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Synchrony in the downstream migration of smolts and upstream migration of adult Atlantic salmon in the subarctic River Utsjoki

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Seasonal and diel migration timing of wild Atlantic salmon Salmo salar smolts and adults were investigated annually (2001–2004) in the subarctic River Utsjoki, a tributary of the large River Teno (70° N), using underwater video monitoring. Submerged video cameras provided information on the exact timing and intensity of both migrations in a natural river channel, without disturbing the fish. In contrast to the mainly nocturnal migration pattern described from temperate rivers, the River Utsjoki smolts and adults migrated throughout the day. Smolts migrated most intensively during hours of rising (0300–0900 hours) and high sun (0900–1500 hours), while adults favoured the period of low sun (2100–0300 hours). Smolt migrations started in June and lasted on average 42 days. Adults usually ascended the site 2–3 weeks before the first descending smolts were observed and the adult migrations extended to the end of August. Seasonal synchrony was observed between smolt and adult migrations in years of slowly warming water, whereas in a year of exceptionally warm early summer (2002), smolts migrated earlier than adults. Thus, water temperature seemed to be an important environmental factor triggering the smolt migration, while the migration of adults was probably more fixed to a certain season. Weak positive correlations between fish counts and water temperature were observed, indicating that increasing water temperature may have promoted both smolt and adult migrations. The influence of discharge was negligible, although increasing discharge late in the season may have activated the remaining individuals in both groups.
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Keywords: Salmo salar; migration timing; subarctic; synchrony; video monitoring

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Department of Arctic Ecology, NINA Tromsø, Polar Environmental Centre, N-9296 Tromsø, Norway 2: Norwegian College of Fishery Science, University of Tromsø, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway

Publication date: 2007-12-01

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