Dataset Information


Large river habitat complexity and productivity of Puget Sound Chinook salmon.

ABSTRACT: While numerous studies have shown that floodplain habitat complexity can be important to fish ecology, few quantify how watershed-scale complexity influences productivity. This scale mismatch complicates population conservation and recovery strategies that evaluate recovery at regional or multi-basin scales. We used outputs from a habitat status and trends monitoring program for ten of Puget Sound's large river systems to examine whether juvenile Chinook salmon productivity relates to watershed-scale habitat complexity. We derived habitat complexity metrics that quantified wood jam densities, side and braid to main channel ratios, and node densities from a remote sensing census of Puget Sound's large river systems. Principal component analysis revealed that 91% of variance in these metrics could be explained by two principal components. These metrics revealed gradients in habitat complexity across Puget Sound which were sensitive to changes in complexity as a result of restoration actions in one watershed. Mixed effects models revealed that the second principle component term (PC2) describing habitat complexity was positively related to log transformed subyearling Chinook per spawner productivity rates from 6-18 cohorts per watershed. Total subyearling productivity (subyearlings per spawner) and fry productivity (subyearling fry per spawner) rates were best described by models that included a positive effect of habitat complexity (PC2) and negative relationships with log transformed peak flow recurrence interval, suggestive of reduced survival due to egg destruction during floods. Total subyearling productivity (subyearlings per spawner) and parr productivity (subyearling parr per spawner) rates were best described by models that included a positive effect of habitat complexity (PC2) and negative relationships with log transformed spawner density, suggestive of density dependent limits on juvenile rearing habitat. We also found that coefficient of variation for log transformed subyearling productivity and subyearling fry productivity rates declined with increasing habitat complexity, supporting the idea that habitat complexity buffers populations from annual variation in environmental conditions. Therefore, we conclude that our watershed-scale census-based approach provided habitat complexity metrics that explained some of the variability in productivity of subyearling juveniles among Chinook salmon populations. Furthermore, this approach may provide a useful means to track and evaluate aggregate effects of habitat changes on the productivity of Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed Chinook salmon populations over time.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC6211665 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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