Sockeye carcasses tossed on shore over two decades spur tree growth

UW researchers walk along Hansen Creek in 2015.

For 20 years, dozens of University of Washington researchers have walked Hansen Creek — home to one of the densest sockeye salmon runs in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region — every day during spawning season, counting live salmon and recording information about the fish that died. After counting a dead fish — an inevitability here, either after spawning or in the paws of a brown bear — researchers throw it on shore to remove the carcass and not double-count it the next day. 

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