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Juvenile salmon in estuaries: comparisons between North American Atlantic and Pacific salmon populations

Weitkamp, Laurie A., Goulette, Graham, Hawkes, James, O’Malley, Michael, Lipsky, Christine
Reviews in fish biology and fisheries 2014 v.24 no.3 pp. 713-736
Oncorhynchus, Salmo salar, anadromous fish, anthropogenic activities, basins, birds, estuaries, estuarine fish, fish communities, habitats, hatcheries, insects, invertebrates, marine mammals, predators, rivers, salmon, Columbia River
All anadromous fishes, including juvenile salmon, encounter estuarine habitats as they transition from riverine to marine environments. We compare the estuarine use between juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in the Penobscot River estuary and Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) in the Columbia River estuary. Both estuaries have been degraded by anthropogenic activities. Atlantic and Pacific salmon populations in both basins rely heavily on hatchery inputs for persistence. Pacific salmon, as a group, represent a continuum of estuarine use, from species that move through rapidly to those that make extensive use of estuarine habitats. While Atlantic salmon estuarine use is predominantly similar to rapidly moving Pacific salmon, they can exhibit nearly the entire range of Pacific salmon estuarine use. Both slow and rapidly migrating Atlantic and Pacific salmon actively feed in estuarine environments, consuming insect and invertebrate prey. Interactions between juvenile salmon and estuarine fish communities are poorly understood in both estuaries, although they experience similar avian and marine mammal predators. Estuaries are clearly important for Atlantic and Pacific salmon, yet our understanding of this use is currently insufficient to make informed judgments about habitat quality or overall estuary health. This review of salmonid migration through and residency within estuaries identifies actions that could hasten restoration of both Atlantic and Pacific salmon populations.