A new analysis of juvenile Chinook salmon in the Pacific Ocean documents a dramatic difference in their foraging habits and overall health between years of warm water and those when the water is colder.
The study found that when the water is warmer than average – by only two degrees Celsius – young salmon consume 30 percent more food than during cold-water regimes. Yet they are smaller and skinnier during those warm-water years, likely because they have to work harder to secure food and the prey they consume has less caloric energy.
Results of the research, conducted by researchers from Oregon State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, are being published this week in the journal PLOS One.
“When young salmon come out to sea and the water is warm, they need more food to keep their metabolic rate up, yet there is less available food and they have to work harder,” said Elizabeth Daly, an Oregon State senior faculty research assistant with the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies, a joint program of OSU and NOAA.
- Read the full release from OSU News and Research Communications
- Read about current and recent Oregon Sea Grant salmon research