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Presentation TitleYukon River Chinook salmon parental stress physiology and the effects on offspring survivorship
Presenting Author NamePetra Szekeres
Presenting Author AffiliationEnvironmental Dynamics Inc.
Presenting Author EmailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
Presenting Author Social Media Handles@albulibae
Presentation Number6
Unit MeetingAlaska Chapter
SymposiumWarm water and ecological drought impacts on Alaska freshwater habitats and fisheries
General TopicYukon bound Chinook salmon, parental stress physiology, offspring survivorship
Type of PresentationOral

Canadian Yukon River Chinook salmon populations undertake one of the longest fish migrations in the world, with the number of Chinook reaching spawning grounds trending downwards. Yet, the stress physiology of spawning Chinook salmon has yet to be studied on the Canadian side of the Yukon River.

One of the farthest spawning populations exists in Morley River near the community of Teslin, Yukon Territory, over 2,900 km (>1,800 mi) from the Bering Sea. Chinook have to successfully navigate numerous obstacles and threats, including fishing pressure and climate change. In such a changing environment, what are the physiological costs associated with this migration?

The Teslin Tlingit Council has been involved in the Deadman Creek Chinook Restoration and In stream Egg Incubation Project since 2015. This project aims to re-establish a spawning Chinook population in Deadman Creek and study egg survival in Morley River, where broodstock for the project are collected. However, there are relationships between parental stress and offspring survivorship which have yet to be addressed in the context of this work.

The rationale for exploring parental stress and offspring survivorship includes the acknowledgement of Chinook salmon stress in a changing and variable environment. In recent years – particularly 2019 – water levels were low with high water temperatures during migration and in spawning habitats. As a result, spawning was not induced in some migrating Chinook salmon, leading to pre-spawn mortalities. In these instances, the spawning success of the individual is null – but there are still many spawners experiencing the same conditions that do successfully spawn. However, little to no research has occurred on spawning Canadian Yukon River Chinook with respect to their stress physiology and how this affects offspring survivorship. The overall objective of this study is to document stress physiology metrics in Yukon River Chinook and relate parental stress to offspring survivorship.