Salmon Forest

The Interconnections of Bears, Forests, and Salmon

Salmon Forest (A Children’s Book) Greystone Books
David Suzuki’s and Sarah Ellis’s informative text is accompanied by Sheena Lott’s exquisite watercolours, which evoke the spirit and mystery of the West Coast rain forest. Together, text and illustrations illuminate the interconnectedness of the forest and the sea.

Hocking, M. D. & T. E. Reimchen. 2002. Salmon-derived nitrogen in terrestrial invertebrates from coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest. BioMedCentral Ecology 2:4-14.

Reimchen, T. E.  D. Mathewson, M. D. Hocking, J. Moran and D. Harris. 2003. Isotopic evidence for enrichment of salmon-derived nutrients in vegetation, soil, and insects in riparian zones in coastal British Columbia. American Fisheries Society Symposium 34: 59-69.

Reimchen, T. E. 2001. Salmon nutrients, nitrogen isotopes, and coastal forests. Ecoforestry 16:13-17.


Dr. Tom Reimchen, based at the University of Victoria,  studies the interaction of salmon and bears in coastal forests.

Dr. Reimchen’s work has found that the presence of salmon in streams results in an increase in insect abundance adjacent to the stream. The insects are the basis for the food chain. Small fish eat them, birds eat them, amphibians and larger insects eat them.

Dr. Reimchen’s research uses the concept of “heavy nitrogen” to track the extent of ecosystem level changes that occur when salmon are lost from the habitat. The “heavy nitrogen” is an isotope of nitrogen used to track the cycling of nutrients derived from salmon through the food chain. The “heavy nitrogen” starts in the salmon and spreads throughout the forest.

Once the salmon are highlighted as “heavy nitrogen”, we can see how their bodies act as the fertilizers of the forest. The nutrients from the salmon left dead from spawning sustain every part of the ecosystems they touch.

Check out Tom Reimchen’s research on The Salmon Forest Project.

Posted by Megan Moser on 9/15