Growth and survival of sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) from Karluk Lake and River, Alaska, in relation to climatic and oceanic regimes and indices, 1922-2000


Martinson, Ellen C., John H. Helle, Dennis L. Scarnecchia, and Houston H. Stokes
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We examined whether the relationship between climate and salmon production was linked through the effect of climate on the growth of sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) at sea. Smolt length and juvenile, immature, and maturing growth rates were estimated from increments on scales of adult sockeye salmon that returned to the Karluk River and Lake system on Kodiak Island, Alaska, over 77 years, 1924–2000. Survival was higher during the warm climate regimes and lower during the cool regime. Growth was not correlated with survival, as estimated from the residuals of the Ricker stock-recruitment model. Juvenile growth was correlated with an atmospheric forcing index and immature growth was correlated with the amount of coastal precipitation, but the magnitude of winter and spring coastal downwelling in the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest atmospheric patterns that influence the directional bifurcation of the Pacific Current were not related to the growth of Karluk sockeye salmon. However, indices of sea surface temperature, coastal precipitation, and atmospheric circulation in the eastern North Pacific were correlated with the survival of Karluk sockeye salmon. Winter and spring precipitation and atmospheric circulation are possible processes linking survival to climate variation in Karluk sockeye salmon.