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Contrasting patterns of territoriality and foraging mode in two stream-dwelling salmonids, Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) and brown trout (Salmo trutta)

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Territoriality and foraging behaviour play major roles in determining the abundance and distribution of mobile animals. To date, territorial behaviour of young-of-the-year (YOY) salmonids is typically described for sit-and-wait individuals that defend territories from one foraging station, but rarely for more mobile fish. We examined the territorial behaviour and foraging mode of 31 YOY Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) and 30 YOY brown trout (Salmo trutta) in relation to ecological factors in six rivers in northern Iceland. Arctic char used larger territories than brown trout, corresponding with high and low mobility prior to attacking prey, respectively. Within species, more mobile fish also used larger territories. Territory size increased with body size and declined with increased food abundance as predicted, but surprisingly increased with rising intruder pressure. Finally, Arctic char territories overlapped more and were less exclusively defended than brown trout territories. This study shows that territories of mobile individuals may not always pertain to the same rules as single central-place territories and highlights that territorial behaviour, and its role in population regulation, may vary between salmonid species.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Hólar University College, Háeyri 1, Sauðárkrókur IS-550, Iceland.

Publication date: December 23, 2011

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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