Chum salmon (Columbia River ESU) (Oncorhynchus keta pop. 3)

Category: Fish
Ecosystems: Marine shorelines
Federal ESA status: Threatened
Vulnerability to climate change (More details)


Chum salmon (Columbia River ESU) is a distinct population of Chum salmon. Visit the Chum salmon page for more information.

Climate vulnerability

Sensitivity to climate change


Washington State is near the southern extent of the geographic range for chum salmon, which suggests they may be sensitive to increases in water temperature and acidification (freshwater and ocean). Chum salmon incubate embryos in freshwater, but juveniles migrate to estuaries as age-zeros, typically during the spring; the spawning migrations of adult fish typically occur in late fall. Thus Columbia River chum salmon are unlikely to be exposed to thermal stress in the freshwater phase of their life-history. However, altered freshwater thermal regimes could affect chum salmon by altering their phenology and potentially creating mismatch between arrival in estuaries and the timing of ideal ecological conditions in estuarine habitats. Chum salmon will likely be most sensitive to changes in marine thermal regimes. In general, Pacific salmon survival is positively related to sea surface temperatures (SST) at the northern extent of their distribution, and negatively related at the southern extent. However, recent evidence suggests that chum salmon may be less sensitive to SST at the southern extent of their range compared with pink and sockeye. Chum salmon spawn in late fall at southern latitudes and their embryos are vulnerable to flood events that can scour redds or bury them in silt. Chum may be vulnerable to altered flow regimes that include increased flood severity, particularly in watersheds where land use has enhanced stream flashiness.

Confidence: High

Exposure to climate change


  • Increased water temperatures (freshwater and sea surface)
  • Increased winter/spring flood events
Confidence: High


This species is identified as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) under the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). SGCN-classified species include both those with and without legal protection status under the Federal or State Endangered Species programs, as well as game species with low populations. The WDFW SWAP is part of a nationwide effort by all 50 states and five U.S. territories to develop conservation action plans for fish, wildlife and their natural habitats—identifying opportunities for species' recovery before they are imperiled and more limited.
This species is identified as a Priority Species under WDFW's Priority Habitat and Species Program. Priority species require protective measures for their survival due to their population status, sensitivity to habitat alteration, and/or recreational, commercial, or tribal importance. The PHS program is the agency's main means of sharing fish and wildlife information with local governments, landowners, and others who use it to protect priority habitats for land use planning.