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Food consumption and growth of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar parr in sub-Arctic rivers: empirical support for food limitation and competition

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The quantitative food consumption and somatic growth of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar parr were compared between three sub-Arctic rivers in northern Norway and Finland, addressing the potential occurrence of resource limitation and interspecific competition. In one of the rivers, previous resource partitioning studies have suggested severe dietary competition between juvenile S. salar and a dense population of alpine bullheads Cottus poecilopus. It was hypothesized that S. salar parr in this river would have restricted food consumption and growth rates compared to the S. salar populations in the other two rivers where interspecific competition was less likely to occur. The feeding and growth performance differed significantly between the S. salar populations. The lowest food acquisition and growth rates were in the S. salar parr population living in sympatry with C. poecilopus, confirming a restricted food supply for the S. salar parr and providing empirical support for the presence of resource limitation and interspecific food competition in this river system. The study reveals that S. salar parr in sub-Arctic rivers may experience food limitations resulting in diminished growth rates.
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Keywords: Salmo salar; feeding; interspecific interactions; juvenile salmon; resource limitations; somatic growth

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Department of Aquatic BioSciences, Norwegian College of Fishery Science, University of Tromsø, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway

Publication date: 01 July 2008

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