A review of iteroparity in anadromous salmonids: biology, threats and implications

Kim Birnie-Gauvin*, Xavier Bordeleau, Sindre H. Eldøy, Kristin Bøe, Martin L. Kristensen, Cecilie I. Nilsen, Robert J. Lennox

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewpeer-review


Iteroparity occurs when organisms reproduce more than once, and is seen as a bet-hedging reproductive strategy. Despite a wealth of research on iteroparous Atlantic salmon, steelhead, brown trout, and Arctic charr, the determinants of reproductive investment, the intra- and interspecific differences in the degree of iteroparity, the drivers of repeat spawning, and the contribution of repeat spawners to populations and sustainability remain unclear. In particular, the knowledge base is stronger for Atlantic salmon and brown trout, but relatively weak for Arctic charr and steelhead. While juveniles, maiden spawners and repeat spawners are facing similar challenges, many threats specific to the kelt stage are emerging (e.g., downstream migration passed barriers after spawning). Recent work has quantified the benefits of iteroparity for population resilience, and the potential for iteroparity to increase when anthropogenic stressors are mitigated. This is the first literature review paper synthetizing the growing knowledge base that exists on various aspects of the ecology and biology of repeat spawners in freshwater and at sea, the threats they face, the proximate and ultimate mechanisms underlying iteroparity in salmonids, the importance of iteroparity for population-level processes, as well as highlighting pressing areas of research. Collectively, this work offers a valuable resource to fisheries scientists and managers by shedding light on an important life-history stage that warrants more attention to mitigate these threats and restore healthy wild salmonid populations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries
Pages (from-to)1005-1025
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Alternate spawner
  • Arctic charr
  • Atlantic salmon
  • Brown trout
  • Consecutive spawner
  • Migration
  • Repeat spawning
  • Steelhead


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