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Corvallis Research Lab
Strategies for the Conservation of Pacific Salmon
North Pacific Rim Salmon Project
 
Introduction: The Pacific Rim Project is currently in limbo as to it's future direction. Funding has run out for project staff. Work is continuing on writing the project's final report which should go to press sometime in September. It is the hope of the Pacific Rim Project staff that the information system created by the project will continue to be an evolving information system that will serve as a framework for understanding the vast ecosystem of Pacific salmon. Toward this end, the following is a brief overview of the Pacific Rim Project to provide interested people with a better understanding of the goals, methods, and assembled resources of the Pacific Rim Project. Please keep in mind that this site was hurriedly put together and that it will be updated/improved as time permits. Comments/questions may be sent to Jeff Rodgers.

Project Personnel: Dan Bottom, project leader. Jeff Rodgers, assistant project leader. Xan Augerot, graduate student (PhD. candidate). Cathy Dey and Cathy Baldwin, research assistants.

Funding and Cooperators: The North Pacific Rim Salmon Project was a three year, $250,000 project funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through a cooperative agreement with Oregon State University's Center for Analysis of Environmental Change (CAEC). At the time of project inception Member institutions of CAEC include Oregon State University, U.S. Forest Service PNW Research Station, EPA Environmental Research Laboratory (Corvallis), and Battelle-Pacific Northwest Laboratories. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife donated time and salary for the project leader on half-time basis. Other project staff were ODFW employees f unded through an interagency agreement. The project also has involved a number of Russian colleagues who have synthesized information on the status and inland distribution of salmon stocks in the Russian Far East.

Research Goal and Objectives: The goal of the Salmon Conservation Strategies Project is to develop tools for evaluating conservation alternatives for Pacific salmon and their ecosystems. The general approach involves the use of a Geographic Information Sy stem to integrate existing data on the (1)distribution and status of Pacific salmonid stocks throughout their range; (2) terrestrial and freshwater landscapes that support salmonid freshwater existence; (3) oceanic ecosystems that support salmonid adult populations; (4) atmospheric systems that shape climatic patterns of salmonid habitats; and (5) social and political systems that regulate, influence and consume these resources.

Geographic Scope of Project: On the Asian continent, chum salmon delineate the southern extent of anadromous salmon, occurring as far south as Kyushu Island, Japan. Chinook salmon delineate the northeastern extent of anadromous salmon in North America, with a small number being reported in the Coppermine River of the Canadian Arctic. Pink salmon delineate the northwestern extent of anadromous salmon on the Asian continent, occurring as far northwest as the Lena River. Steelhead de lineate the southern extent in North America, historically occurring as far south as Mexico.

Salmon Biogeographic Zones: To delineate the major watersheds that support Pacific salmon and as a way of organizing the multitude of information that is available at different scales across the Pacific Rim salmon ecosystem, we developed a prototype templ ate of salmon biogeographic zones. This required a GIS coverage of rivers spanning the entire north Pacific Rim. The best dataset we could find came from ESRI's Digital Chart of the World (DCW). The DCW generally depicts streams down to 5th order.

The first step in delineating the prototype zones was to digitize river systems that flowed either into the Arctic or Pacific oceans. The second step was to digitize the large river systems such as the Lena, Amur, and Anadyr Rivers in Asia, and the MacKenzie, Yukon, Columbia, and Sacramento Rivers in North America, or rivers with unique physical, climatological, or biological characteristics such as the Uda River in Russia or the Umpqua River in Oregon.

The next step was to identify and digitize groups of rivers that flowed into similar nearshore ocean environments or that where identified as having similar stock characteristics. The result is a map which currently has 109 zones delineated. Note that these zones are subject to change as more information becomes available.

Bathymetry/Topography: In general, the terrestrial domain inhabited by North American anadromous salmon is more mountainous than that inhabited by Asian Salmon.

Paleoclimate: During the last glacial maximum (~15,000 - 20,000 years ago), ocean temperatures were generally colder off of the southern Asian zones than they are today.

Contemporary Ocean Temperature: In general the ocean is colder off the southern Asian zones today than for zones at similar latitudes in North America.

Air Temperature: Siberia's reputation is justly deserved. Because of continental influences, most of the Asian zones are much colder during the winter than zones at similar latitudes in North America.

Vegetation Productivity: Partially because of the longer growing season due to it's maritime climate, zones in the Pacific Northwest of North America have much higher vegetation productivity than the rest of the North Pacific Rim.

Precipitation Patterns: Precipitation patterns differ markedly between North American and Asian zones. Summer monsoons result in heavy precipitation in southern Asian zones, whereas North American zones at similar latitude are relatively dry during the summer.

Seasonal Runoff: As a result of the different climatic regimes, the southern Asian zones have peak discharges in the summer, similar to the more northerly zones in North America (zones in white are zones for which we currently h ave no hydrograph information in our database).

Distribution and Abundance of Pacific Salmon: As a result of the differences between the two continents, we see latitudinal differences in the relative distribution and abundance of anadromous salmon. Highlighted are the zones that contain chum, masu, and pink salmon. While a lot of this map is driven by the occurrence of masu salmon, it does serve as a useful illustration that, in general, pink and chum salmon are found in much higher abundance in the southern Asian zones than in zones at a similar latitude in North America.

Harvest Information (chinook; chum; coho; pink; sockeye): Harvest data can be used as another surrogate for relative species abundance. We've compiled a rim-wide database of salmon harvest by species spanning from 1920 to 1991. Shown are the broad areas for which we can associate harvest data over the 70 years of record. Even at this coarse resolution, we can begin to get a better indication of the relative abundances of the species as we move around the rim.

Stock Status: Increased concern about the viability of populations has stimulated a number of formal status reviews for regions of the Pacific Rim. While we have (or at least think we have) good information about the status of Pacific Northwest stocks, our understanding of the status of stocks decreases with increasing latitude. The information we do have for North America shows strong latitudinal trends in extinction.

In an effort to improve our understanding of the status of Asian stocks of Pacific salmon, we worked with fisheries biologists in Vladivostok to conduct a comprehensive status review for Primorsky Krai, in the Russian Far East. This survey showed that fall chum salmon have disappeared from much of their historic range in tributaries of the Ussuri River, and that these inland stocks are at a high risk of extinction.

Human Impacts: Not surprisingly, the latitudinal gradient of peril to salmon stocks is directly related to the latitudinal gradient of human development such as the urbanization of land and the presence of dams. As human population increases in northern latitudes, we predict increasing losses of salmon stocks around the Pacific Rim.

 

 


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