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Temperature, phenology, and embryo survival in Western Alaska sockeye salmon populations: the potential for adaptation to a warming world?

Morgan Sparks collects gametes from Iliamna Lake, Alaska sockeye salmon.

Duration

July 2014 - May 2016

Narrative

Rapidly warming water temperatures associated with climate change represent a substantial disturbance to the habitat of aquatic ectothermic organisms. For salmonid fishes, early life history survival and timing of reproduction and development are closely tied to temperature, such that altered thermal regimes could alter patterns of survival or shift phenology into a mismatch with the environment. Because temperature is the dominant driver of developmental rates, empirical statistical models have been developed to predict the timing of hatching and fry emergence based on average incubation temperature, but the effect of thermal variability (commonly observed in natural systems and predicted to increase with climate change) has not been incorporated into these models. This project was a collaboration between the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the University of Washington, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service. The results of this study indicated that the effects of climate change during salmon early life history stages may be buffered by phenotypic plasticity and variability in populations and habitats will be important to conserve to maintain diversity in the face of climate change.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Sparks, M.M., Falke, J.A., Westley, P.A.H., Adkison, M.D., Bartz, K., Quinn, T.P., Schindler, D.E., and D. Young. Influences of spawning timing, water temperature, and climatic warming on early life history phenology in western Alaska sockeye salmon.
  • Sparks, M.M., Westley, P.A.H., Falke, J.A., and T.P. Quinn. 2017. The role of thermal adaptation and phenotypic plasticity for responding to a warming world: insights from common garden experiments in Alaskan sockeye salmon. Global Change Biology. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13782

Thesis

  • Sparks, M. S. 2016. Climate, embryonic development, and potential for adaptation to warming water temperatures by Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. Unpublished Master's thesis. School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska. 100 pp.

Presentations

  • Sparks, M., Westley, P., Falke, J., and M. Adkison. 2015. Predicting Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) hatch timing by incorporating natural variability into an existing model. Alaska Chapter American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, Homer, Alaska, 4-6 November, 2015.
 

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 4

Masters Students: 5

Phd Students: 6

Post Docs: 3

University Staff: 3

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 24

Scientific Publications: 124

Presentations: 224

 

Personnel

Funding Agencies

  • FWS Anchorage AK

Links

Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. Alaska Department of Fish and Game
  2. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  3. U.S. Geological Survey
  4. University of Alaska Fairbanks
  5. Wildlife Management Institute