Acoustic Imaging Observes Predator–Prey Interactions between Bull Trout and Migrating Sockeye Salmon Smolts

Academic Article


  • AbstractAnnual migrations by juvenile Pacific salmon Oncorhynchus spp. smolts are predictable, presenting opportunities for predators to exploit these seasonal prey pulses. Directly observing predator–prey interactions to understand factors affecting predation may be possible via dual‐frequency identification sonar (DIDSON) acoustic imaging. Within Chilko Lake, British Columbia, prior telemetry and stomach content analyses suggested that the out‐migration of Sockeye Salmon Oncorhynchus nerka smolts influences the movements and aggregations of Bull Trout Salvelinus confluentus that feed extensively on smolts during their out‐migration. Bull Trout captured at a government‐installed counting fence exhibited high consumption of smolts, but it is only assumed that feeding occurred directly at the fence. We used DIDSON to assess fine‐scale predator–prey interactions between Sockeye Salmon smolts and Bull Trout over 10 d during the 2016 smolt out‐migration. We found that smolt–Bull Trout interactions were correlated with smolt densities at the counting fence, consistent with the prior diet studies in the system. Predator–prey interactions were also coupled with nocturnal migratory behaviors of Sockeye Salmon smolts, presumably to minimize predation risk. These results demonstrate that DIDSON technology can record interactions between predators and migrating prey at a resolution that can identify variability in space and time and provide insight on the role of anthropogenic structures (e.g., counting fences) in mediating such interactions.
  • Authors

  • Cheng, Matthew LH
  • Hinch, Scott G
  • Juanes, Francis
  • Healy, Stephen J
  • Lotto, Andrew G
  • Mapley, Sydney J
  • Furey, Nathaniel
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • December 2022
  • Has Subject Area

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 1494
  • End Page

  • 1501
  • Volume

  • 42
  • Issue

  • 6