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The marine temperature and depth preferences of Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) and sea trout (Salmo trutta), as recorded by data storage tags

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Eleven Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) (370–512 mm) and eight sea trout (Salmo trutta) (370–585 mm in length) were tagged externally or internally with depth- and temperature-measuring data-storage tags (DST) before they were released into the sea in the Alta Fjord in north Norway in June 2002. All sea trout were recaptured after they spent 1–40 days at sea, while all Arctic charr were recaptured after 0.5–33 days at sea. On average, trout preferred water about 0.6 m deeper and 1.3°C warmer than Arctic charr. Arctic charr spent >50% of their time between 0 and 1 m depth, while trout spent >50% of their time between 1 and 2 m depth. Both species spent >90% of their time in water no deeper than 3 m from the water surface. However, sea trout dove more frequently and to greater depths (max. 28 m) than Arctic charr (max. 16 m), and these deep dives were most frequently performed at the end of the sea migration. Arctic charr demonstrated a diel diving pattern, staying on average about 0.5 m deeper between 08:00 hours and about 15:00 hours than during the rest of the 24 h, even though there was continuous daylight during the experiments. When comparing data obtained from the DSTs with temperature measurements within the fjord system, the two species were observed to select different feeding areas during their sea migration, the sea trout choosing the inner and warmer parts of the fjord, in contrast to the Arctic charr that preferred the outer, colder parts of the fjord. The observed differences in migration behaviour between the two species are discussed in relation to species preferences for prey and habitat selection, and their optimal temperatures for growth.

Keywords: anadromy; archival tag; behaviour; brown trout; data-storage tag; life history; migration; optimal temperature

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Tungasletta 2, N-7485 Trondheim, Norway 2: Freshwater Biological Association, The Ferry House, Far Sawrey, Ambelside, Cumbria, UK 3: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, P.O. Box 5667, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada A1C 5X1 4: Salmon and Trout, P.O. Box 280, IS – 270 Mosfellsbaer, Iceland

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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