Impacts of a changing Ecosystem on Atlantic Salmon Marine Productivity

Katherine Mills, Gulf of Maine Research Institution

Abstract

Atlantic salmon populations have declined throughout North America and Europe in recent
decades. These declines have exhibited similar patterns over broad geographic areas, and
previous studies have shown correlations between salmon declines and changing marine
ecosystem conditions. These analyses have specifically identified warming ocean conditions and changes in the prey base as closely linked with Atlantic salmon population trends. The observed ecosystem changes have likely increased the energy requirements of Atlantic salmon and reduced the energy available to them through their prey. However, the mechanisms behind these relationships remain undiagnosed. Through this project, we will investigate the hypothesis that ecosystem changes have influenced the energy needed by and available to Atlantic salmon and thereby have affected salmon growth, survival, and productivity during their marine phase.

Results will provide a better understanding of how marine ecosystem conditions affect Atlantic salmon populations, which is valuable information for evaluating their recovery prospects and constraints.