The Fishing and Marine Industry Daily News Feed

How Salmon Feed Flowers and Flourishing Ecosystems

Nutrients from salmon carcasses can substantively alter the growth and reproduction of plant species in the surrounding habitat, and even cause some flowers to grow bigger and more plentiful, SFU researchers have found.

Their study, published today in the journal Royal Society Open Science, is the first to demonstrate a connection between salmon and coastal plant growth and reproduction. The work extends what has previously been known about a nitrogen isotope that is found in some plants and animals in the ecosystem and has been generally attributed to the nutrients from salmon.

It also sheds light on the bigger picture of how the impact of climate change on the rivers and streams travelled by salmon could help to inform ecosystem planning and management.

During a three-year field study, researchers experimentally added pink salmon carcasses into the estuary of a small river in Haíɫzaqv (Heiltsuk) territory on B.C.’s central coast. The area features a large meadow of grasses and wildflowers.

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