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Evolutionary History, Habitat Disturbance Regimes, and Anthropogenic Changes: What Do These Mean for Resilience of Pacific Salmon Populations?

Robin S. Waples, NOAA Fisheries Northwest Fisheries Science Center
Tim Beechie, NOAA Fisheries, Northwest Fisheries Science Center Environmental Conservation Division
George R. Pess, NOAA Fisheries, Northwest Fisheries Science Center Environmental Conservation Division

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Abstract

Because resilience of a biological system is a product of its evolutionary history, the historical template that describes the relationships between species and their dynamic habitats is an important point of reference. Habitats used by Pacific salmon have been quite variable throughout their evolutionary history, and these habitats can be characterized by four key attributes of disturbance regimes: frequency, magnitude, duration, and predictability. Over the past two centuries, major anthropogenic changes to salmon ecosystems have dramatically altered disturbance regimes that the species experience. To the extent that these disturbance regimes assume characteristics outside the range of the historical template, resilience of salmon populations might be compromised. We discuss anthropogenic changes that are particularly likely to compromise resilience of Pacific salmon and management actions that could help bring the current patterns of disturbance regimes more in line with the historical template.

Key words

climate change; duration; frequency; historical template; magnitude; Pacific Northwest; Oncorhynchus; Pacific salmon; predictability.
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087