Predicting how environmental conditions and smolt body length when entering the marine environment impact individual Atlantic salmon Salmo salar adult return rates - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Journal of Fish Biology Year : 2022

Predicting how environmental conditions and smolt body length when entering the marine environment impact individual Atlantic salmon Salmo salar adult return rates

Abstract

Populations of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar have experienced precipitous declines in abundance since the 1970s. This decline has been associated with reduced numbers of adult salmon returning to fresh water from their marine migration, i.e., their marine return rates (MRR). Thus, understanding the factors that affect MRR is of crucial conservation importance. The authors used a state-space model with a 13-year time series of individually tagged salmon mark-recapture histories on the River Frome, southern England, to test the effect of smolt body length on their MRR. In addition to smolt length, the model tested for the influence of environmental covariates that were representative of the conditions experienced by the smolts in the early stages of their seaward migration, i.e., from the lower river to the estuary exit. The model indicated that, even when accounting for environmental covariates, smolt body length was an important predictor of MRR. Although larger smolts have a higher probability of returning to their natal river as adults than smaller smolts, and one-sea-winter salmon have a survival rate twice as high as multi-sea-winter salmon, the actual biological mechanisms underpinning this phenomenon remain uncertain. These results have important applications for salmon conservation, as efforts to bolster salmon populations in the freshwater environment should consider methods to improve smolt quality (i.e., body size) as well as smolt quantity.

Dates and versions

hal-03760745 , version 1 (25-08-2022)

Identifiers

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Olivia Meredith Simmons, J. Robert Britton, Phillipa Gillingham, Marie Nevoux, William Riley, et al.. Predicting how environmental conditions and smolt body length when entering the marine environment impact individual Atlantic salmon Salmo salar adult return rates. Journal of Fish Biology, 2022, 101 (2), pp.378-388. ⟨10.1111/jfb.14946⟩. ⟨hal-03760745⟩
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