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Marine Ecosystem Response To Climate Change and Management for Salmon Recovery

Western Regional Action Plan (WRAP) Salmon Marine Survival Project

Salmon marine survival is extremely sensitive to climate indices. However, we think a large portion of this response is due to the interactions between salmon and other species. We know much less about the species interactions in the marine stage than other life stages. But because that is the stage where we expect the largest declines will likely occur due to climate change, it is a significant research gap. There may be management actions we could take that would improve the prospects for these threatened species. 

We are improving our understanding of the marine stage by using multiple models to explore which species interactions are most sensitive to climate indices. We will then explore various potential conservation actions that could help Pacific salmon and other species, such as southern resident killer whales, which depend on them. 

We start with a qualitative conceptual model because of many unknowns regarding the complex species interactions that influence salmon marine survival. We then test specific relationships within that qualitative model using statistical analyses. We use these functional relationships to refine equations and parameter values in an intermediate complexity, end-to-end foodweb model, EcoTran. Finally, we conduct scenario explorations under climate change forcing and perturbations to simulate potential management actions.

  • We represent salmon in multiple functional groups, including protected populations (e.g., Snake River spring/summer Chinook) and populations targeted by fisheries (e.g., Upper Columbia summer/fall and Snake River fall Chinook). Therefore, the model will inform both conservation and sustainable fisheries goals.
  • This project will develop a tool for evaluating the cumulative effects of management actions and climate drivers in both freshwater and marine environments. We will incorporate the results from the marine multi-species models into single-species life cycle models for various Columbia River salmon populations. We will develop a decision support tool to evaluate many more management actions across the entire life cycle than previously possible.
  • We can use the ecosystem model for fishery management questions for many other stocks (e.g., hake, sardine, herring). We will better incorporate the improvements to the parameters for protected species into standard management strategy evaluations. This will lead to better integration of conservation goals and climate change considerations across the entire ecosystem within fisheries management more generally.

This effort is part of the Western Regional Action Plan (WRAP) to implement the National Climate Science Strategy. Our goal is to provide scientific support for management that takes a comprehensive approach to climate change.

More Information

Pacific Salmon Climate Impact Research in the Pacific Northwest

For more information, contact Dr. Lisa Crozier.

Last updated by on June 30, 2021