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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Coded-Wire Tag Expansion Factors for Chinook Salmon Carcass Surveys in California: Estimating the Numbers and Proportions of Hatchery-Origin Fish


Recovery of fish with adipose fin clips (adc) and coded-wire tags (cwt) in escapement surveys allows calculation of expansion factors used in estimation of the total number of fish from each adc,cwt release group, allowing escapement to be resolved by age and stock of origin. Expanded recoveries are used to derive important estimates such as the total number and proportion of hatchery-origin fish present. The standard estimation scheme assumes accurate visual classification of adc status, which can be problematic for decomposing carcasses. Failure to account for this potential misclassification can lead to significant estimation bias. We reviewed sample expansion factors used for the California Central Valley Chinook salmon 2010 carcass surveys in this context. For upper Sacramento River fall-run and late fall-run carcass surveys, the estimated proportions of adc,cwt fish for fresh and non-fresh carcasses differed substantially, likely from the under-recognition of adc fish in non-fresh carcasses. The resulting estimated proportions of hatchery-origin fish in the upper Sacramento River fall-run and late fall-run carcass surveys were 2.33 to 2.89 times higher if only fresh carcasses are considered. Similar biases can be avoided by consideration of only fresh carcasses for which determination of adc status is relatively straightforward; however, restricting the analysis entirely to fresh carcasses may limit precision because of reduced sample size, and is only possible if protocols for sampling and recording data ensure that the sample data and results for fresh carcasses can be extracted. Thus we recommend sampling protocols that are clearly documented and separately track fresh versus non-fresh carcasses, either collecting only definitively adc fish or that carefully track non-fresh carcasses that are definitively adc versus those that are possibly adc. This would allow judicious use of non-fresh carcass data when sample sizes are otherwise inadequate.

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