A comparison of the survival and migratory behavior of hatchery-reared and naturally reared steelhead smolts in the Alsea River and estuary, Oregon, using acoustic telemetry Public Deposited

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  • We tracked three groups of steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss smolts implanted with acoustic transmitters to determine whether the degree of hatchery domestication or the juvenile rearing environment (hatchery raceway versus natural stream) influenced migration timing and survival in the Alsea River and estuary, Oregon. Two groups consisted of age-1 smolts reared in concrete raceways. One hatchery-reared group (traditional brood group) was derived from the traditional Alsea River broodstock initially developed in the 1950s. The second hatchery-reared group (new brood group) was derived from naturally reared Alsea River adult steelhead that were captured and spawned at the hatchery beginning in the winter of 2000-2001. The third group (naturally reared group) consisted of age-2 naturally reared smolts captured in a downstream migrant trap located in a tributary stream near the hatchery. We placed transmitters in 74 traditional brood smolts, 76 new brood smolts, and 72 naturally reared smolts. Thirty-one acoustic receivers were located throughout the Alsea River and estuary and in the ocean offshore of the river mouth to monitor smolt movement. We found no significant difference between groups in their survival to the head of tide or to the mouth of the estuary. Most smolts from all three groups were detected at the head of tide (87% of fish from the traditional brood group, 78% from the new brood group, and 84% from the naturally reared group). However, survival was poor in the lower estuary for all three groups; we estimated that only 37% of the traditional brood group, 45% of the new brood group, and 47% of the naturally reared group survived to the ocean. The timing of migration through the river was highly variable in all three groups, and we found no significant differences in the rate of downstream movement from the release site to the head of tide. Mean residence time within the estuary was similar for all groups, although smolts from the naturally reared group showed less variability in estuary residence time than hatchery-reared smolts.
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  • Johnson, S. L., Power, J. H., Wilson, D. R., & Ray, J. (2010, February). A comparison of the survival and migratory behavior of hatchery-reared and naturally reared steelhead smolts in the Alsea River and estuary, Oregon, using acoustic telemetry. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 30(1), 55-71.
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