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  • Characterizing migration and survival for juvenile Snake River sockeye salmon between the upper Salmon River basin and Lower Granite Dam


Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) Fish Ecology FE - Ecosystem Analysis


Sockeye Migration and Survival
Characterizing migration and survival for juvenile Snake River sockeye salmon between the upper Salmon River basin and Lower Granite Dam
This project estimates survival and characterizes the migration of juvenile sockeye salmon between the upper Salmon River basin in central Idaho and Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River in Washington state using multiple technologies. The approach will use PIT tags and radio telemetry to determine the magnitude, where, and when mortality occurs and characterizes the migration for Snake River sockeye salmon. The outcome of this study will directly contribute to actions that will play a significant part in recovery of ESA-listed Snake River sockeye salmon by examining key uncertainties and filling data gaps.

Research Themes

Recovery and rebuilding of marine and coastal species
The Pacific Northwest is home to several iconic endangered species, including Pacific salmon and killer whales, and several rockfish species. Mandates such as the Endangered Species Act, MagnusonStevens Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, grant NOAA Fisheries the authority to manage the recovery of depleted species and stocks. The NWFSC contributes to species recovery through research, monitoring and analysis, providing NOAA managers and regional stakeholders the tools and information they need to craft effective regulations and develop sustainable plans for recovery.

Research Foci

Describe the relationships between human activities and species recovery, rebuilding and sustainability
Human activities play a major role in determining the status of species and stocks. Rebuilding and recovery therefore need to address how these activities affect their status. At the NWFSC, biophysical modeling is used to link specific human activities such as land use and pollution to habitat conditions, and then to link these conditions and other activities to particular life stages. These models can be used to quantitatively assess how human activities influence species abundance, productivity, distribution and diversity. Not surprisingly, altering human activities in some way is often necessary for species or stock recovery and rebuilding. It is therefore important to understand the socio-economic effects of alternative management structures. Gathering data on their economic costs and social impacts helps identify actions that are cost-effective. These actions will need to be resilient to potential changes in climate throughout the region. Research on how humans react to management strategies helps policy makers avoid those that lead to unintended consequences that can hinder rather than help recovery.
Develop methods to use physiological, biological and behavioral information to predict population-level processes
Understanding the biological processes occurring within organisms is a powerful way of understanding how environmental changes affect those organisms. Genetics, developmental, physiological and behavioral studies all provide important information for effective species recovery and rebuilding. Integrating this information into models is vital to predict how populations will respond to natural or human perturbations, and to assess the constraints to stock rebuilding efforts. For example, data on thermal tolerance and physiological responses to temperature can be used to explore changes caused by shifts in climate on reproductive behavior and productivity, viability, movement, habitat selection, and population dynamics. Similarly, data on contaminants that impact physiological processes (immune system, growth, development, reproduction, and general health) are critical in determining how these compounds affect population dynamics. Data on biological responses of organisms to ocean acidification are useful for understanding how acidification may affect individual development and survival. The NWFSC collects such information for several species that are of concern, targets of fisheries or otherwise important for overall ecosystem function. NWFSC scientists will continue to expand current efforts and develop methods to incorporate physiological, biological and behavioral data into population models in order to predict population-level processes from these individual level data.
Evaluate the effects of artificial propagation on recovery, rebuilding and sustainability of marine and anadromous species
Artificial propagation has the potential to provide benefits both to species recovery and to seafood sustainability. Artificial propagation also poses risks to wild species and ecosystems. In the past, the use of artificial propagation has been an important risk factor for several threatened and endangered species, particularly Pacific salmon. Assessing the effects of artificial propagation is complicated by the fact that programs vary widely in size, rearing practices, and goals. The NWFSC conducts critical research on the influence of artificial propagation on population dynamics, growth rate, ecology of infectious disease, and the evolutionary fitness of wild fish and other marine organisms. Results of this research are needed to support the recovery of fish populations and have been especially valuable in providing critical information for recent, larger scale habitat restoration activities such as the Elwha Dam removal. NWFSC will continue to conduct science that informs the discussion about whether to allow fish to recolonize naturally after barrier removal, or to supplement populations with hatchery fish and on the impacts of aquaculture on fishing pressure and practices, and on the surrounding environment and ecosystem.


PIT tag
Passive Integrated Transponder tags
Salmon River Basin, Idaho
River basin in Idaho
Snake River sockeye salmon
Snake River sockeye salmon
radio telemetry
radio telemetry
survival modeling
Survival CJS (Cormack-Jolly-Seber) modeling


None associated


Class Actinopterygii
ray-finned fishes
Family Salmonidae
Genus Oncorhynchus
Kingdom Animalia
Order Salmoniformes
Phylum Chordata
Species Oncorhynchus nerka
kokanee, red salmon, sockeye salmon


Beth Sanderson
Internal Collaborator
Brian Burke
Internal Collaborator
Bruce Jonasson
Project Group Lead
Gordon Axel
Principal Investigator
Jesse Lamb
Kinsey Frick
Internal Collaborator
Mark Kaminski
Matthew Nesbit
Samuel Rambo