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Food partitioning between coexisting Atlantic salmon and brook trout in the Sainte‐Marguerite River ecosystem, Quebec

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Food resource partitioning between similar‐sized, sympatric Atlantic salmon Salmo salar and brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis was examined as a possible mechanism enabling their coexistence in a stream (Allaire) of the Sainte‐Marguerite River ecosystem, Quebec, Canada. Fish stomach contents and invertebrate drift were collected concurrently during three diel cycles in August to September 1996. The food and feeding habits of an allopatric brook trout population in a nearby stream (Epinette) were studied for comparison. The diel feeding rhythms of the two coexisting fish species were similar. The composition of their diet, however, showed significant differences. Atlantic salmon predominantly (60–90%) fed on aquatic insects, mainly Ephemeroptera (35–60% of the diet). The brook trout mostly (50–80%) fed upon the allochthonous terrestrial insects (mainly adults of Coleoptera, Hymenoptera and Diptera) which comprised 5–40% of the stream drift. The allopatric brook trout fed opportunistically on the more abundant aquatic insects and terrestrial insects rarely formed 25% of its diet. The allopatric trout fed nearly twice as much as the sympatric brook trout during a day. The results suggest that the differences in feeding by brook trout in the two streams (with and without Atlantic salmon) are the result of inter‐specific interaction with Atlantic salmon and are not related to the differences in food availability between the two streams. Food resource partitioning between Atlantic salmon and brook trout may be viewed as an adaptive response resulting in a greater exploitation of available resources and coexistence.
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Keywords: Atlantic salmon; brook trout; competition; drift; prey selection; resource partitioning

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Université de Montréal, Département de sciences biologiques C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-ville, Montréal (QC), H3C 3J7, Canada and 2: ‡Centre Interuniversitaire de Recherche sur le Saumon Atlantique (CIRSA), Sacré-Coeur (QC), G0T 1Y0, Canada

Publication date: 2004-03-01

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