The Physiology of Migrations

The migration that adult Pacific salmon make from distant ocean feeding grounds to spawning streams hundreds of kilometers inland is among the most remarkable phenomena in the natural world. Our lab has conducted extensive work to advance the basic understanding of those migrations. Field and laboratory studies have examined reproductive hormones, total energy storage, stress levels, and whether specific genes, indicative of disease or thermal stress, are being turned on and off. We simulate migrations using fish holding tanks and swim tunnels in combination with sophisticated physiological measurements to understand how and why salmon perish at high migration temperatures, and how their cardiorespiratory and swimming performance is affected. Our work has allowed us to understand why some sockeye salmon enter the Fraser River earlier than they should (to their detriment), what the effects of high river temperatures have been on survival during migration, and how disease profiles of salmon in the ocean affect subsequent survival to spawn in freshwater. 

Selected Publications

Stevenson, C.F., Hinch, S.G., Porter, A.D., Rechisky, E.L., Welch, D.W., Healy, S.J., Lotto, A.G., Furey, N.B. 2019. The Influence of Smolt Age on Freshwater and Early Marine Behavior and Survival of Migrating Juvenile Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka). Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 148 (3): 636-651.

Houde, A.L.S., Günther, O.P., Strohm, J., Li, S., Kaukinen, H., Patterson, D.A., Farrell, A.P., Hinch, S.G., Miller, K.M. 2019. Discovery and validation of candidate smoltification gene expression biomarkers across multiple species and ecotypes of Pacific salmonids. Conservation Physiology7(1) coz051.

Minke-Martin, V., Hinch, S.G, Braun, D.C., Burnett, N.J., Casselman, M.T., Eliason, E.J., Middleton, C.T. 2018. Physiological condition and migratory experience affect fitness-related outcomes in adult female sockeye salmon. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 27(1): 296-309.

Healy, S.J., Hinch, S.G., Bass, A.L., Furey, N.B., Miller, K.M., Porter, A.D., Rechisky, E.L., Welch, D.L., Lotto, A.G. 2018. Transcriptome profiles relate to migration fate in hatchery steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) smolts. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 75(11): 2053-2068.

Bett, N.N., Hinch, S.G., Kaukinen, K.H., Li, S., Miller, K.M. 2018. Olfactory gene expression in migrating adult sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka. Journal of Fish Biology 92: 2029-2038.

Wilson, S.M., Hinch, S.G., Drenner, S.M., Martins, E.G., Furey, N.B., Patterson, D.A., Welch, D.W., Cooke, S.J. (2014) Coastal marine and in-river migration behaviour of adult sockeye salmon en route to spawning grounds. Marine Ecology Progress Series 496:71-84.

Jeffries, K.M., Hinch, S.G., Sierocinski, T., Clark, T.D., Eliason, E.J., Donaldson, M.R., Li, S., Pavlidis, P., Miller, K.M. (2012) Consequences of high temperatures and premature mortality on the transcriptome and blood physiology of wild adult sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka). Ecology and Evolution 2: 1747-1764.

Jeffries, K.M., Hinch, S.G., Donaldson, M.R., Gale, M.K., Burt, J.M., Thompson, L.A., Farrell, A.P, Patterson, D.A., Miller, K.M. (2011) Temporal changes in blood variables during final maturation and senescence in male sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka: reduced osmoregulatory ability can predict mortality. Journal of Fish Biology 79: 449-465.

Eliason, E.J., Clark, T.D., Hague, M.J., Hanson, L.M., Gallagher, Z.S., Jeffries, K.M., Gale, M.K., Patterson, D.A., Hinch, S.G., Farrell, A.P. (2011) Differences in thermal tolerance among sockeye salmon populations. Science 332: 109-112. *Was featured on the cover.

For other publications, please see our Publications page.