Hostetter, N.J., Evans, A.F., Payton, Q., Roby, D.D., Lyons, D.E., Collis, K.

Publication Date

12 February 2023

Publication Name

North American Journal of Fisheries Management

Monday June 19, 2023

We reviewed studies of piscivorous colonial waterbird predation on juvenile salmonids to synthesize current knowledge of factors affecting fish susceptibility to avian predators. Specifically, we examined peer-reviewed publications and reports from academic, governmental, and nongovernmental agencies to identify commonalities and differences in susceptibility of salmonids to avian predation, with a focus on mark–recovery studies in the Columbia River basin. Factors hypothesized to influence salmonid susceptibility to avian predation were grouped into four general categories: (1) salmonid species and populations, (2) environmental factors, (3) prey density, predator density, and migration timing, and (4) prey characteristics. Our review focused on predation by Caspian terns Hydroprogne caspia, double-crested cormorants Nannopterum auritum, and gull species Larus spp. as these are the most well-studied avian predators of salmonids. Results indicated that predator–prey interactions varied across salmonid species and populations and species of avian predator. Inferences across studies supported multiple hypotheses regarding predator–prey dynamics, including environmental factors that influence prey exposure to predators (e.g., river flows, turbidity, alternative prey), variation in predator and prey abundances, predator characteristics (e.g., foraging behavior, colony location), and prey characteristics (e.g., fish length, condition). Mark–recovery studies of avian predation on fish populations have greatly improved our understanding of the factors affecting fish susceptibility to avian predation, the relative contributions of abiotic and biotic factors to predation susceptibility, and the extent to which avian predation affects fish survival and the viability of prey populations. Future studies that jointly model predation and survival and the factors affecting those processes will further broaden our understanding of predator–prey dynamics and directly evaluate the effects of predation on prey population dynamics.

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