All posts by Christina

Teslin Tlingit Salmon Steward

This project will take the form of a work experience program intended to offer a Teslin Tlingit youth the opportunity to explore a variety of fisheries-related work, building skills and experience in this field in the role of Salmon Steward. This position will, in turn, build the long-term capacity of Teslin Tlingit Council (TTC) to carry out projects and programs that promote salmon restoration, conservation, communication, and education.
The TTC Salmon Steward will be supported by experienced TTC staff technicians and managers and work with these staff, consultants, and TTC summer students over the course of one year. The range of work experiences that will be provided to the TTC Salmon Steward will be broad, and includes exposure to and participation in Chinook salmon management planning, meetings, and implementation, technical skills in restoration and monitoring, and educational and communication material development. While several of the activities in the proposed workplan for the Salmon Steward are required to meet the core objectives of the program (ie. participation in field-based technical work and educational outreach to students and community members), many activities within the scope of this project can be adapted to recognize the unique skills and interests of the successful candidate, and foster these skills to best serve the interests of long-term capacity building for the candidate and TTC alike. The creation of this position supports the success of other TTC projects (Deadman Creek Chinook Restoration and Upper Teslin Watershed Chinook Telemetry projects) by ensuring that the additional field-based capacity that these require is secured for the duration of the projects.

Little Salmon Carmacks Juvenile Chinook Salmon Monitoring Program

This project has 2 main goals; 1) to document the extent of juvenile Chinook salmon utilization in the Carmacks area on an annual basis to create a meaningful data base, and 2) to involve community (school and youth groups) in the collections in order to maintain a personal link between the year to year fluctuations of the salmon populations and in the process develop local stewardship of the salmon resources. To do this we will conduct a minnow trapping survey in 15 to 20 easily accessed sites within our traditional territory. The sites will be chosen this, the first year, on the basis of ability to be repeated in subsequent years. The accumulated data-base, composed on an annual basis, will allow an opportunity to follow the relative abundance of juvenile Chinook in the area. After several years of collection the data set will show trends and become a valuable tool in assessing health of individual areas.

Tay River Chinook Access Investigation

The Tay River is a tributary of the Pelly River in the upper Yukon River drainage and is also is one of the larger tributaries within the Pelly River watershed with an area of approximately 3,500 km2.

Despite the large size of the watershed and suitable habitat,  Chinook were not found in previous radio telemetry studies. The telemetry studies included detailed aerial surveys of all possible drainages that could contain Yukon River Chinook populations (Mercer 2005, Mercer and Eiler 2004, Osborne et al. 2003). The lack of radio tagged Chinook in the Tay River system led the researchers to conduct a more detailed aerial investigation of the lower reaches of the system. This investigation and subsequent surveys indicated that an impediment to salmon migration (velocity barrier) was located approximately 5 km upstream of the mouth of the Tay River drainage (Mercer and Eiler 2004).

Due to the Tay River system’s relatively large size and probable spawning and rearing habitat, it may offer one of the better opportunities to significantly increase Chinook production within the upper Yukon River system. The increase in Chinook production would be accomplished by providing and/or improving access for Chinook salmon into the system through modification of the current barrier /impediment to salmon migration.

The objectives of this study are to 1) determine the presence or absence of Chinook salmon in the system,  2) quantify the  potential Chinook production of the Tay River system using existing production models as they apply to the upper Yukon River watershed, and 3) conduct an engineering pre-assessment to identify options to improve the passage of Chinook Salmon into the system.



Juvenile Chinook Salmon Outmigration at the Yukon River Mouth

Juvenile outmigration is an important life stage for Yukon River Chinook salmon. Recent research suggests that much of the variability in Chinook salmon production may occur prior to the first summer at sea (Howard et al. 2016, Murphy et al. 2017) and that larger fish with higher energy content at the end of their first marine summer had a greater chance of surviving to adulthood (Howard et al. 2016). Outmigration from the river to the marine environment is physiologically stressful. Larger in-river has been linked to both downstream survival (Zabel & Achord 2004) and adult returns (Zabel & Williams 2002, Woodson et al. 2013) in wild Chinook populations, and suggests that early growth in fresh water may be an important indicator of later growth (Ruggerone at al. 2009). This is consistent with an emerging idea that fish need to prepare themselves for life history transitions such as smolting or offshore migrations. This preparation is associated with increased energy reserves, which are maximized by increased size.

The objectives of this project are to quantify outmigration timing from ice out through the end of the August,  examine size (length and weight), growth, diet, energetic condition, and smolting stage of outmigrating juveniles in relation to environmental variables in the freshwater and nearshore marine environment, and to collect genetic samples to assess outmigrant origin.

Developing a Juvenile Stock-Recruitment Relationship for Chinook Salmon

The main goal of this project is to develop a juvenile stock-recruit relationship for Yukon River Chinook salmon. Information about limits to production in the freshwater environment can play a key role in augmenting standard stock-recruit analysis.  Our second goal is to contribute to understanding about the extent that juvenile rearing habitat is limiting productivity at a given stock level which can then form the basis for setting restoration priorities. The objective of the proposed work is to extend an existing 6-year database of juvenile Chinook salmon density for small non-natal streams tributary to the Yukon River near Dawson City. Sampling in 2018 and possibly 2019 will take advantage of recent strong returns to the Canadian basin.  With an additional 2 years of data the relation between spawner abundance and subsequent juvenile density should be well established so that it can contribute to the goals identified above.