Chinook Salmon in the Togiak River, Alaska

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Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) populations are declining throughout most of Alaska but remain a valuable resource for subsistence, sport, and commercial harvests. Traditional ecological knowledge indicates that the spawning distribution of Chinook salmon has shifted from tributaries to the main stem, with significantly more Chinook salmon spawning in the main stem than in tributaries. The goal of this project is to describe physical factors influencing Chinook salmon spawning habitat availability and distribution, which may influence overall abundance. The specific goals of this project are to (1) determine areas of high and low density Chinook salmon spawning and (2) describe the habitat characteristics associated with these areas. Telemetry data from Chinook salmon radio tagged in 2009–2012 were used to determine high and low density spawning in a Geographic Information System (GIS) framework. Next, visible and forward-looking infrared (FLIR) imagery was collected over the Togiak River in two main stem locations and one tributary location. This imagery will be analyzed to describe and compare the physical habitat characteristics and temperature differences in high and low density spawning areas with the expectation that areas with a low density of Chinook salmon spawning activity will have different habitat characteristics than areas with a high density of spawning activity. Information from this project will aid in understanding habitat characteristics important for Chinook salmon spawning that can be derived from remote sensing imagery, which may provide an alternative method to ground-based studies.

Author Name
Theresa Tanner
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