Hellmair, M., Peterson, M., Mulvey, B., Young, K., Montgomery, J., and Fuller, A.

Publication Date

30 July 2018

Publication Name

North American Journal of Fisheries Management

Monday July 30, 2018

Urban and agricultural development has resulted in drastically modified riverine corridors that are often considered to be detrimental to the recovery of anadromous salmonid populations. Although mitigation features (e.g., large wood and shallow-water areas) are frequently incorporated in flood control infrastructure to offset the impacts of streambank stabilization, little is known regarding their effectiveness and the habitat characteristics associated with enhanced nearshore rearing conditions in large rivers. We evaluated two measures of habitat use by emigrating juvenile Chinook Salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha relative to different shoreline types (rock revetment [riprap], mitigated, and natural) and analyzed associations between environmental characteristics and habitat occupancy using a large number of presence/absence samples in the lower Sacramento River, California. We found both measures of habitat use to be significantly higher at natural shorelines and those including mitigation features than at shorelines consisting predominantly of rock revetment. A predictive logistic regression model suggested that the density of woody material and inundated terrestrial vegetation, depth, and substrate type significantly affected habitat occupancy. Despite a moderate predictive capability (62% of correctly classified records in a leave-one-out simulation), the model was useful in identifying habitat characteristics associated with significantly increased habitat use in this large, low-gradient river, most notably the presence of instream cover (wood or vegetation), gently sloping streambanks, fine substrate, and variable nearshore current velocity. Conversely, habitat occupancy by juvenile Chinook Salmon diminished with large, rocky substrate and increased depth, characteristics favored by introduced predatory Smallmouth Bass Micropterus dolomieu. This study illustrates the value of incorporating mitigation features and identifies characteristics that enhance habitat use by emigrating juvenile Chinook Salmon.

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