Sockeye salmon (Ozette Lake ESU) (Oncorhynchus nerka pop. 2)

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


Sockeye salmon (Ozette Lake ESU) is a distinct population of Sockeye salmon. Visit the Sockeye salmon page for more information.

Climate vulnerability

Sensitivity to climate change


In general, sockeye salmon likely exhibit sensitivity to warmer water temperatures (freshwater and sea surface) and increased severity or frequency of winter/spring flood events. Washington State is near the southern extent of the range for sockeye salmon, suggesting that they will be sensitive to increases in water temperature (freshwater and ocean). For example, even at the northern extent of their range in Alaska, sockeye salmon in shallow, non-stratified lakes may be thermally stressed in the summer. In Washington, sockeye generally rear in deep, thermally stratified lakes and can move below the thermocline if surface waters become thermally unsuitable. This suggests that sockeye may be less sensitive to temperature during the freshwater phase of their life history as they are able to behaviorally thermoregulate. Additionally, sockeye may be somewhat more buffered from metabolic stresses associated with warmer water temperatures because lake food webs are generally more productive than that of streams. 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. Indeed, recent research suggests that survival rates of sockeye salmon are strongly affected by variations in regional SST during early ocean life, with lower survival rates during years with warm SST anomalies (however the mechanisms driving this trend may be upwelling and marine productivity rather than temperature per se). Increases in ocean and estuarine temperature, increased stratification of the water column, and/or changes in the intensity and timing of coastal upwelling may alter primary and secondary productivity, with potential impacts on growth, productivity, survival, and migrations of salmonids. Sockeye salmon are also likely sensitive to winter flood events that can scour substrates or move gravel and silts to bury embryos. Increased severity of winter floods has been linked to decreased egg-to-fry survival in fall-spawning Pacific salmon of Washington.

Confidence: Moderate

Exposure to climate change


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


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.