Collaborative Conservation of Ishyâat in a Spring-Run Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) Stronghold

Project Number
Project Date Range
Funding Agency
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Focus Area(s)
Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies




This project will focus on the Salmon River, which hosts the largest remaining non-hatchery population of spring-run Chinook in the Klamath Basin, making it a high priority for efforts to conserve Klamath Chinook biodiversity. The  goal of this project is to improve understanding of how spring-run Chinook interact with other Chinook genotypes and use freshwater habitat, thereby enhancing our ability to conserve spring-run Chinook populations.



Adult migration (run) timing of Pacific salmon is a diverse life history trait that contributes to the resilience of salmon populations. By entering fresh water at different times, distinct salmon runs experience distinct risks and opportunities for survival, growth and reproduction, which can vary year-to-year. In many watersheds, however, spring-run Chinook populations are imperiled because they spend more time in fresh water and are particularly vulnerable to freshwater habitat modification. 

Spring-run Chinook were historically the most abundant run in the Klamath River, but they currently face extinction risk and are listed as “threatened” by the State of California. The overall goal of this project is to improve understanding of the life history and ecological characteristics of spring-run Chinook, which is needed to address issues of pressing management concern. Researchers will evaluate how juvenile life history strategies, breeding success, and spawning and rearing locations may differ among Chinook run types. 

Findings from this project will have direct application to management and conservation of spring-run Chinook and will inform targeted restoration efforts. Findings will also be relevant outside the Klamath Basin, in watersheds where spring-run Chinook exist and where Endangered Species Act petitions are pending, including the Oregon coast. This research is not only an important contribution to the conservation of Pacific salmon, but also an act of social justice in service of and, most importantly, in collaboration with the needs and interests of Indigenous peoples, for whom the disappearance of spring-run Chinook has been described as cultural genocide.

Community Mentors: Toz Soto (Karuk Tribe), Karuna Greenberg (Salmon River Restoration Council), Matthew Sloat (Wild Salmon Center)


Principal Investigators
Stephanie Carlson
University of California, Berkeley
Theodore Grantham
University of California, Berkeley
Co-principal Investigators
Amy Fingerle
University of California, Berkeley