Research People Publications News Teaching Links


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

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.

Donaldson, M.R., Hinch, S.G., Raby, G.D., Patterson, D.A., Farrell, A.P., Cooke, S.J. (2012) Population-specific consequences of fisheries-related stressors on adult sockeye salmon. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 85: 729-739.

Clark, T.D., Donaldson, M.R., Pieperhoff, S., Drenner, S.M., Lotto, A., Cooke, S.J., Hinch, S.G., Patterson, D.A., Farrell, A.P. (2012) Physiological benefits of being small in a changing world: Responses of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) to an acute thermal challenge and a simulated capture event. PLoS One 7(6): e39079.

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.