In this study, we tested the hypothesis that North American pink (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) and chum (O. keta) salmon stocks have experienced recent declines in productivity (i.e., the number of adult recruits returning per spawner) by investigating temporal and spatial trends in productivity of 99 wild North American pink and chum salmon stocks.
We used a combination of population dynamics and time series models to quantify individual stock trends as well as common temporal trends in pink and chum salmon productivity across local, regional, and continental spatial scales. Our results indicated widespread declines in productivity of wild chum salmon stocks throughout Washington (WA) and British Columbia (BC) with 81% of stocks showing recent declines in productivity, although the exact form of the trends varied among regions. For pink salmon, the majority of stocks in WA and BC (65%) did not have strong temporal trends in productivity; however, all stocks that did have trends in productivity showed declining productivity since at least brood year 1996. We found weaker evidence of widespread declines in productivity for Alaska pink and chum salmon, with some regions and stocks showing declines in productivity (e.g., Kodiak chum salmon stocks) and others showing increases (e.g., Alaska Peninsula pink salmon stocks). We also found strong positive covariation between stock productivity series at the regional spatial scale for both pink and chum salmon, along with evidence that this regional-scale positive covariation has become stronger since the early 1990s in WA and BC. In general, our results suggest that common processes operating at the regional or multi-regional spatial scales drive productivity of pink and chum salmon stocks in western North America and that the effects of these process on productivity may change over time.
Citation: Malick, M.J. and S.P. Cox. 2016. Regional-scale declines in productivity of pink and chum salmon stocks in western North America. PLoS ONE 11:e0146009. (PDF) https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0146009