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Seasonal and ontogenetic patterns in the migration of anadromous brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis)

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Migration patterns of brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis) from the Sainte-Marguerite River, Québec, Canada, were investigated to explore the hypothesis that migratory behaviour changes according to size during the critical period of first downstream migration, when survival is likely to be related to size, and during subsequent seasonal movements. We hypothesized that as fish grow, they should adopt more conservative behaviours to protect the reproductive assets that they have accumulated. First downstream migration occurred over a month in spring. Larger juvenile charr migrated early, whereas smaller charr seemed to delay offshore migration. As predicted, migratory patterns of charr changed through ontogeny. Sea age 0 juveniles stayed in estuarine areas until October and overwintered outside their natal river. Sea age 1 juveniles returned to their natal river earlier in the fall and some of them overwintered there. Adults (some sea age 1 migrants and older migrants) undertook their upstream migration to spawning areas from July to September, larger ones migrating earlier than smaller ones. Postspawners migrated downstream after reproduction or overwintered in the river. Environmental differences related to geographical location may be responsible for the variation of migration patterns and other life-history traits observed among brook charr populations, emphasizing the co-evolution of anadromy and life history.

Les patrons de migration de l'omble de fontaine (Salvelinus fontinalis) de la rivière Sainte-Marguerite, Québec, Canada, ont été étudiés dans le but d'explorer l'hypothèse selon laquelle le comportement migrateur change en fonction de la taille lors de la période critique de la première dévalaison, où la survie est susceptible de dépendre de la taille, mais aussi lors des mouvements saisonniers ultérieurs car, au fur et à mesure que les poissons grandissent, ils devraient adopter des comportements de plus en plus prudents pour protéger les atouts reproductifs qu'ils ont accumulés. La première dévalaison se déroulait sur un mois, au printemps, mais les migrants les plus grands descendaient la rivière en premier tandis que les plus petits semblaient retarder leur migration vers le large. Tel que prédit, les patrons de migration des ombles changeaient au cours de leur ontogénie. Les juvéniles d'âge en mer 0 restaient en estuaire jusqu'en octobre et passaient l'hiver hors de leur rivière natale. Les juvéniles d'âge en mer 1 regagnaient leur rivière natale plus tôt à l'automne et une partie d'entre eux passaient l'hiver là. Les adultes (une partie des migrants d'âge en mer 1 et les migrants d'âge en mer supérieur) entreprenaient leur migration vers les sites de fraie de juillet à septembre, les plus grands plus tôt que les plus petits. Les géniteurs dévalaient à nouveau après la reproduction ou passaient l'hiver en rivière. Les différences environnementales associées à la situation géographique peuvent expliquer les variations des patrons de migrations et du cycle vital qui sont observées entre les populations d'ombles de fontaine, mettant en évidence l'évolution conjointe du comportement anadrome et du cycle vital.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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