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Physiological condition and migratory experience affect fitness‐related outcomes in adult female sockeye salmon

Minke‐Martin, Vanessa, Hinch, Scott G., Braun, Douglas C., Burnett, Nicholas J., Casselman, Matthew T., Eliason, Erika J., Middleton, Collin T.
Ecology of freshwater fish 2018 v.27 no.1 pp. 296-309
Oncorhynchus nerka, adults, blood glucose, dams (hydrology), eggs, females, fish, habitat preferences, lakes, longevity, migratory behavior, physiological state, probability, radio transmitters, reproduction, rivers, spawning, temperature
Relating fish physiology, behaviour and experience to fitness‐related outcomes at the individual scale is ecologically significant, but presents difficulties for free‐ranging fishes in natural systems. Physiological state (e.g. level of stress or maturity) and experience (e.g. habitat use or exposure to stressors) may alter the probability of survival or reproduction. This study examined the relative influence of physiology and migratory experience on survival, migration duration, reproductive longevity, and egg retention in adult female sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) from a Fraser River population. One hundred and thirty‐five females were plasma sampled and tagged with radio transmitters and archival temperature loggers. Fish were tracked 55 km through two natal lakes to spawning grounds, following passage of a hydroelectric dam. For 39 females, we assessed the proportion of time within an optimal temperature (Tₒₚₜ AS) window (13.4–19.5°C), which provides ≥90% of maximum aerobic scope. Females with lower plasma glucose concentrations were more likely to reach spawning grounds. Early migrants spent longer in natal lakes. More time in the Tₒₚₜ AS window was associated with greater reproductive longevity and lower probability of egg retention. Later arriving females had reduced longevity on spawning grounds, as did females that retained eggs. Exposure to higher dam discharge was associated with reduced reproductive longevity and greater probability of egg retention, but not lower survival, indicating a delayed effect of dam passage. Our results underscore the complexity of factors governing fitness‐related outcomes for salmonids, particularly the importance of female experience in the days and weeks prior to spawning.