Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 321–334 | Cite as

Relationship of size at return with environmental variation, hatchery production, and productivity of wild pink salmon in Prince William Sound, Alaska: does size matter?

  • Alex C. Wertheimer
  • William R. Heard
  • J. M. Maselko
  • William W. Smoker


Pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) returning to Prince William Sound (PWS), Alaska, have increased to historically high levels of abundance in recent years, but average body size at return has declined. We examined how body size at return of PWS pink salmon was related to 10 biophysical factors, including the scale of hatchery production. We also examined the effect of body size at return on productivity of wild pink salmon in PWS. For the 1975–1999 brood years, we found that an index of total abundance of pink salmon in the Gulf of Alaska and sea surface temperature during the year of return best explained the variation in pink salmon body size over time. Body size at return was significantly correlated with productivity of wild pink salmon. We used stepwise-regression to fit a generalized linear version of the Ricker spawner-recruit model to determine if body size would explain significant variation in wild-stock productivity in context with other environmental variation, including hatchery production. The results indicate that variability in wild-stock productivity is primarily driven by density-independent factors in the marine environment, but that body size of wild spawners also significantly affects productivity of wild PWS pink salmon. We conclude that the success of large-scale enhancement increasing the total run in PWS may have contributed to the decline in body size because of density-dependent growth in the Gulf of Alaska. We used a simulation model to estimate the impact of hatchery-induced changes in adult body size on wild-stock production in PWS. We estimated an annual wild-stock yield loss of 1.03 million pink salmon, less than 5% of the annual hatchery return of 24.2 million adult pink salmon for brood years 1990–1999.


hatchery interactions salmon ranching stock enhancement 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alex C. Wertheimer
    • 1
  • William R. Heard
    • 1
  • J. M. Maselko
    • 1
  • William W. Smoker
    • 2
  1. 1.National Marine Fisheries Service, Auke Bay LaboratoryAlaska Fisheries Science CenterJuneauUSA
  2. 2.Juneau Center for Fisheries and Ocean SciencesUniversity of Alaska, FairbanksJuneauUSA

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