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Geographical differences in marine feeding of Atlantic salmon post‐smolts in Norwegian fjords

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Stomach content analyses were conducted on Atlantic salmon Salmo salar post‐smolt (average size, 119–154 mm fork length, L F) caught in eight large Norwegian fjord systems along a north–south geographical axis during 1998–2001. In general, post‐smolts from southern Norway showed low feeding intensity in the fjords, whereas extensive feeding was observed in fjords in the northern and middle parts of Norway. The marine diet mainly included different crustaceans and in particular marine pelagic fish larvae (sand‐eels Ammodytes spp., herring Clupea harengus and gadoids), but with a substantial spatial and annual variation in prey diversity and feeding intensity. Insects were most frequently taken in the estuary, although fishes often made a large contribution in mass. In contrast, fishes, and to some extent various crustaceans (particularly Hyperiidae, Gammaridae, Euphausiacea and Copepoda) dominated the diet in the middle and outer parts of the fjords, where post‐smolts also fed more extensively than in the inner part. The results indicate that extensive feeding immediately after sea entrance may be more common for post‐smolts in the northern and middle parts of Norway, than in the southern fjords. The observed differences in post‐smolt feeding may be due to spatial and temporal differences in prey availability within and between the different types of fjord systems, and this might influence post‐smolt growth and survival.

Document Type: Regular Paper


Publication date: June 1, 2004


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