Feeding pattern and diet of first feeding brown trout fry under natural conditions
The feeding habits of brown trout Salmo trutta fry were studied during the critical first feeding period in a natural spawning and nursery stream. A low proportion of the fry initiated exogenous feeding before emergence from the gravel, and while having nearly 30% of the yolk sac remaining. This probably reflected low feeding motivation or limited feeding opportunities within the gravel environment. The majority of the fry started feeding after emergence, and after most or all yolk was absorbed. Some fry emerged with large amounts of yolk remaining, while others emerged after yolk exhaustion. The degree of stomach fullness revealed that feeding was more efficient after a territory had been acquired. The diets of the young fry were dominated by chironomid larvae, followed by zooplankton and Plecoptera larvae. Fry dispersing downstream and out of the nursery area were significantly smaller than resident fry, indicating displacement due to competition for territories. The majority of the downstream dispersing fry had initiated feeding, and there was at this point no evidence of starvation in any of the fry. It therefore appeared that the later emerging fry actively migrated out of the overpopulated nursery area to find available territories further downstream.
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