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Diel vertical distribution of early marine phase juvenile pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) and behaviour when exposed to salmon louse (Lepeophtheirus salmonis)

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We observed diel vertical migration patterns in juvenile pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha (Walbaum, 1792)) and tested the hypothesis that fish behaviour is altered by exposure to sea lice copepodids. Experiments involved replicated field deployments of a large (9 m) plankton column, which provided a vertical distribution enclosure under natural light and salinity conditions. Diel vertical distributions of juvenile pink salmon were observed during the first 3 weeks of seawater acclimation in both the presence and the absence of the ectoparasitic salmon louse (Lepeophtheirus salmonis (Krøyer, 1838)). Immediately upon entering seawater, juvenile pink salmon preferred the top 1 m of the water column, but they moved significantly deeper down the vertical water column as seawater acclimation time increased. A significant diel migration pattern was observed, which involved a preference for the surface at night-time, compared with daytime. When fish in the column were exposed to L. salmonis copepodids for 3 h, 43%–62% of fish became infected, fish expanded their vertical distribution range, and significant changes in vertical distribution patterns were observed.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, The University of British Columbia, 6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada. 2: Earth and Ocean Sciences, The University of British Columbia, 6339 Stores Road, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada. 3: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Ecosystem Research Division, P.O. Box 1006, Dartmouth, NS B2Y 4A2, Canada.

Publication date: 2011-09-24

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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