Compton, J. E., C.P. Andersen, D.L. Phillips, J.R. Brooks, M.G. Johnson, M.R. Church, W.E. Hogsett, M.A. Cairns, P.T. Rygiewicz, B.C. McComb, and C.D. Shaff. 2006. Ecological and water quality consequences of nutrient addition for salmon restoration in the Pacific Northwest. Front. in Ecol. Environ. 4(1):18–26. WED-05-045
Salmon runs have declined over the past two centuries in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. Reduced inputs of salmon-derived organic matter and nutrients (SDN) may limit freshwater production and thus establish a negative feedback loop affecting future generations of fish. Restoration efforts use the rationale of declining SDN to justify artificial nutrient additions, with the goal of reversing salmon decline. The forms of nutrient addition include introducing salmon carcasses, carcass analogs (processed fish cakes), or inorganic fertilizers. While evidence suggests that fish and wildlife may benefit from increases in food availability as a result of carcass additions, stream ecosystems vary in their ability to use nutrients to benefit salmon. Moreover, the practice may introduce excess nutrients, disease, and toxic substances to streams that may already exceed proposed water quality standards. Restoration efforts involving nutrient addition must balance the potential benefits of increased food resources with the possible harm caused by increased nutrient and toxin loads.