Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Alaska
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Alaska Project


The role of environmental processes in structuring the distribution of Chinook salmon spawning and rearing habitats across a large Alaska river basin

June 2013 - June 2018


Personnel

Participating Agencies

  • State of Alaska/Alaska Department of Fish and Game
  • Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Brock Huntsman measures physical habitat on the Chena River, Alaska

Chinook salmon are an important commercial, subsistence, and recreational fishery resource in Alaska. Substantial declines in escapement from many Alaskan watersheds in recent years have resulted in closures of Chinook salmon fishing in more imperiled drainages, such as the Chena River, Alaska. Physical processes such as hydrology and stream temperature are important mechanisms that influence fish populations, yet their dynamics are poorly understood in boreal stream ecosystems. This project was a collaboration between the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. We developed spatially continuous metrics that describe historic, current, and future physical habitat, hydrologic and temperature regimes within the Chena River basin, a predictive model of stream thermal regimes used to investigate riverscape-scale patterns in juvenile salmon bioenergetic performance, and an assessment of environmental and density-dependent factors influencing juvenile and adult Chinook salmon population dynamics and distributions. Our results will assist with conservation and management planning through identification and prioritization of critical spawning and rearing areas, and ultimately help identify mechanisms limiting Chinook salmon productivity within the Chena watershed.

Research Publications Publication Date
Huntsman, B.M., and J.A. Falke. 2019. Main stem and off-channel habitat use by juvenile Chinook salmon in a sub-Arctic riverscape. Freshwater Biology. 64: 433-446. DOI: 10.1111/fwb.13232. 2019-02-28
Huntsman, B.M., Falke, J.A., Savereide, J.W., and K.E. Bennett. 2017. The role of density-dependent and –independent processes in spawning habitat selection by salmon in an Arctic boreal stream network. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0177467. https://doi.org/10.1371/ journal.pone.0177467 2017-05-31
Falke, J.A., Huntsman, B.M., and E.R. Schoen. 2019. Climatic variation drives growth potential of juvenile Chinook Salmon along a subarctic boreal riverscape. Pages 57-82 in R.M. Hughes and D. Infante, editors. Advances in understanding landscape influences on freshwater habitats and biological assemblages. American Fisheries Society, Symposium 90, Bethesda, Maryland. 2019-09-30
Presentations Presentation Date
Huntsman, B.M., Falke, J.A., Saveride, J., and K. Bennett. 2015. Density-dependent and -independent mechanisms influencing spawning habitat selection by Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in the Chena River basin, Alaska. Alaska Chapter American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, Homer, Alaska, 4-6 November 2015 2015-11-04
Falke, J.A., Benda, L., and F. J. Adams. 2013. Chena River basin landscape-scale freshwater physical habitat studies. Alaska Chapter American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, Fairbanks, AK, 7-11 October 2013. 2013-10-09
Falke, J.A., Martin, A. N., and B. M. Huntsman. 2014. Chena River basin juvenile Chinook salmon and physical habitat studies (2013-2016). Yukon Basin Interagency Fisheries Meeting. April 18, 2014. Fairbanks, AK. 2014-04-18
Falke, J.A., Huntsman, B.M., and A.N. Martin. 2016. The Role of Geomorphic and Hydrologic Processes in Structuring Spawning and Rearing Habitats for Chinook Salmon in a Boreal Stream Network. American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, Kansas City, MO, 22-26 August 2016. 2016-08-23
Falke, J.A., Huntsman, B.M., and E.R. Schoen. 2018. Growth potential of juvenile Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) across a boreal riverscape. American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, Atlantic City, New Jersey, August 20-24, 2018. 2018-08-20
Falke, J.A., Huntsman, B.M., Schoen, E.R., and K.E. Bennett. 2016. Growth potential of juvenile Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) across a boreal riverscape. Alaska Chapter of the American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, Fairbanks, AK, 20-24 March 2017. 2017-03-22