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    Author(s): Russell F. Thurow; Timothy Copeland; Bryce N. Oldemeyer
    Date: 2019
    Source: Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. doi: 10.1139/cjfas-2019-0111.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (411.0 KB)


    The ‘shifting baseline syndrome’ (SBS) is the paradigm whereby recent species abundances and environmental conditions are accepted as reflecting historical conditions. This leads to false impressions of the past, inaccurate baselines, and unrealistic recovery goals. Idaho biologists have counted Chinook salmon redds for >60 consecutive years, generating an invaluable database. However, inaccurate historical baselines compromise the utility of even such high- quality, long-term databases. To develop an accurate baseline, we integrated maximum, archival (1951-1964) redd counts with contemporary (1995-2017), continuous counts and spawn timing datasets to estimate historical (1950s-1960s) wild Chinook salmon production potential. Current salmon populations average 3% of 1950s-1960s abundances; that may have been 30% of pre- commercial fishery (1880s) populations. Notably, the SBS has influenced contemporary managers as reflected in minimum viable abundance, sustainable escapement, and adequate seeding objectives equaling 10.4%, 17.9%, and 20.4%, respectively, of 1950s-1960s potential. Our approach provides a framework for utilizing archival and contemporary data to reconstruct historical baselines and repress SBS. Contrasting contemporary goals with maximum production potential provides new reference points and perspectives for managers to consider.

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    Thurow, Russell F.; Copeland, Timothy; Oldemeyer, Bryce N. 2019. Wild Salmon and the Shifting Baseline Syndrome: Application of archival and contemporary redd counts to estimate historical Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) production potential in the Central Idaho wilderness. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. doi: 10.1139/cjfas-2019-0111.


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    shifting baselines, Chinook salmon, redds, production potential

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