sockeye research climate change

Adult sockeye salmon returning to spawn in the lakes of Bristol Bay in August 2015.

An ample buffet of freshwater food, brought on by climate change, is altering the life history of one of the world’s most important salmon species.Sockeye salmon in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region are skipping an entire year in freshwater because climate change has produced more favorable conditions in lakes and streams, which allow the young fish to grow and put on weight much faster.

Previously, these fish would spend up to two years in their birth lakes before heading to the ocean, where they feed and reach maturity two to three years later. Now they are more likely to head out to sea after only one year. These findings were published May 27 in Nature Ecology & Evolution by University of Washington researchers.

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