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Spatial distribution of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) breeders: among- and within-river variation and predicted consequences for offspring habitat availability

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Abstract:

The spatial distribution of breeders within populations may have important implications for offspring habitat availability in species where mobility of early life stages is restricted. Here we address this issue using time series of spawner distributions from eight Norwegian Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) populations. Whereas spawners distribute themselves uniformly along the length of the rivers in some populations, others show a heavily skewed distribution. Linear mixed models identified pronounced and temporally consistent among-population differences in spawner distributions. Using a model of limited juvenile dispersal from nests following emergence, we show that the observed spawner distributions are predicted to result in significant proportions of rivers being inaccessible for young of the year during early life stages, and the magnitude of this effect differs among populations (e.g., ranging from 27% to 59% for dispersal distance of 250m). Thus, assuming population regulation during early but not later juvenile stages, consistent differences in spawner distributions among populations such as those observed here may translate into differences in productivity (i.e., carrying capacity) as well as egg densities required for populations to reach their spawning targets.

La répartition spatiale de la reproduction au sein des populations peut avoir de sérieuses conséquences sur la disponibilité des habitats pour les rejetons, si la mobilité des premiers stades de vie de l'espèce est limitée. Nous examinons le problème à l'aide de séries chronologiques de la répartition des reproducteurs dans huit populations de saumons atlantiques (Salmo salar) de Norvège. Alors que les reproducteurs se répartissent de façon uniforme le long du cours des rivières dans certaines populations, d'autres populations ont une répartition fortement asymétrique. Des modèles linéaires de mélange révèlent des différences marquées et constantes dans le temps entre les populations dans la répartition des reproducteurs. Un modèle de dispersion limitée des jeunes au sortir des nids après leur émergence prédit que les répartitions observées des reproducteurs ont pour conséquence de rendre de grandes parties des rivières inaccessibles aux jeunes de l'année durant leurs premiers stades de vie; l'importance de cet effet varie d'une population à une autre (par ex., allant de 27% à 59% pour une distance de dispersion de 250m). Si on présume que la régulation de la population se fait durant les premiers stades juvéniles mais non durant les stades suivants, des différences constantes de répartition des reproducteurs entre les populations, comme celles signalée ici, peuvent entraîner des différences de productivité (c'est-à-dire, de stock limite) et de densités d'œufs nécessaires pour que les populations atteignent leurs cibles de fraie.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • 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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