Terrestrial and semi-aquatic scavengers on invasive Pacific pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) carcasses in a riparian ecosystem in northern Norway.
Pacific pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) invasions, thought to originate from populations introduced and established in Russia, occurred along the Norwegian coast in 2017 and 2019. Despite several thousand pink salmon entering and establishing in northern Norwegian rivers, current understanding of the ecological effect of the species in northern Europe is limited. Scavengers feeding on pacific salmon carcasses are important vectors for the transport of marine derived energy and nutrients to terrestrial ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest, North America, where the salmon naturally occur. However the role of terrestrial and aquatic scavengers in the consumption and removal of pink salmon beyond the salmon's native range is unknown. This study has identified terrestrial and sub-aquatic vertebrate scavengers on pink salmon carcasses in a sub-arctic river in northern Norway. Avian scavengers filmed by a camera placed near sites baited with pink salmon carcasses included the Eurasian magpie (Pica pica), hooded crow (Corvus cornix), common raven (Corvus corax), the European herring gull (Larus argentatus), redwing (Turdus iliacus) and goosander (Mergus merganser). However, the largest carcass weight was removed by red foxes (Vulpes vulpes). Carcasses entering Vesterelv River in 2019 were estimated to provide energy and nutrients to the river ecosystem an order of magnitude lower than in the Pacific Northwest. This study provides some of the first information in northern Europe on the mechanisms and quantification of energy and nutrient transfer from the ocean to riparian environments via introduced Pacific pink salmon. Results help to begin to determine the ecological effect of pink salmon and the development of appropriate management strategies.