Over-wintering diet, growth, and prey available to juvenile coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) in the West Fork Smith River, Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/nc580r644

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  • Over-winter growth of juvenile salmonids may be linked to ocean survival and thus species persistence. Diet, growth, and prey available to juvenile coho, Oncorhynchus kisutch, were examined from December 2004 to April 2005 in four tributaries of the West Fork Smith River (WFSR), Oregon. Juvenile coho growth rate and condition were greatest in spring. Growth rate varied through winter and was highest in Crane Creek, a small intermittent stream (4.3km2 basin area) and lowest in Beaver Creek (7.5 km2), a perennial stream. Prey availability and growth rate decreased in January and February as temperatures dropped, however stomach fullness was highly variable and not correlated to growth rate. The stomach contents of 477 juvenile coho (age-0), were quantitatively examined using an index of relative importance. Juvenile coho fed primarily on benthic invertebrates; rarely consumed non-insectan food included coho fry, salmon eggs, aquatic snails (Juga silicula), salamanders (Dicamptodon tenebrosus), and terrestrial invertebrates. The major portions of their diets, in order of relative importance, were aquatic chironomid larvae (Diptera), baetid mayfly larvae (Ephemeroptera), limnephilid caddisfly larvae (Trichoptera), and winter stonefly larvae (primarily Capniid Stonefly). Similarities in Relatively Important prey distinguished the two intermittent streams from the two perennial streams. In the WFSR tributaries, juvenile coho appear to rely on a variety of food sources to sustain growth and condition during winter. Small intermittent headwater streams may be disproportionately more important to stream fish with greater availability of prey than larger perennial streams highlighting the need to conserve and restore these habitats.
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