Early marine growth in relation to marine-stage survival rates for Alaska sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)


Farley, Edward V. Jr, James M. Murphy, Milo D. Adkison, Lisa B. Eisner, John H. Helle, Jamal H. Moss, and Jennifer Nielsen
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We tested the hypothesis that larger juvenile sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in Bristol Bay, Alaska, have higher marine-stage survival rates than smaller juvenile salmon. We used scales from returning adults (33 years of data) and trawl samples of juveniles (n=3572) collected along the eastern Bering Sea shelf during August through September 2000−02. The size of juvenile sockeye salmon mirrored indices of their marine-stage survival rate (e.g., smaller fish had lower indices of marine-stage survival rate). However, there was no relationship between the size of sockeye salmon after their first year at sea, as estimated from archived scales, and brood-year survival size was relatively uniform over the time series, possibly indicating size-selective mortality on smaller individuals during their marine residence. Variation in size, relative abundance, and marine-stage survival rate of juvenile sockeye salmon is likely related to ocean conditions affecting their early marine migratory pathways along the eastern Bering Sea shelf.