Water temperature influences almost every biological and physiological process of salmon, including disease resistance. In the Klamath River (California), current thermal conditions are considered sub-optimal for juvenile salmon. In addition to borderline temperatures, these fish must contend with the myxozoan parasite Ceratomyxa shasta, a significant cause of juvenile salmonid mortality in this system. This paper presents 2 studies, conducted from 2007 to 2010, that examine thermal effects on C. shasta–induced mortality in native Klamath River Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch) salmon. In each study, fish were exposed to C. shasta in the Klamath River for 72 hr and then reared in the laboratory under temperature-controlled conditions. The first study analyzed data collected from a multi-year monitoring project to asses the influence of elevated temperatures on parasite-induced mortality during the spring/summer migration period. The second study compared disease progression in both species at 4 temperatures (13, 15, 18, and 21 C) representative of spring/summer migration conditions. Both studies demonstrated that elevated water temperatures consistently resulted in higher mortality and faster mean days to death. However, analysis of data from the multi-year monitoring showed that the magnitude of this effect varied among years and was more closely associated with parasite density than with temperature. Also, there was a difference in the timing of peak mortality between species; Chinook incurred high mortalities in 2008 and 2009, whereas coho was greatest in 2007 and 2008. As neither temperature nor parasite density can be easily manipulated, management strategies should focus on disrupting the overlap of this parasite and its obligate hosts to improve emigration success and survival of juvenile salmon in the Klamath River.

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