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Social learning of prey location in hatchery-reared Atlantic salmon

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Naïve, hatchery-reared Atlantic salmon Salmo salar parr were paired with demonstrators that had been pre-trained to accept live prey from the surface or from the benthos. After 6 days of observing demonstrators through a clear perspex partition the naïve fish's benthic foraging skills were tested. The results revealed that hatchery-reared Atlantic salmon can be taught to target benthic prey items by observation alone and social learning protocols can be utilized to dramatically increase benthic foraging success. The results are discussed with reference to refining hatchery-rearing practices with a view to improving the post-release survival of hatchery fishes. The role of learning, and in particular social learning, in the development foraging behaviour is highlighted.

Keywords: Atlantic salmon; benthos; hatchery; prey location; social learning

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Sub-Department of Animal Behaviour, University of Cambridge, Madingley UK, CB3 8AA, U.K.

Publication date: 2003-09-01

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