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Stable isotope profiles of partially migratory salmonid populations in Atlantic rivers of Patagonia

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In the present study, profiles of stable isotope composition were characterized for two species with partially migratory populations in rivers along the latitudinal gradient of Patagonia, brown trout Salmo trutta and rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss. The effects of factors (e.g. ontogeny of fishes, location, species and fasting) that may influence the stable isotope analysis (SIA) were evaluated, as was SIA evaluated as a tool to assign individual fish to their corresponding ecotype. Anadromous fishes exhibited enriched 15N (15·2 ± 1·0‰; mean ±s.d.) and 13C (−19·2 ± 1·3‰) relative to resident fishes’15N (8·8 ± 1·1‰) and 13C (−23·2 ± 2·5‰). For both species, the difference in 15N was larger between resident (range 6·8–10·7‰) and anadromous (range 14·3–17·8‰) fishes than that in 13C. Values of 13C, while not as dramatically contrasting in rainbow trout, provided a powerful anadromy marker for brown trout in the region. Increases were found in both 15N and 13C during the spawning migration of anadromous rainbow trout, most likely due to fasting. Differences in stable isotopes between location, size and species were found, suggesting different stable isotopes base levels in freshwater environments and different trophic levels and feeding location of anadromous populations. The SIA was demonstrated as a powerful tool for ecotype discrimination in Patagonian Rivers, overriding any effect of sampling location, size or species.

Keywords: Patagonia; anadromy; salmon; stable isotope analysis

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Laboratorio de Ecología, FCEyN, UNMdP and CONICET, CC 573, Correo Central, B7600WAG, Mar del Plata, Argentina 2: Subsecretaria de Pesca y Actividades Portuarias de Santa Cruz, Avellaneda 801, CP Río Gallegos 9400, Santa Cruz, Argentina 3: Flathead Lake Biological Station, The University of Montana, Polson, Montana, U.S.A. 4: Centro Nacional Patagónico, CONICET, Blvd Brown S/N, Puerto Madryn, 9120, Chubut, Argentina

Publication date: 2008-05-01

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