Differential use of salmon by vertebrate consumers: implications for conservation Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/articles/79407z88d

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  • Salmon and other anadromous fish are consumed by vertebrates with distinct life history strategies to capitalize on this ephemeral pulse of resource availability. Depending on the timing of salmon arrival, this resource may be in surplus to the needs of vertebrate consumers if, for instance, their populations are limited by food availability during other times of year. However, the life history of some consumers enables more efficient exploitation of these ephemeral resources. Bears can deposit fat and then hibernate to avoid winter food scarcity, and highly mobile consumers such as eagles, gulls, and other birds can migrate to access asynchronous pulses of salmon availability. We used camera traps on pink, chum, and sockeye salmon spawning grounds with various run times and stream morphologies, and on individual salmon carcasses, to discern potentially different use patterns among consumers. Wildlife use of salmon was highly heterogeneous. Ravens were the only avian consumer that fed heavily on pink salmon in small streams. Eagles and gulls did not feed on early pink salmon runs in streams, and only moderately at early sockeye runs, but were the dominant consumers at late chum salmon runs, particularly on expansive river flats. Brown bears used all salmon resources far more than other terrestrial vertebrates. Notably, black bears were not observed on salmon spawning grounds despite being the most frequently observed vertebrate on roads and trails. From a conservation and management perspective, all salmon species and stream morphologies are used extensively by bears, but salmon spawning late in the year are disproportionately important to eagles and other highly mobile species that are seasonally limited by winter food availability.
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  • Levi, T., Wheat, R. E., Allen, J. M., & Wilmers, C. C. (2015). Differential use of salmon by vertebrate consumers: implications for conservation. PeerJ, 3, e1157. doi:10.7717/peerj.1157
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