Marsh Flies Feed Salmon
Salmon River Estuary, Lincoln County
In 1996, a dike was breached in the Salmon River Estuary to restore tidal waters to nearly 75 acres of marsh. Scientists discovered that the restored marsh was being used by foraging juvenile salmon. The young salmon were eating energy-rich aquatic flies, which were documented in higher abundance in the restored marsh than in nearby areas. Information collected from the marshes was used to develop computer simulations, which showed that the high-energy flies helped salmon grow faster in the restored marsh than in other areas. Fast growth makes it easier for salmon to find food and avoid predators. The energy-rich flies also enabled the salmon to more effectively cope with warm water temperatures in the estuary.
The Salmon River Estuary has undergone a series of marsh restoration projects since 1978. The estuary is a unique natural laboratory for scientists who evaluate the effects of habitat restoration projects on salmon. Restoration scientists work with the estuary's landowners to ensure that private properties not slated for restoration are unaffected by habitat projects in the estuary.