Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Wynne R;Kaufmann J;Coughlan J;Phillips KP;Waters C;Finlay RW;Rogan G;Poole R;McGinnity P;Reed TE;
Journal of Fish Biology
Autumn outmigrants in brown trout (Salmo trutta) are not a demographic dead-end.
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Optional Fields
Genetic identity analysis and PIT (passive integrated transponder) tagging were used to examine the freshwater return rates and phenotypic characteristics of n┐=┐1791 downstream migrating juvenile Salmo trutta in the Burrishoole catchment (northwest Ireland) across the period September 2017 to December 2020. In this system, juveniles out-migrate (move from freshwater into brackish or marine habitats) in every month of the year, with distinct seasonal peaks in spring (March through June; mostly silvered smolts) and autumn (September through December; mostly younger, unsilvered fry or parr). Both types exhibited a sex-bias towards females, which was stronger in spring (78% females) than in autumn outmigrants (67%). Sixty-nine returning fish were matched back to previous juvenile outmigrants, and similar return rates were found for spring outmigrants (5.0%), autumn outmigrants (3.3%) and fish that out-migrated outside of spring or autumn (2.8%). Spring and autumn outmigrants returned at similar dates (typically mid to late July), but autumn fish were away for longer periods (median┐=┐612┐days; spring outmigrants┐=┐104┐days). Autumn outmigrants were 25% smaller than spring outmigrants at outmigration and 6% smaller on their return, and within both groups smaller/younger outmigrants spent longer away than larger/older outmigrants. Autumn outmigrants were more likely to return unsilvered as "slob" trout (84%) than spring outmigrants (31%), suggesting they make greater use of brackish habitats that might be safer, but less productive, than fully marine habitats. Nonetheless, both types also produced silvered "sea trout" (=1+ sea-age), implying neither is locked into a single life-history strategy. The findings emphasise that autumn outmigrants and the transitional habitats that support their persistence should not be overlooked in salmonid management and conservation.
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