Impacts of increasing climate variability on coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) at the southern end of their range

Project Number
Project Date Range
Funding Agency
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Focus Area(s)
Healthy Coastal Ecosystems

Climate change in California is altering traditional precipitation patterns, leading to sharper and shorter winter rain seasons. These changing patterns can impact salmon that rely on precipitation events to move upriver to their spawning sites. Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) living at the southern end of their range face the largest interannual variability in climatic conditions.

The goal of this research is to understand how climate variation over multi-year timescales, especially precipitation variability, influences the spatiotemporal distribution of coho salmon spawning adults at the southern end of their range, and the consequences for juvenile salmon trait diversity and survival. There are three main objectives: 

  1. Quantify how variation in annual precipitation over time influences spawn timing, distribution, and rates across watersheds in the Coho salmon’s southern range
  2. Determine how precipitation variation interacts with spawning adults’ traits to affect population dynamics, including juvenile rearing, juvenile migration, and smolt production 
  3. Identify what life-history strategies contribute to adult returns in years with different spawning trait variation and climatic conditions

It is critical to understand the feedbacks between climate, instream flows, and the coho salmon life cycle to help make informed policy decisions about water management and conservation and restoration actions in wake of climate change. 

Principal Investigators
Rachael Ryan
University of California, Berkeley
Co-principal Investigators
Stephanie Carlson
University of California, Berkeley

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