Prespawn mortality in adult spring Chinook salmon outplanted above barrier dams


M.L. Keefer, Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-1136, USA; e-mail:


Keefer ML, Taylor GA, Garletts DF, Gauthier GA, Pierce TM, Caudill CC. Prespawn mortality in adult spring Chinook salmon outplanted above barrier dams.
Ecology of Freshwater Fish 2010: 19: 361–372. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S

Abstract –  Dams without fish passage facilities block access to much of the historic spawning habitat of spring Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in Oregon’s Willamette River basin. Adult salmon are routinely outplanted above the dams to supplement natural production, but many die before spawning despite extensive suitable habitat. In 2004–2007, we examined prespawn mortality patterns using live detection and carcass recovery data for 242 radio-tagged outplants. Total prespawn mortality was 48%, but variability was high, ranging from 0% to 93% for individual release groups. Prespawn mortality was strongly condition dependent, consistently higher for females than males and higher for early release groups. Across years, warm water temperature in the migration corridor and at the collection site was associated with sharply higher mortality. Results highlight a need for better evaluations of the effects of adult mortality on population reintroduction and recovery and relationships among prespawn mortality, dam-related temperature change and salmon life history and behaviour.