Columbia River plume fronts. II. Distribution, abundance, and feeding ecology of juvenile salmon Public Deposited

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  • Well-defined fronts develop at the seaward edge of riverine plumes where suspended materials and planktonic organisms are concentrated by convergent water flows. Riverine plume fronts have been hypothesized to be favorable fish habitats because they can lead to localized prey aggregations. We examined the spatial distribution of juvenile Pacific salmonids Oncorhynchus spp. in and around plankton-rich frontal regions of the Columbia River plume to test the hypothesis that juvenile salmonids aggregate at riverine plume fronts to feed. Juvenile salmonids tended to be abundant in the frontal and plume regions compared to the more marine shelf waters, but this pattern differed among species and was not consistent across the 2 study years. Stomach fullness tended to be higher in the more marine shelf waters than either the front or plume areas, which does not support the hypothesis that salmonids consistently ingest more prey at frontal regions. Many prey organisms were disproportionately abundant at these fronts, but salmon stomach-content analysis did not reveal higher stomach contents at fronts or identify prey groups indicative of feeding in the frontal areas. Although our results indicate that the Columbia River plume influences the distributions of juvenile salmon, our observations do not support the hypothesis that juvenile salmonids congregate to feed at fronts at the leading edge of the Columbia River plume. The short persistence time of these fronts may prevent juvenile salmon from exploiting these food-rich, but ephemeral, features.
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  • De Robertis, A., Morgan, C. A., Schabetsberger, R. A., Zabel, R. W., Brodeur, R. D., Emmett, R. L., & Knight, C. M. (2005, September 1). Columbia River plume fronts. II. Distribution, abundance, and feeding ecology of juvenile salmon. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 299, 33-44.
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