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Post‐release predation mortality of age‐0 hatchery‐reared Chinook salmon from non‐native smallmouth bass in the Snake River

Erhardt, John M., Tiffan, Kenneth F.
Fisheries management and ecology 2018 v.25 no.6 pp. 474-487
Micropterus dolomieu, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, hatcheries, juveniles, mortality, predation, rivers, salmon, Snake River
Release of age‐0 hatchery‐reared fall Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (Walbaum), in the Snake River resulted in up to 30‐fold increases in salmon consumption by non‐native smallmouth bass, Micropterus dolomieu Lacepѐde. In an upper river reach, smallmouth bass fed intensively during a release in May, but Chinook salmon consumption returned to pre‐release levels within 1–2 days as hatchery‐reared fish quickly emigrated downstream. The predation response during a June release located farther downstream was dissimilar. Chinook salmon consumption increased to a lesser extent (11‐fold), lasted several days (~4) and no changes in feeding intensity were evident. Estimated numbers of age‐0 hatchery‐reared Chinook salmon lost to short‐term predation varied by year and study reach and ranged from 12,007 (6.03% of those released) to 210,580 (14.6% of those released) fish. Short‐term, intense feeding by smallmouth bass can contribute significantly to mortality of hatchery‐reared fish and should be considered when supplementing populations with hatchery juveniles.