon (IFC) Oncorhynchus kisutch spawn in tributaries of the upper Fraser River, British Columbia, Canada. They are regionally isolated, genetically distinct, and have been listed as endangered. Recent enumeration efforts have shown declining escapement and range contraction. IFC spawn in snow-dominated watersheds, yet much of our understanding of spawner habitat requirements is based on information for coho from coastal rain-dominated systems. Consequently, we examined the relative influence of habitat features on spawning site selection. Our sampling focused on why fish chose particular locations and not others in what seemed to be suitable habitat. We defined several logistic regression models, including various combinations of physical, chemical and hydrological microhabitat features, and used an information-theoretic approach to evaluate the relative plausibility of these models. Models combining intragravel measures of electrical conductance, dissolved oxygen, temperature and specific discharge were the best models associated with spawning microhabitat selection, and jackknife validations showed that these models had good predictive abilities. Intragravel variables, therefore, appear to play a prominent role in spawning site selection for IFC. Understanding the influence of the intragravel environment on spawning site selection will help identify habitat requirements as well as potential threats to fish populations and will contribute to the development of comprehensive conservation initiatives.


KEY WORDS: Interior Fraser coho · Spawning · Site selection · Intragravel habitat


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Cite this article as: McRae CJ, Warren KD, Shrimpton JM (2012) Spawning site selection in interior Fraser River coho salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch: an imperiled population of anadromous salmon from a snow-dominated watershed. Endang Species Res 16:249-260

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