Bradley C, Sethi SA, Ashline J, Gerken J. (2017) Cohort-specific variation in juvenile coho salmon habitat use. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 26:695-706. DOI: 10.1111/eff.12317
In this study, we examined summer and fall freshwater rearing habitat use by juvenile coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) in the quickly urbanizing Big Lake drainage in southcentral Alaska. Habitat use was assessed by regressing fish count data against habitat survey information across thirty study sites using generalized linear mixed models. Habitat associations were examined by age-0 and age-1+ cohorts separately, providing an opportunity to compare habitat use across different juvenile coho salmon life stages during freshwater rearing. Regression results indicated that the age-0 cohorts were strongly associated with shallow wide stream reaches with in-stream vegetation, whereas age-1+ cohorts were associated with deeper stream reaches. Furthermore, associations between fork length and habitat characteristics suggest cohort-specific habitat use patterns are distinct from those attributable to fish size. Habitat use information generated from this study is being used to guide optimal fish passage restoration planning in the Big Lake drainage. Evidence for habitat use partitioning by age cohort during freshwater juvenile rearing indicates that pooling age cohorts into a single “juvenile” stage for the purposes of watershed management may mask important habitat use dynamics.