Inter-river, -annual and -seasonal variability in fecundity of Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., in rivers in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Fecundity is an integral component of the calculation of Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., egg depositions in rivers. Fecundity determinations can be time consuming and prohibitively expensive in terms of application on a broad scale. Consequently, where river specific and annual data are not available, default means are used in calculations in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is important therefore to know the extent of variability among rivers, years and seasons and the potential error involved in using default values. Annual fecundity data were available for one river in Labrador and nine rivers in Newfoundland. Fecundity was determined from ovaries collected in the recreational fishery in the summer for all 10 rivers. For three of these rivers, fecundity determined from summer sampling was compared with that obtained from sampling at time of spawning in autumn. There was significant variability in fecundity with length as a covariate among rivers, years and seasons. Mean number of eggs per female decreased between 8.3% and 29.0% from summer to autumn while mean number of eggs per cm decreased from 5.0% to 28.5%. Depending on the measure of relative fecundity used (no. of eggs kg−1 or no. of eggs cm−1), results of simulations showed that estimates of egg deposition incorporating defaults can deviate from those obtained by applying year-specific and river-specific values by 50–75%, without adjusting for the seasonal reduction in fecundity, and by 30–50% with an adjustment. A sensitivity analysis revealed that of three parameters used in the calculation of egg deposition (size, percent female and fecundity), fecundity was the most influential.