Evidence for multiple navigational sensory capabilities of Chinook salmon

Brian J. Burke, James J. Anderson, António M. Baptista

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


To study the complex coastal migrations patterns exhibited by juvenile Columbia River Chinook salmon as they enter and move through the marine environment, we created an individual-based model in a coupled Eulerian-Lagrangian framework. We modeled 5 distinct migration strategies and compared the resulting spatial distributions to catch data collected during May and June in 3 years. Two strategies produced fish distributions similar to those observed in May, but only one also produced the observed June distributions. In both strategies, salmon distinguish north from south (i.e. they have a compass sense), and they control their position relative to particular landmarks, such as the river mouth. With these 2 abilities, we posit that salmon follow spatially explicit behavior rules that prevent entrapment in strong southward currents and advection offshore. Additionally, the consistent spatio-temporal distributions observed among years suggest that salmon use a clock sense to adjust their swim speed, within and among years, in response to progress along their migration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-90
Number of pages14
JournalAquatic Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 13 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavior
  • Chinook salmon
  • Individual-based model
  • Migration
  • Navigation
  • Oncorhynchus tshawytscha

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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