Pacific salmon have complex life cycles that begin with adults spawning in natal streams, rivers, or lakes. The age and seasonal timing of salmon life-cycle transitions are determined by their genetic makeup and influenced by conditions in nature or in the regional hatcheries that produce salmon.
- Juvenile salmon stay in freshwater from a few months to several years. They then undergo smoltification, a physiological change that allows them to live in the ocean.
- Salmon smolts migrate to sea and grow there until they become adults and initiate reproductive maturation.
- Adults migrate from the ocean back to their natal, freshwater habitat where they spawn.
- The rate at which salmon grow affects how fast they complete their life cycle, ranging from 1 to 4 years.
- Salmon develop an odor memory for their natal habitat that helps them navigate home to spawn as adults.
Our research in this area aims to:
- Develop hatchery rearing practices to improve salmon smolts' survival while reducing their interactions with wild salmon.
- Reduce early male maturation and straying (i.e., mis-migration during homing) of hatchery-produced salmon.
- Understand the potential impacts of climate change on salmon's early life history transitions and survival.
- Improve our understanding of how hatchery rearing affects aspects of salmon physiology and behavior (e.g., olfaction and homing) during later life-stages.
- Salmon hatchery reform: Improving smolt quality.
- Reducing early male maturation in hatchery salmon.
- Evaluation of methods to reduce straying rates of barged juvenile salmon.
- Evaluation of potential long-term epigenetic changes in salmonids in response to hatchery rearing.
- Puget Sound Chinook salmon recovery.
- Bonneville Power Administration
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Idaho Department of Fish and Game
- Shoshone-Bannock Tribes
- Yakama Nation
- Nez Perce Tribe
- Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation
- Grant County Public Utility District
- Douglas County Public Utility District
- Chelan County Public Utility District
Adam Luckenbach, Environmental Physiology Program Manager