Researchers are applying a novel genetic technique as part of the development of an annual estimate for the number of juvenile spring-run Chinook salmon entering the Delta.

The technique, spearheaded by geneticist Melinda Baerwald from the California Department of Water Resources, allows researchers to accurately distinguish young spring-run salmon from other runs by targeting DNA sequences specific to these fish.   In a paper published in San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science, lead authors Baerwald and Peter A. Nelson explain some of the challenges of developing this estimate, called the spring-run juvenile production estimate. A key hurdle is differentiating spring-run fish from salmon that migrate during other seasons. Unlike juvenile salmon from the winter run, spring-run juveniles are hard to identify using the conventional length-at-date approach, which determines age and spawning migration season based on size.   “There’s nothing visually about a spring-run salmon that distinguishes it...
Read More