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Habitat Utilization by Juvenile Pacific Salmon ( Onchorynchus ) in the Glacial Taku River, Southeast Alaska

Murphy, Michael L.; Heifetz, Jonathan; Thedinga, John F.; Johnson, Scott W.; Koski, K. V.

Habitat utilization was determined in summer 1986 by sampling 54 sites of nine habitat types: main channels, backwaters, braids, channel edges, and sloughs in the river; and beaver ponds, terrace tributaries, tributary mouths, and upland sloughs on the valley floor. Physical characteristics were measured at all sites, and all habitats except main channels (current too swift for rearing salmon) were seined to determine fish density. Sockeye (Oncorhynchus nerka) averaged 23 fish/100 m2, nearly twice the density of coho (O. kisutch) and four times that of chinook (O. tshawytscha), 14 and 6 fish/100 m2, respectively. Sockeye were age 0, 27–84 mm fork length (FL), and most abundant in upland sloughs, beaver ponds, and tributary mouths. Coho were ages 0 and 1, 33–132 mm FL, and most abundant in beaver ponds and upland sloughs. Chinook were age 0, 40–93 mm FL, and more abundant than the other species in habitats with faster currents (1–20 cm/s), particularly channel edges. Each species was absent from about one-quarter of the seining sites of each habitat type. Thus, the lower Taku River provides important summer habitat for juvenile salmon, but many suitable areas were unoccupied, possibly because of their distance from spawning areas and poor access for colonizing fish.

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