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Redwood Creek Chinook salmon life cycle model code and data

Cite this dataset

Chen, Emily et al. (2022). Redwood Creek Chinook salmon life cycle model code and data [Dataset]. Dryad.


Understanding the spatial and temporal habitat use of a population is a necessary step for restoration decision making. For Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), variation in their migration and habitat use complicate predicting how restoring habitats will impact total recruitment. To evaluate how juvenile life history variation affects a population’s response to potential restoration, we developed a stage-structured model for a Chinook salmon population in a northern California river with a seasonally closed estuary. We modeled the timing of juvenile migration and estuarine use as a function of freshwater conditions and fish abundance We used the model to evaluate the sensitivity of the population to different estuary and freshwater restoration scenarios that would affect population parameters at different life stages. The population’s run size increased most in response to freshwater restoration that enhanced spawning productivity (egg and fry survival), followed by spawner capacity. In contrast, estuary restoration scenarios affected only a subset of Chinook salmon (average 15 percent), and as a result, did not have a large impact on the total recruitment of a cohort. Under current condition, estuary rearing fish were over six times less likely to survive than fish that migrate to the ocean in the spring or early summer before estuary closure. Because estuary residents experienced low survival in the estuary and in the ocean, improvements to both estuary survival and growth would be needed to increase their total survival. When life cycle monitoring data is available, life cycle models such as ours generate predictions at scales relevant to conservation and are an advantageous approach to managing and conserving anadromous salmon that use multiple habitats throughout their life cycle.


California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Award: P1610535