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Distribution and use of rearing habitats by juvenile Chinook salmon in the Chena River basin, Alaska


January 2014 - May 2016


Most Chinook salmon in Alaska follow the stream-type life history where adults return from the ocean and spawn in summer and fall, eggs hatch in early spring, juveniles over-summer and –winter in tributaries and smolt outmigration occurs the following spring. It is generally understood that fry disperse from spawning areas to feed in mainstem, tributary, or off-channel habitats. However, the extent of these movements, and the spatial distribution of rearing habitats in interior Alaska stream networks are not well-quantified. Moreover, although digital models predicting the distribution of rearing habitats exist for southern populations (i.e., Columbia and Copper River basins), they have not been parameterized for interior Alaska. A better understanding of the environmental features (i.e., physical habitat) that support high quality Chinook salmon rearing habitats in the Chena River basin is warranted. We will conduct semi-continuous surveys from upstream to downstream via boat or canoe in the main channel Chena River, sampling previously randomly-selected channel units. Tributaries will also be sampled via systematic surveys from downstream to upstream. Sampling will be conducted using rapid-assessment methods such as snorkeling and/or videography under an occupancy estimation framework. Predictive models of juvenile occurrence will be built based on covariates representing immutable factors of the physical environment derived from a digital landscape model parameterized for the Chena River basin (NetMap). Model results will be used to predict the upstream and downstream limits of juvenile Chinook salmon rearing habitats. Rearing habitat quality will be assessed based on age and growth and/or condition of individual juveniles collected from representative habitat types identified during the distribution surveys (e.g., tributary, main-stem, backwater). This project is funded by the State of Alaska and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Research Products and Activities


  • 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.
  • Martin, A.N., Falke, J.A., Pomeranz, J.F., and J.W. Saveride. 2014. Habitat potential for juvenile Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in the Chena River basin, Alaska. Alaska Chapter American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, Juneau, Alaska, 21-24 October 2014.
  • Martin, A.N., Falke, J.A., Savereide, J.W., and J.A. Lopez. 2015. Estimating the distribution of juvenile Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) using habitat modeling and eDNA in an interior Alaska river basin. Alaska Chapter American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, Homer, Alaska, 4-6 November, 2015.

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 101

Masters Students: 232

Phd Students: 160

Post Docs: 58

University Staff: 268

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 677

Scientific Publications: 1887

Presentations: 4313



Funding Agencies

  • Alaska Department of Fish and Game


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey