Water Stewardship Information Sources

Citation Johnston, N.T., E.A. MacIsaac, P.J. Tschaplinski, and K.J. Hall. 2004. Effects of the abundance of spawning sockeye salmon (Oncorhunchus nerka) on nutrients and algal biomass in forested streams. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 61(3):384-403.
Organization FLNRO
URL https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfd/library/ffip/Johnston_NT2004CanJFishAquatSci.pdf
Abstract/Description or Keywords We used natural variation in sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) spawner biomass among sites and years
in three undisturbed, forested watersheds in interior British Columbia to test the hypotheses that salmon were a major
source of particulate organic matter inputs to the streams and that carcass biomass determined stream-water nutrient
concentrations and epilithic algal production. Sockeye carcasses were retained at the spawning sites, primarily (75–
80%) by large woody debris (LWD) or pools formed by LWD. The abundance and distribution of sockeye salmon
determined stream-water nutrient concentrations and epilithic chlorophyll a concentrations during late summer and early
fall when most primary production occurred in the oligotrophic streams. Periphyton accrual rates were elevated at sites
with high salmon biomass. Peak chlorophyll a concentration increased with increasing carcass biomass per unit discharge
above a threshold value to reach maxima 10-fold greater than ambient levels. Epilithic algae were dominated by
a few common, large diatom taxa. Salmon carcasses were the dominant source of particulate organic carbon in low
gradient stream reaches. Nutrient budget modeling indicated that most of the salmon-origin nutrients were exported
from the spawning streams or removed to the terrestrial ecosystem; diffuse impacts may extend over a much larger
area than simply the sites used for spawning.
Information Type article
Regional Watershed Vancouver Island South
Sub-watershed if known
Aquifer #
Project status ongoing
Contact Name Peter Tschaplinski
Contact Email [email protected]