Environmental Biology of Fishes

Opportunistic use of estuarine habitat by juvenile bull trout, Salvelinus confluentus , from the Elwha River before, during, and after dam removal

Estuaries are used by anadromous fishes, either as the definitive marine habitat or as transition habitat as they move to fully marine waters, and extent of estuary use may vary with habitat conditions and fish attributes. Bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) are commonly fluvial or adfluvial, though anadromous populations also exist. However, little is known about estuary use, especially by juveniles of this threatened species. We sampled the estuaries of the Elwha River, where a spawning population exists, and the nearby Salt Creek, where none exists, to reveal seasonal timing of estuarine use by juvenile bull trout, size of those using the estuary, and possible use of the non-natal estuary. We captured juvenile bull trout (all ≥100 mm FL, most <300 mm) in the Elwha River estuary in all months except August, but primarily December through May. None was captured in Salt Creek’s estuary despite comparable sampling effort. We also evaluated how dam removal on the Elwha River influenced bull trout estuarine occupancy by sampling before, during, and after dam removal, because this process enlarged the estuary but also increased turbidity and sediment transport in the lower river. Catches were low before dam removal, increased during and immediately after removal, and returned to low levels in recent years, suggesting that juveniles temporarily sought refuge from conditions associated with dam removal. Our findings indicate juvenile bull trout occupy estuarine habitat opportunistically; this information may aid conservation efforts as anadromous populations occur elsewhere in rivers with estuaries altered by human development.

Glossaire technique

De venir ensemble, ou de se joindre pour en former un, tel que les...
Qui vit principalement dans la partie inférieure d'une rivière ou estuaire...
Localité, c.-à-d., environnement dans lequel un organisme vit . lieu où...
Se réfère à la mer, depuis la haute mer jusqu'au niveau de la marée haute...
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