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Effects of spawning distribution on juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) density and growth

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We test whether the spatial distribution of spawning sites in a natural population is related to the density and individual growth rate of juvenile stream-dwelling salmonids. For this purpose, fine-scale data on the spatial distribution of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) nest sites, juvenile densities and body size, and habitat characteristics were combined. The area of nests summed over reaches of 25m in length was positively correlated with local young-of-the-year (YOY) densities and was the strongest predictor of local densities. In turn, increased YOY densities were related to slower growth, and YOY density was the strongest predictor of YOY size. Measured habitat variables had little effect on YOY density over the spatial scale examined, which suggests that redistribution of YOY salmon according to habitat preferences was limited. The distribution of spawning sites was therefore the best predictor of local densities and subsequently YOY growth. Thus, during the YOY stage when dispersal is limited, patchy spawning distributions combined with local density-dependence may be the dominant factor responsible for spatial variation in growth.

Nous vérifions si la répartition spatiale des sites de fraie dans une population naturelle est reliée à la densité et au taux de croissance individuelle des jeunes salmonidés d'eau courante. Pour ce faire, nous avons combiné des données à échelle fine sur la répartition spatiale des sites de nidification de saumons atlantiques (Salmo salar), sur les densités et les tailles corporelles des jeunes et sur les caractéristiques de l'habitat. Il existe une corrélation positive entre la surface cumulée des nids sur des sections de 25m de longueur et la densité locale des jeunes de l'année (YOY); c'est la meilleure variable prédictive des densités locales. Par ailleurs, les densités accrues de YOY sont reliées à une croissance ralentie et la densité des YOY est la meilleure variable prédictive de la taille des YOY. Les variables mesurées de l'habitat ont peu d'effet sur la densité des YOY à l'échelle spatiale considérée, ce qui laisse croire qu'il y a une redistribution limitée des saumons YOY d'après leurs préférences d'habitat. La répartition des sites de fraie est donc la meilleure variable prédictive des densités locales et subséquemment de la croissance des YOY. Ainsi, durant le stade YOY pendant lequel la dispersion est limitée, la répartition contagieuse de la fraie, combinée à une densité-dépendance locale, peut être le principal facteur responsable de la variation spatiale de la croissance.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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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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