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Ecol Appl. 2006 Jun;16(3):999-1009.

Salmon, wildlife, and wine: marine-derived nutrients in human-dominated ecosystems of central California.

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  • 1East Bay Municipal Utility District, Fisheries and Wildlife Office, 1 Winemasters Way Suite K2, Lodi, California 95240, USA.


Pacific salmon transfer large quantities of marine-derived nutrients to adjacent forest ecosystems with profound effects on plant and wildlife production. We investigated this process for two highly modified California wine country rivers, one with consistent salmon runs (Mokelumne River) and one without (Calaveras River). Mokelumne River Chinook salmon transported biomass and N comparable to Pacific Northwest salmon streams. Calaveras River levels were much less. Scavenger numbers correlated with salmon carcass counts over time on the Mokelumne River but not the Calaveras River. Likewise, salmon carcasses were consumed significantly faster on the Mokelumne River. Native riparian vegetation as well as cultivated wine grapes adjacent to Mokelumne River spawning sites received 18-25% of foliar N from marine sources, significantly higher than vegetation along the Calaveras River. These data suggest that robust salmon runs continue to provide important ecological services with high economic value, even in impaired watersheds. Loss of Pacific salmon can not only negatively affect stream and riparian ecosystem function, but can also affect local economies where agriculture and salmon streams coexist.

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