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Keywords:

  • Oncorhynchus tshawytscha;
  • juveniles;
  • life history variation;
  • environmental influence

Throughout its native North Pacific, the chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (Walbaum), exists as twolife-history types that aredistinguished by the age at which juvenile salmon migrate to sea as smolts. ‘Stream-type’ chinook migrate seaward after I or more years of feeding in fresh water, whereas ‘ocean-type’ fish migrate to sea as newly emerged fry or after 2–3 months in fresh water. Stream-type chinook predominate in populations distant from the sea south of 56° N, and in both inland and coastal populations north of this point. By contrast, ocean-type chinook predominate in coastal populations south of 56° N, but are rare in populations in more northerly latitudes. Stream-type populations are associated with areas of low ‘growth opportunity’ (as measured by temperature and photoperiod regimes) and/or areas distant from the sea compared to ocean-type. Geographic variability in juvenile life history is suggested to result, in part, from environmental modulation of smolting timing via differences in growth opportunity among geo-graphic areas. In addition, differences in migration distance and temperature regime may result in selection for different sizes at migration among populations which, through differences in growth opportunity, might promote geographic variability in age at seaward migration.