Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 984–998

The Role of Marsh-Derived Macrodetritus to the Food Webs of Juvenile Chinook Salmon in a Large Altered Estuary


DOI: 10.1007/s12237-009-9197-1

Cite this article as:
Maier, G.O. & Simenstad, C.A. Estuaries and Coasts (2009) 32: 984. doi:10.1007/s12237-009-9197-1


The goal of this study was to determine the food web pathways supporting juvenile Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) salmon in the Columbia River estuary through multiple stable isotope analysis (δ13C, δ15N, δ34S). Using this method, we distinguished the role of various organic matter sources in Chinook food webs and interpreted the dynamics of their use both spatially and temporally within the estuary. Our results indicate that subyearling Chinook are associated with fluvial, anthropogenic, estuarine, and marine organic matter sources, with hatchery food and vascular plant detritus being the most dominant sources in juvenile Chinook food webs. Although freshwater phytoplankton is involved in many food web pathways to subyearling Chinook, increased phytoplankton production from the impounded river has not replaced the loss of autochthonous marsh production to fish. Our results indicate that large-scale ecosystem alteration may have decreased the availability and quality of food webs in the estuary and potentially diminished the ability of the Columbia to support Chinook salmon.


Detritus Food webs Isotopes Juvenile Chinook Columbia River estuary 

Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Aquatic and Fishery SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.NOAA-National Marine Fisheries ServiceYrekaUSA

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