Physiological Condition Differentially Affects the Behavior and Survival of Two Populations of Sockeye Salmon during Their Freshwater Spawning Migration
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Recently, a segment of the Adams-Shuswap sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) population initiated freshwater migration several weeks earlier than historically recorded, resulting in high mortality rates. The comigrating Chilko population maintained their historic river entry timing and did not experience elevated mortality. To test the hypothesis that population-specific differences in physiological condition would differentially influence behavior and survival when exposed to fisheries capture stress, we physiologically sampled individuals from both populations at the onset of the freshwater phase of their reproductive migration and tracked the remainder of their migrations using radio telemetry. Adams-Shuswap individuals had slower migration rates and were less likely to reach natal subwatersheds relative to Chilko individuals. Metabolic and osmoregulatory impairment was related to mortality for Adams-Shuswap individuals but not for Chilko individuals. Similarly, physiological condition correlated with migration rate for Adams-Shuswap but not Chilko fish. Survival to natal subwatersheds was 1.9 times higher for Chilko relative to Adams-Shuswap, a result that did not emerge until individuals approached natal subwatersheds several days after the stressor was applied. We conclude that physiological condition differentially affects the behavior and survival of these two populations, which may be a consequence of the early-entry phenomenon by a segment of the Adams-Shuswap population.
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