• capacity;
  • fish-habitat model;
  • hierarchical model;
  • life history;
  • maximum sustainable yield;
  • population dynamics

Abstract  Escapement goals for Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (Walbaum), populations tend to be highly uncertain due to variability in, and in some cases complete absence of, spawner-recruit data. A previous study of 25 populations from Oregon to Alaska demonstrated that watershed size is a good predictor of unfished equilibrium population size. Here this relationship is further developed by evaluating a series of Bayesian hierarchical models of increasing complexity. The model that performed best included a temporal random walk to account for patterns in the spawner-recruit residuals and life history-specific distributions for the productivity parameter.