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Directional Selection by Fisheries and the Timing of Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) Migrations

Thomas P. Quinn, Sayre Hodgson, Lucy Flynn, Ray Hilborn and Donald E. Rogers
Ecological Applications
Vol. 17, No. 3 (Apr., 2007), pp. 731-739
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40061836
Page Count: 9
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Directional Selection by Fisheries and the Timing of Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) Migrations
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Abstract

The timing of migration from feeding to breeding areas is a critical link between the growth and survival of adult animals, their reproduction, and the fitness of their progeny. Commercial fisheries often catch a large fraction of the migrants (e.g., salmon), and exploitation rates can vary systematically over the fishing season. We examined daily records of sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in the Egegik and Ugashik management districts in Bristol Bay, Alaska (USA), for evidence of such temporally selective fishing. In recent years, the early migrants have experienced lower fishing rates than later migrants, especially in the Egegik district, and the median migration date of the fish escaping the fisheries has been getting progressively earlier in both districts. Moreover, the overall runs (catch and escapement) in the Egegik district and, to a lesser extent the Ugashik district, have been getting earlier, as predicted in response to the selection on timing. The trends in timing were not correlated with sea surface temperature in the region of the North Pacific Ocean where the salmon tend to concentrate, but the trends in the two districts were correlated with each other, indicating that there may be some common environmental influence in addition to the effect of selection. Despite the selection, both groups of salmon have remained productive. We hypothesize that this resilience may result from representation of all component populations among the early and late migrants, so that the fisheries have not eliminated entire populations, and from density-dependent processes that may have helped maintain the productivity of these salmon populations.

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