Assessing the Limits to Production of Juvenile Canadian-origin Yukon River Chinook Over-wintering Habitat

The productivity of Chinook salmon in the Yukon River has decreased from as many as 5 recruits per spawner in the 1980s to 1 or fewer less recruit per spawner today. This decrease has severely impacted the size of salmon runs and the people who depend on salmon for sustenance, cultural identity, and making ends meet. As managers, scientists, tribes, governments, and communities look at what can be done to improve the runs of Chinook salmon in the Yukon River, it will be important to understand the limits to production in freshwater so that restoration activities are as impactful as possible.

This project aims to describe limits to production in freshwater with the aim of informing both stock and habitat restoration activities. The work involves the assessment of over-wintering habitat of juvenile Canadian-origin Chinook salmon in the Yukon River, first through the delineation of over-wintering populations of Chinook salmon; and second, through the characterization of this habitat.

The results of this project will be a characterization of the differences in habitat use by juvenile Chinook across the first year of life (post emergence) in one system in the Yukon River.

Though carried out in a particular geographic area, the results of this project can help guide the quantification of over-wintering habitat across a larger geographic scale and can help evaluate the role of over-wintering habitat in limiting productivity.