Current and past watershed studies led by KBNERR indicate that estuarine environments in Cook Inlet may be very important to juvenile salmon, not just as transitional outmigration corridors, but also as significant rearing areas that provide opportunity for multiple life history strategies. These studies show that spatial and temporal variability in estuary fish communities is potentially related to channel configuration and morphology, tides, and salinity gradients. This project uses the data we have gathered as a baseline to develop metrics for tidal channels in other estuaries that relate to fish occupancy, residence and feeding to create habitat suitability models. We will test the applicability of the suitability models in several estuaries in Cook Inlet to map juvenile salmon estuary habitats.
Funding for this project stems from Alaska’s Wildlife Action Plan, a program implemented by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Matching funds are being provided by the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council. The project began in Summer 2016. Refer to KBNERR’s Newsletters & Reports for updates on the project’s performance.