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Assessment of juvenile coho salmon movement and behavior in relation to rehabilitation efforts in the Trinity River, California, using PIT tags and radiotelemetry

Chase, Robert, Hemphill, Nina, Beeman, John, Juhnke, Steve, Hannon, John, Jenkins, Amy M.
Environmental biology of fishes 2013 v.96 no.2-3 pp. 303-314
Oncorhynchus kisutch, coasts, estuaries, habitats, hatcheries, philopatry, radio telemetry, radio transmitters, rivers, surveys, threatened species, transponders, yearlings, California, Oregon
Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) of the Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast (SONCC) Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU) is federally listed as a threatened species. The Trinity River Restoration Program (TRRP) is rehabilitating the Trinity River to restore coho salmon (coho) and other salmonid populations. In order to evaluate the program’s actions, several studies of movements and behavior of coho in the Trinity River were conducted from 2006 to 2009, including snorkel surveys and mark-recapture techniques based on Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags, elastomer tags, and radio transmitters. Catch, recapture, and condition of natural sub-yearlings, along with site fidelity and emigration of hatchery-reared yearlings in rehabilitated and reference habitats, were studied. Location was important because coho were absent from the lower controlled and rehabilitated sites most of the time. However, rehabilitation did not have a significant effect on natural coho salmon at the site level. Apparent survival of radio-tagged, hatchery-reared yearling coho released downstream from Lewiston Dam was much lower in the first 10 km downstream from the release site than in other areas between Lewiston Dam and the Klamath River estuary. Estimated survival of yearling hatchery coho salmon per 100 km down to Blake’s Riffle was estimated at 64 % over the distance of the 239 km study area. Migration primarily occurred at night in the upper Trinity River; however, as yearlings moved through the lower Trinity River towards the Klamath River, estuary nocturnal migration became less. Apparent survival was generally lowest in areas upstream from the North Fork of the Trinity River.