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Failure of physiological metrics to predict dominance in juvenile Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.): habitat effects on the allometry of growth in dominance hierarchies1 1

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Territoriality is one of the best examples of interference competition and generally results in larger, dominant individuals gaining preferential access to food. However, the expectation of higher growth of dominant individuals among juvenile salmonids has received only mixed support. We used outdoor semi-natural stream channels stocked with varying sizes of young of the year juvenile salmonids under high and low food rations (i) to examine the mechanisms underlying variation in the benefits of dominance and (ii) to demonstrate that inconsistencies in the apparent benefits of dominance are a logical outcome of the allometry of growth and differential energy intake among fish of different size in a dominance hierarchy. Growth of dominants exceeded that of subordinates when food was abundant, but subordinates grew faster than dominants in low food treatments and when dominant fish increased in size and approached the capacity of their habitat. In general, size disparity within a dominance hierarchy may promote higher growth of subdominants because of the lower energetic requirements of smaller individuals, and the allometry of fish growth, relative to habitat capacity, can reverse the expected growth and condition of dominant and subordinate fish.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: British Columbia Ministry of the Environment, 2202 Main Mall, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada. 2: Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada.

Publication date: October 19, 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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