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Temporal variability in marine feeding of sympatric Arctic charr and sea trout

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The marine feeding pattern of anadromous brown trout (sea trout) Salmo trutta and Arctic charr Salvelinus alpinus was studied during June to August in 1992–1993 and 2000–2004 in a fjord in northern Norway. In general sea trout fed proportionally more on fishes than on crustaceans and insects (81, 1 and 18% by mass, respectively) by comparison with Arctic charr (52, 25 and 22% by mass, respectively). Herring Clupea harengus dominated the total fish diet of both species, but the Arctic charr also fed significantly on gadoids and sandlance Ammodytes spp. While sea trout became virtually all piscivorous at fork lengths (LF) ≥250 mm, the Arctic charr was ≥400 mm LF before shifting totally to a fish diet. Despite annual variation in diet and forage ratios, there was a clear shift in diet from 1992–1993 to 2000–2004. Sandlance and different crustaceans constituted most of the diet during the initial period with a shift towards gadoids and especially herring during the latter period. This shift seemed to be associated with a high abundance of herring larvae during the latter sampling period, indicating a preferential selection on herring when present, particularly by sea trout. Furthermore, an index indicated dietary overlap in years with intensive feeding on herring of both species, and usually differences in the trophic ecology during years feeding mostly on other prey species. In combination, it was hypothesized that the two species reflect the type of marine prey present within a fjord system over time, and therefore provide an index of variation in the production and biological diversity of their potential prey within fjords.
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Keywords: anadromy; brown trout; diet; life history; marine biology; salmonides

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Box 5667, St. John’s, Newfoundland, A1C 5X1, Canada 2: Norwegian College of Fishery Science, University of Tromsø, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway 3: Norwegian Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture, N-9291 Tromsø, Norway 4: Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Tungasletta 2, N-7485 Trondheim, Norway

Publication date: 2007-03-01

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