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Thermal biology and bioenergetics of different upriver migration strategies in a stock of summer-run Chinook salmon

Hasler, Caleb T., Cooke, Steven J., Hinch, Scott G., Guimond, Esther, Donaldson, Michael R., Mossop, Brent, Patterson, David A.
Journal of thermal biology 2012 v.37 no.4 pp. 265-272
Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, adults, biotelemetry, body temperature, energy, energy density, energy metabolism, fish, habitats, lakes, models, river water, rivers, spawning, thermoregulation, water power, water temperature, British Columbia
By combining biotelemetry with animal-borne thermal loggers, we re-created the thermal histories of 21 summer-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) migrating in the Puntledge River, a hydropower impacted river system on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Daily maximum water temperatures in the Puntledge River during the summer-run adult Chinook salmon migration and residency period frequently exceeded 21°C, a value that has been observed to elicit behavioral thermoregulation in other Chinook salmon populations. We therefore compared river temperatures to body temperatures of 16 fish that migrated through the river to understand if cool-water refuge was available and being used by migrants. In addition, we used thermal histories from fish and thermal loggers distributed in the river to model the effect of thermal habitat on energy density using a bioenergetics model. In general, we found no evidence that cool-water refuge existed in the river, suggesting that there is no opportunity for fish to behaviorally thermoregulate during upriver migration through the regulated portion of the river. Of the thermal histories used in the bioenergetics model, fish that reached an upstream lake were able to access cooler, deeper waters, which would have reduced energy consumption compared to fish that only spent time in the warmer river. Consequently, the Puntledge River water temperatures are likely approaching and in some cases exceeding the thermal limits of the summer-run Chinook salmon during the spawning migration. Further warming may cause more declines in the stock.