• Factors influencing chinook salmon spawning distribution in the Togiak River, Alaska

      Meggers, Stephanie L.; Seitz, Andrew; Prakash, Anupma; Lopez, Andres; Tanner, Theresa (2018-12)
      Salmonids are heavily dependent on specific habitat characteristics for survival, yet few studies in Alaska have examined the relationship between habitat and spawning distribution, using remote sensing approaches. To better understand the relationship between Chinook Salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha spawning distribution and environmental variables like habitat type (e.g., run, riffle, pool), temperature, and proximity to channel islands, optical and thermal imagery were collected on the Togiak and Ongivinuk rivers in southwest Alaska. Object-based image analysis was used to classify and quantify habitat types, while thermal characteristics and the proximity of spawning locations to channel islands were determined in a GIS framework. Object-based image analysis was useful for classifying habitat and may provide a better alternative to pixel-based image analysis. However, rule sets were nontransferable and inconsistent among river reaches, and caution should be taken when these methods are used on large river sections. Chinook Salmon showed a preference for spawning in river runs, 80% of fish spawned in water temperatures between 8.6° and 9.4°C, and nearly 61% of Chinook Salmon spawned within 100 m of a channel island. This study provided a baseline understanding of environmental correlates of spawning for Chinook Salmon at the northern extent of their range.