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

Simmons, O.M., Britton, J. R., Gillingham, P.K., Nevoux, M., Riley, W. D., Rivot, E. and Gregory, S.D., 2021. 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. (In Press)

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DOI: 10.1111/jfb.14946

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 freshwater from their marine migration, i.e., their marine return rates (MRR). Thus, understanding the factors that affect MRR is of crucial conservation importance. We 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. As well as 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. While 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 ways to improve smolt quality (i.e., body size) as well as smolt quantity. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Item Type:Article
ISSN:0022-1112
Uncontrolled Keywords:anadromous salmonid ; body size ; sea bass ; state space model ; survival ; temperature
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:36275
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:22 Nov 2021 12:06
Last Modified:22 Nov 2021 12:06

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