Incorporation of salmon derived nutrients into Oregon coastal streams and the role of physical habitat Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/76537345r

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  • Stream restoration techniques in western Oregon and Washington include physical habitat restoration and more recently the addition of salmon carcasses to improve food availability for juvenile fish. Although both are common practices, few studies have examined the effects of carcass placement and the interaction of nutrient enrichment with physical habitat restoration in western Oregon. The purpose of this research is to explore how restoration with salmon nutrient inputs and large woody debris affect juvenile coho growth and salmon derived nutrient incorporation. We studied growth and condition of juvenile coho salmon in three streams with four experimental treatment reaches per stream 1) reference, 2) wood placement, 3) wood placement + salmon carcass addition, and 4) salmon carcass addition Growth rates of PIT tagged fish were greater in reaches that received salmon carcasses but with no large woody debris during this low flow year. Restoration with large woody debris increased the condition of juvenile coho prior to carcass additions, but results varied among streams. Salmon derived nutrient incorporation was determined by measuring δ¹⁵N and δ¹³C of juvenile coho salmon and aquatic macroinvertebrates. Results did not show strong evidence of salmon derived nutrient incorporation at any level of the food web. We also used the methods of Bilby et al. (2001), to measure δ¹⁵N and δ¹³C values of juvenile coho salmon in sixteen Oregon coastal streams with a range of salmon spawner densities and large woody debris volume (m³ m⁻²). Results indicated that incorporation of salmon derived nutrients increase as natural spawned salmon densities increased. Additionally we saw greater incorporation of salmon derived nutrients from natural spawners than from placed carcasses indicating a difference in their effects on ecosystem function. Our results highlight the need to understand natural stream variability before designing carcass placement projects and emphasize the need for continued research and monitoring of stream restoration projects in order to contribute towards assessing the efficiency of these projects.
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