DOI: 10.1002/rra.4228 ISSN: 1535-1459

Expansion of smallmouth bass distribution and habitat overlap with juvenile Chinook salmon in the Willamette River, Oregon

James S. White, Tobias J. Kock, Brooke E. Penaluna, Stan Gregory, Josh Williams, Randy Wildman
  • General Environmental Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Chemistry


Smallmouth bass populations have expanded far beyond their native range and these predatory fish present a pervasive threat to native aquatic species throughout North America. In the western United States, smallmouth bass are now present in river and reservoir habitats where Pacific salmon are found and are considered a potential threat to salmon recovery in many locations. We conducted a study to determine if smallmouth bass are expanding their range in the mainstem Willamette River, Oregon, and developed a model to assess habitat overlap between smallmouth bass and juvenile Chinook salmon. Sampling during 2011–2022 revealed that the distribution of smallmouth bass had expanded throughout that timeframe to encompass the entire mainstem Willamette River, including important rearing habitats for juvenile Chinook salmon. The model predicted that smallmouth bass and juvenile Chinook salmon habitat overlap was substantial, highlighting the need for additional research to evaluate for potential negative impacts to salmon recovery in the basin. The model was also used to evaluate the efficacy of using flow management to reduce interactions between these two species, but the scenarios we examined suggested that this was not a viable option. These results highlight the need for continued research to assess interactions between smallmouth bass and juvenile salmon, and other native species of concern, in the Willamette River Basin. The development of the model is useful for resource managers to understand interactions between these species to prioritize locations for sampling in the future.

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