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Morphological differences in parr of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar from three regions in Norway

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Morphological characters were compared in parr (total length 33–166 mm) of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar sampled from eight wild populations in three regions, three in northern, two in the middle and three in southern Norway, covering a distance of 1700 km (from 70° N to 58° N). On the basis of morphological characters 94·6% of the individuals were correctly classified into the three regions. Discrimination between populations within these three regions also had a high degree of correct classification (89·0–95·8%). Principle component analysis identified largest differences to be in head characters, notably eye diameter and jawbone, with the smallest diameter and head size among the northernmost populations. Fish from the southern rivers had a deeper body form whereas fish from the middle region had larger heads and pectoral fins. This illustrates that S. salar already in the early parr stage has morphological traits, which can be used in discrimination between regions and populations and that these differences are discernible in spite of the volume of escaped farmed fish spawning in Norwegian rivers during the past 30 years.

Keywords: evolutionary significant units; local adaptation; phenotypic plasticity; polymorphism; population specific

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Department of Biology, Realfagbygget, Norwegian University of Science and Technology NTNU, 7491 Trondheim, Norway

Publication date: May 1, 2011


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