Spring migrating sea trout juveniles can be classified as parr, pre-smolt or smolt based on body morphology and osmoregulatory capacity. In this respect, parr are assumed to be less prepared for a marine life and to have lower survival at sea than pre-smolts and smolts. However, the behaviour and survival of these trout phenotypes upon entering the sea is not well known. Using passive integrated transponder telemetry, this study found that the return rate from the sea to the natal river was higher for parr compared to pre-smolts and smolts. Additionally, trout classified as parr generally migrated earlier to the sea and a larger proportion returned to the river after less than one year at sea. The daily mortality rate at sea was comparable among the different phenotypes of trout, suggesting that the higher proportion of returning parr to the river was linked to their shorter duration at sea. These results provide evidence of different life-history strategies for seaward-migrating juvenile sea trout, ultimately affecting their return rate to the natal river. Investigations failing to consider downstream migrating parr and pre-smolts risks neglecting a large part of the anadromous population and may result in inaccurate assessments of sea trout stocks in rivers.
- Animal migration
- Behavioural ecology