Spatial and temporal variation in length‐at‐age and environmental factors affecting variation in growth rate of juvenile Atlantic salmon Salmo salar were studied using data from a long‐term study in the River Stjørdalselva, central Norway. Mean annual instantaneous growth rate among 1+ and 2+year juvenile Atlantic salmon varied between 0·59 and 1·50 g g−1 year−1 and mean instantaneous daily growth rate of young‐of‐the‐year (YOY) varied between 0·013 and 0·033 g g−1 day−1. Between year variation in growth was larger than the within year intra‐watercourse spatial variation. For YOY and 1+year Atlantic salmon, a major part of the observed between year variation in growth rates was explained by variation in mean daily water discharge and spring temperature. For 2+year juvenile Atlantic salmon, mean daily water discharge and cohort density were the only variables to significantly explain variation in growth rates. A large part of the within water‐course spatial variation could not be explained by temperature variations and juvenile Atlantic salmon in the uppermost areas of the river, experiencing the lowest ambient temperatures during the growth period, displayed the highest growth rates. Within the baselines set by temperature, biotic and abiotic factors connected to water flow regime and variation in food availability are suggested to be a major determinants of the temporal and spatial variation in juvenile Atlantic salmon growth rates.
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