Management of Pacific Salmon has been an issue for years. To determine whether management goals are working, knowledge of historical populations can prove quite useful. In a recent study published in Ecology, Deanne C. Drake, Robert J. Naiman, and James M. Helfield, all of the University of Washington, paired annual tree ring growth with catch data to determine what salmon stocks looked like 200 years ago.
Born in freshwater lakes and rivers, salmon swim to the ocean where they feed and mature. After a few years, they return to the river or lake of their birth to reproduce and die. As their bodies decay, they leave behind ocean nutrients in the freshwater ecosystems.
"There is a great need to understand how many salmon returned to rivers historically," said Naiman. "Once we knew nutrients from salmon carcasses affected tree growth in certain species, it seemed possible to use tree rings to estimate how many salmon returned to a river in any one year. This was a trial project to see if the idea would work."
Annie Drinkard | esa
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