Prey selection and efficiency of naïve and experienced juvenile sockeye salmon
Prey selection and growth efficiency of juvenile sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka switched between live prey and pelleted diets were investigated. First feeding sockeye salmon fry were placed into one of three dietary treatments for 7 months prior to assessing potential differences with a growth and a behavioural assay. Dietary treatments were (1) adult Artemia franciscana for 1 month, followed by pelleted feed for an additional 6 months (Art− BD), (2) pelleted feed from first feeding for 7 months (BD) and (3) adult A. franciscana for 1 month, and a combination of pelleted feed and live adult A. franciscana for 6 months (Art+ BD). Equal numbers from each treatment group were then tagged, pooled into replicate ‘common garden’ tanks and fed novel live prey items (Daphnia sp. and mosquito Culex pipiens larvae) for an additional 3 weeks. No significant differences in the growth efficiency of sockeye salmon were found during the 3 week feeding trial on the novel prey items. Additional sockeye salmon from each dietary treatment were used in a behavioural assay to determine if the treatments had an impact on foraging efficiency (prey selection or time to capture prey). No significant differences in prey selection were found among treatment groups in time to capture pellets, A. franciscana or mosquito larvae. Also, no significant differences were found within treatment groups in time to capture different food sources. No substantive benefits in foraging efficiency of sockeye salmon associated with prior exposure to live prey were demonstrated. This suggests that altering existing hatchery practices for juvenile sockeye salmon by offering live food prior to release is unlikely to influence post-hatchery feeding behaviour or increase post-release survival.
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