Biological Invasions

, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 615–639 | Cite as

Chinook salmon invade southern South America

  • Cristián CorreaEmail author
  • Mart R. Gross
Original Paper


We document the invasion of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) to southern South America providing historical, current and future perspectives. We conducted field sampling, angler surveys, and analyzed all written records, and found evidence of reproductive populations in more than ten Andean (and many more coastal) watersheds draining mainly to the Pacific Ocean in Chile (39°–53° S), but also to the Atlantic Ocean in Argentina (50° S). Invasion begun ∼25 years ago apparently from a few point sources of introduction by ocean ranching operations using spring-run Chinook salmon originated from tributaries of the lower Columbia River, USA. The rapid spread suggests that Chinook salmon were pre-adapted to their novel marine and freshwater environments because of similarities to equivalent North Pacific habitats, and invasion may have been facilitated by low ecological resistance. Preliminary data suggest that populations express a latitudinal gradient in juvenile migration life histories equivalent to that in their native range. Parallels to the only other establishment of anadromous Chinook salmon outside their native range, New Zealand, suggests a predictable invasion rate. In South America, the invasion is ongoing in southern areas, yet we deem unlikely colonization of rivers north of the range reached thus far. This is the first anadromous salmon species to have invaded such a large range in South America, and it raises many evolutionary, ecological, environmental and socioeconomic issues, with several discussed here.


Patagonia Andes Chile Introduced fish Life-history Propagule pressure Impacts Distribution range Establishment Colonization Naturalization Pre-adaptation 



We are especially thankful to the families Orellana (Valle Simpson), Salas (Melipeuco), Vargas (River Vargas) and Fuentes (Jaramillo River) and many other local people and angler interviewees for sharing their knowledge, and hosting our crew in the field. We thank Andrea Bravo for her invaluable help in the field and lab, and Gabriel Orellana, Juan José Santa Cruz and Manuel Tagle for helping in the field. We thank JS Moore, A Patel, C Robertson, B Turner, E Davies, the McGill University PGSS peer review group, and two anonymous reviewers, for assistance with the manuscript. This research was partially funded by the Canadian Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada—Discovery Grant to MG. During part of the manuscript preparation, CC was funded by the Government of Canada Award and by Chilean scholarship from Comición Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica. This research was conducted under Chilean permit issued by Subsecretaría de Pesca del Ministerio de Economía, Fomento y Reconstrucción (R. Ex. No. 445; 18/02/2004).


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Redpath Museum, Department of BiologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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