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Effects of species, culture history, size and residency on relative competitive ability of salmonids

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The relative competitive ability of juvenile farm and wild salmonids was investigated to provide insight into the potential effects of introduction of cultured salmon on wild Pacific salmonid (Oncorhynchus) species. Aquarium experiments involving equal contests (i.e. size matched, simultaneously introduced individuals) indicated that two wild coho salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch populations were competitively equal to a farm coho salmon population. In equal contests between farm Atlantic salmon Salmo salar (Mowi strain) and these wild coho salmon populations or coastal cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarki clarki, Atlantic salmon were subordinate in all cases. When Atlantic salmon were given a residence advantage, however, they were competitively equal to both wild coho salmon populations, but remained subordinate to coastal cutthroat trout. When Atlantic salmon were given a 10–30% length advantage, they were competitively equal to one wild coho salmon population but remained subordinate to the other. In equal contests in semi-natural stream channels, both wild coho and farm Atlantic salmon grew significantly more in the presence of the other species than when alone. It appears that coho salmon obtain additional food ration by out competing Atlantic salmon, whereas Atlantic salmon were stimulated to feed more in the presence of coho salmon competitors. These results suggest that wild coho salmon and cutthroat trout should out compete farm Atlantic salmon of a similar size in nature. As the relative competitive ability of Atlantic salmon improves when they have a size and residence advantage, should feral populations become established, they may exist on a more equal competitive footing owing to the long freshwater residence of Atlantic salmon.

Keywords: Atlantic salmon; coho salmon; competition; culture; cutthroat trout; farm salmon

Document Type: Regular Paper

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8649.2006.01124.x

Affiliations: Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia, 1933 West Mall, Vancouver, B.C., V6T 1Z2, Canada

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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