The influence of fall-spawning salmon on growth and production of juvenile coho salmon rearing in beaver ponds on the Copper River Delta, Alaska Public Deposited

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  • This thesis examined the influence of fall-spawning coho salmon on the density, growth rate, body condition, and survival to outmigration of juvenile coho salmon rearing in beaver ponds on the Copper River Delta, Alaska. During the fall of 1999 and 2000 fish rearing in ponds that received spawning salmon were compared to ponds that did not receive spawners, and to ponds that were artificially enriched with salmon carcasses and eggs. Juvenile coho salmon responded variably to fall-spawning salmon. There were no consistent patterns associated with the two naturally occurring pond types (spawning vs no spawning). In some ponds, fall-spawning salmon increased growth rates and improved the body condition of juvenile coho salmon. Enrichment with salmon carcasses and eggs significantly increased growth rates of fish in non-spawning ponds. For some ponds, the relative influence of spawning and enrichment on body condition depended on fish size. There was no evidence that the influence of fall-spawning resulted in greater smolt production. Fall-spawning salmon provide important food resources that can benefit juvenile coho salmon rearing in beaver ponds on the Copper River Delta. However, other factors such as nutrients from riparian vegetation and catchment characteristics that control hydrology and thermal regimes are important to coho salmon smolt production.
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