The Ecology of Juvenile Salmon in the Northeast Pacific Ocean: Regional Comparisons

Regional Variation in the Marine Growth and Energy Accumulation of Juvenile Chinook Salmon and Coho Salmon along the West Coast of North America

Marc Trudel, Mary E. Thiess, Cynthia Bucher, Edward V. Farley, Jr., R. Bruce MacFarlane, Edmundo Casillas, Joseph Fisher, John F. T. Morris, James M. Murphy, and David W. Welch

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569957.ch8

Abstract.—Size-selective mortality combined with longer winters at high-latitudes is expected to exert strong directional selection on size, growth, and energy use and storage capacity in northern fish populations. Here, we tested the hypotheses that juvenile Pacific salmon Oncorhynchus spp. grow faster, reach larger size, and accumulate higher energy reserves in the marine environment at northern latitudes using juvenile Chinook salmon O. tshawystcha and coho salmon O. kisutch collected on the continental shelf from the California coast to the Bering Sea. Size reached at the end of the growing season, the quantity of energy stored prior to the onset of winter, and summer growth of juvenile Chinook and coho salmon during their first year at sea varied significantly among regions of the continental shelf. Latitudinal trends were detected for the fall size of subyearling and yearling Chinook salmon and storage energy in yearling Chinook salmon. However, they were opposite to expectations, with values decreasing from southern to northern areas. Latitudinal trends were also apparent for summer growth in juvenile yearling Chinook salmon. However, in contrast to fall size and storage energy, higher growth rates were generally observed in northern rather than in southern regions. Similarly, summer growth generally decreased from northern to southern regions in juvenile coho salmon. Storage energy did not exhibit a consistent trend with latitude in juvenile subyearling Chinook salmon and coho salmon. The different response of juvenile Chinook salmon and coho salmon to a latitudinal cline in temperature and the length of the growing season suggest that both species utilize the marine environment differently. We suggest that regional variations in juvenile salmon growth and energy accumulation may result from differences in prey quality (i.e., lipids), diet, and interspecific competition for prey resources.