Upper Thermal Tolerance Indicated by CTmax Fails to Predict Migration Strategy and Timing, Growth, and Predation Vulnerability in Juvenile Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)

J. E. Desforges, K. Birnie-Gauvin, K. Aarestrup, S. J. Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Partial migration is common in a variety of taxa and has important ecological and evolutionary implications, yet the underlying factors that lead to different migratory strategies are not clearly understood. Given the importance of temperature in serving as a cue for migration, along with its role in regulating metabolism, growth, reproduction, and survival, we examined how intraspecific variation in critical thermal maximum (CTmax) values influenced migratory strategy (residency vs. migration), timing of migration, growth, and predation vulnerability in a wild population of partially anadromous juvenile brown trout (Salmo trutta). Using passive integrated transponder telemetry and mark-recapture techniques, we identified individuals that out-migrated to sea, assumed residency, and were predated by cormorants several months later. Acute thermal stress induced by conducting CTmax trials did not affect the final fate of assayed fish compared with controls. We found that mass and body condition predicted CTmax and migration timing, but CTmax failed to predict migratory strategy or timing, growth (of resident fish), or predation vulnerability. Although there may be links between mass, thermal tolerance, and migration strategy, the relationship between CTmax and migration remains unclear. The role of upper thermal tolerance in influencing life-history strategies should not be neglected, however, as alternative indicators of thermal tolerance could be further explored. The high degree of variation in CTmax estimates warrants additional investigation of how increasingly prevalent high-temperature events might drive selection toward thermally tolerant extremes, which is particularly relevant in a rapidly warming world.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)215-227
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Salmo trutta
  • Brown trout
  • CCritical thermal maximum (CTmax)
  • Intraspecific upper thermal tolerance
  • Partial migration
  • Resident
  • Migrant


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