, Volume 89, Issue 3-4, pp 533-546,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 16 Jun 2010

Genetic and otolith isotopic markers identify salmon populations in the Columbia River at broad and fine geographic scales


Processes occurring in freshwater, estuarine, and marine habitats strongly influence the growth, survival and reproductive success of salmonids. Nonetheless, implementing an ecosystem model explicitly linking these important habitats has been hindered by the inability to track the source identity of individuals where they co-occur. Here we explore the development and integration of natural markers- molecular and isotopic to characterize the natal sources of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in the Mid and Upper Columbia River summer/fall-run (UCR Su/F) population. Microsatellite DNA markers identified the majority of juveniles collected in rivers and hatcheries in the Mid and Upper Columbia River watershed to the Summer/Fall-run population in this watershed with 90% posterior probabilities of group membership. Strontium isotopes (87Sr/86Sr) measured in the natal rearing portion of the otolith showed significant geographic variation among natal rivers and hatcheries. Natal sites exhibited a wide dynamic range in 87Sr/86Sr source signatures (0.7043–0.7142), such that on average 61% of individuals were correctly classified to the location from which they were collected. We found that multilocus genotypes and otolith 87Sr/86Sr ratios collected on the same individuals were complementary markers when applied in a hierarchy. Microsatellites successfully assigned individuals to the broader UCR Su/F genetic group and 87Sr/86Sr provided finer-scale geographic assignments to five natal river and hatchery groups nested within the UCR Su/F population. The temporal stability of both genetic and 87Sr/86Sr markers, together with the coast-wide microsatellite baseline currently being used for mixed-stock fisheries management supports the further development and integration of 87Sr/86Sr markers to potentially achieve finer levels of stock resolution. Stock identification at the scales of individual rivers and hatcheries would help elucidate the abundance, distribution, and the relative contributions of natal sources important for the recovery and spatial management of Chinook salmon.