Comparison of the riverine and early marine migration behaviour and survival of wild and hatchery-reared sea trout Salmo trutta smolts

Kim Aarestrup, Henrik Baktoft, Anders Koed, Diego Del Villar, Eva B. Thorstad

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The seaward migration of wild (n = 61) and hatchery-reared (n = 46) sea trout smolts was investigated in the Danish River Gudenaa and Randers Fjord (17.3 and 28.6 km stretch, respectively) using acoustic telemetry. Their riverine and early marine migration was monitored by deploying automatic listening stations (ALS) at four locations in the river and fjord. Migration speeds were approximately three to eleven times faster in the river than in the early marine environment. Hatchery-reared smolts migrated faster than wild smolts, but the difference was small, especially compared to the large differences in migration speeds among habitats. There was no difference in the diurnal activity pattern between wild and hatchery-reared smolts. Both the riverine and early marine migration activity was primarily nocturnal, although some individuals were also recorded by the ALSs during daytime. The survival of the wild smolts was 1.8 and 2.9 times higher than that of the hatchery-reared smolts in the two study years, respectively, from release in the river to the outermost marine ALS site, 46 km from the release site. Overall, survival from release to the outermost ALS site was 79% for wild and 39% for hatchery-reared smolts. Since the lower survival of the hatchery-reared compared to the wild smolts could not be explained by differences in migration speeds or diurnal migration patterns, behavioural differences on a smaller scale than those recorded in the present study may explain the difference in survival
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Pages (from-to)197-206
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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