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Russian Journal of Marine Biology

, Volume 43, Issue 7, pp 507–534 | Cite as

On the Persistence of Stereotypes Concerning the Marine Ecology of Pacific Salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.)

  • V. P. Shuntov
  • O. S. Temnykh
  • O. A. Ivanov
Article

Abstract

Some of the views on the marine ecology of Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) that were popular in the second half of the 20th century are discussed critically: the absolutization of the influence of sea surface temperature on distribution of salmon and strength of their year classes, as well as the conclusions on the shortage of food (particularly in winter) and the fierce competition for food, the “suppression” of other salmon species and own adjacent broodline by pink salmon, the limited carrying capacity of the pelagic zone of subarctic ocean waters for salmon, the distortion of the structure of epipelagic communities in ecosystems of the North Pacific due to the large-scale stock enhancement of chum salmon, etc. Most of these ideas have not been confirmed by the data of long-term monitoring conducted in the form of complex marine expeditions by the Pacific Research Fisheries Center (TINRO Center) in the Far-Eastern Seas and adjacent North Pacific waters since the 1980s. The data show that Pacific salmon are ecologically very flexible species with a wider temperature range of habitat than was previously believed. Salmon are able to make considerable vertical migrations, easily crossing zones of sharp temperature gradient and different water masses. Having the wide feeding spectra and being dispersed (as non-schooling fish) when feeding in the sea and ocean, they successfully satisfy their dietary needs in vast areas even with relatively low concentrations of prey organisms (macroplankton and small nekton). The total biomass of all the Pacific salmon species in the North Pacific is not greater than 4–5 million t (including 1.5–2.0 million t in Russian waters), whereas the biomass of other common species of nekton is a few hundreds of millions of tons. Salmon account for 1.0–5.0% of the total amount of food consumed by nekton in the epipelagic layer of the western Bering Sea, 0.5–1.0% in the Sea of Okhotsk, less than 1% in the ocean waters off the Kuril Islands, and 5.0–15.0% in the ocean waters off East Kamchatka. Thus, the role of Pacific salmon in the trophic webs of subarctic waters is rather moderate. Therefore, neither pink nor chum salmon can be considered as the species responsible for the large reorganization in ecosystems and the population fluctuations in other common nekton species.

Keywords

Pacific salmon sea surface temperature food supply food competition carrying capacity population dynamics fishery forecast year class strength 

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Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pacific Research Fisheries CenterVladivostokRussia

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