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REPOST: Congeneric Sockeye Show Uncommon Resistance to Runoff

Study Abstract

The sensitivity of closely related Pacific salmon and steelhead (Oncorhynchus spp.) to untreated urban stormwater runoff was compared across three storm events. Juvenile coho, sockeye, steelhead, and Chinook were exposed for 24 h to untreated urban runoff and then transferred to clean water for 48 h. As anticipated from previous studies, coho were highly susceptible to runoff toxicity, with cumulative mortality rates ranging from 92%–100% across the three storms. By contrast, juvenile sockeye were unaffected (100% survival), and cumulative mortality rates were intermediate for steelhead (4%–42%) and Chinook (0%–13%). Furthermore, coho died rapidly following the onset of stormwater exposure (generally <4 h), whereas mortality in Chinook and steelhead was delayed by 1–2 days. Similar to previous findings for coho, steelhead and Chinook did not recover when transferred to clean water. Lastly, significant mortality occurred in coho even when roadway runoff was diluted by 95% in clean water. The findings extend the urban runoff mortality syndrome in salmonids and point to a near-term need for sublethal studies in steelhead and Chinook to more precisely understand stormwater risks to threatened species recovery efforts in the western United States.

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