Salmon Cycle

In the Pacific Northwest, trees snack on salmon.

1. It begins with the salmon's life journey. Born in the cool drift of shaded freshwater creeks, salmon swim out to the open ocean to grow and mature. After several years, they return to the waters of their birthplace during the autumn months to spawn. This is called the salmon run.

2. For bears and other predators, the return of the salmon is a time for feasting. Bears often carry our salmon catch into the forest to feed, scattering bits of fish carcasses along the forest floor. Scavengers such as eagles, wolves and inspects swoop in, consuming the rest.

3. Salmon are rich with a distinct form of nitrogen, an important nutritional element which promotes plant growth. The forest soil absorbs some of the nitrogen from the fish carcass, as well as from the predators' excrement and urine.

4. Scientists have determined that for some tree species, up to 80 percent of their nitrogen intake can be traced back to salmon.

5. Thanks to all that extra nitrogen, these trees grow tall and thick along the riverbanks. There, they shade and cool the water, making it an ideal temperature for salmon to spawn in, and the relationship comes full circle.

- courtesy of beside magazine