Drifters versus residents: assessing size and age differences in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) fry

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Abstract:

Some young-of-the-year Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) have a tendency to drift soon after emergence from the gravel, whereas others, called resident fry, set up and defend territories. Little is known about the mechanisms regulating this strong tendency to drift soon after emergence, a phenomenon that can greatly influence survival within a population. This study was carried out in the Western Brook system, Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, Canada. The objective was to assess differences, through biometric characteristics, between drifting and resident Atlantic salmon fry by examining both groups of fish caught simultaneously in the same riverine habitat. Resident salmon fry can be up to 4.8% longer and 20.4% heavier compared with drifting fry of similar age (measured in days since emergence). Therefore, it seems that competition, more than prior residence effect, could be part of the driving forces behind this active movement and that differences between subpopulations of Atlantic salmon fry can have major repercussions on life history patterns.

Certains des jeunes saumons de l'Atlantique (Salmo salar) de l'année ont tendance à dériver peu après leur émergence du gravier, alors que d'autres, les alevins résidants, établissent et défendent des territoires. On connaît peu les mécanismes responsables de cette forte propension à la dérive peu après l'émergence, un phénomène qui peut grandement influencer la survie au sein de la population. Notre étude a été réalisée dans le système hydrographique de Western Brook, parc national du Gros Morne, Terre-Neuve, Canada. Son objectif était d'évaluer les différences dans les données biométriques entre les alevins du saumon de l'Atlantique qui dérivent et ceux qui restent sur place en comparant les deux groupes de poissons capturés simultanément dans le même habitat de rivière. Les alevins résidants peuvent être jusqu'à 4,8 % plus longs et 20.4 % plus lourds que les alevins de même âge (jours depuis l'émergence) en dérive. Il semble donc que la compétition, plus que l'effet de première occupation, puisse être l'un des facteurs explicatifs importants de ce déplacement actif et que des différences entre les sous-populations d'alevins du saumon de l'Atlantique puissent avoir des répercussions majeures sur la structure du cycle biologique.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 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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