Trophically transmitted parasites as ecosystem indicators : relationships among parasite community structure, juvenile salmon diet composition, and ocean conditions Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/kd17cx05b

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  • Recent research conducted throughout the Northern California Current (NCC) on the ecology of Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) indicates that variable ocean conditions affect the community composition of zooplankton in the nearshore environment which, in turn, can affect the quality of prey for fish, sea birds and mammals. Interannual variability in the quality and composition of the copepod community in the NCC during early marine residency of some Pacific salmon populations is related to survival to adulthood. However, copepods make up a small portion of the diet of coho and Chinook salmon, and the mechanistic linkages between ocean climate, zooplankton composition and salmon prey remain unclear. Parasite analysis provides a supplement to traditional diet analysis that can describe the foraging history of a host species. Coho salmon (O. kisutch) and Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) serve as hosts to an array of marine parasites acquired through consumption of infected intermediate hosts such as copepods, euphausiids, and planktivorous fishes. Causing little or no harm to their salmon host, the presence of trophically transmitted parasites provides information on the dietary history of their salmonid host beyond the 24 hours associated with traditional diet analysis. This study (1) examined differences in feeding behavior of coho and Chinook salmon during their early marine residency using both stomach and parasite community analyses and (2) tested the hypothesis that variability in ocean circulation patterns (measured through the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, sea surface temperature (SST) and Bakun's upwelling index) and copepod species composition are related to variability in the community structure of trophically transmitted marine parasites found in juvenile salmon. I compared the abundance and species composition of parasites recovered from juvenile Columbia River coho and upper Columbia River summer and fall Chinook salmon captured off the coast of Washington from 2002 to 2009. I also compared interannual variability in parasite assemblages to physical and biological indices of ocean conditions. Coho and Chinook salmon consumed similar prey taxa; however, the species richness and abundance of trophically transmitted parasites indicated that Chinook salmon consumed a greater diversity and abundance of infected prey. In addition, differences in the abundance of fish in the diet and Anisakis simplex, a parasitic nematode known to infect salmon through fish consumption, suggest that Chinook salmon consistently consumed more fish prey than coho. In contrast, coho appeared to consume more euphausiids as indicated by stomach content analysis and increased abundance of the euphausiid parasite, Rhadinorhynchus trachuri. Shifts in the parasite community composition of both coho and Chinook salmon were related to interannual variability in SST and the biomass of southern-origin copepods (r > 0.7, P < 0.05). The acanthocephalan R. trachuri and a tetraphyllid cestode were associated with "warm" SSTs and greater biomass of lipid-poor, subtropical copepods while the nematode A. simplex was more abundant in years of "cold" SST and a relatively low biomass of subtropical copepods. These results provide novel insight into differences in the diet of Columbia River coho and Chinook salmon and illustrate linkages between ocean climate, zooplankton community composition and salmon diet during early marine residency.
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