Micro- and macro-habitat selection of Atlantic salmon, (Salmo salar), post-smolts in relation to marine environmental cues
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionICES Journal of Marine Science. 2022, . 10.1093/icesjms/fsac064
Atlantic salmon is an economically and culturally important species. The species encounters several natural and man-made threats during its migration between fresh water and the ocean, which in combination may explain its ongoing decline. With the aim to better understand whether post-smolt behaviour is influenced by physical oceanographic conditions, the migratory behaviour of 173 post-smolts in a high-latitude Norwegian fjord was investigated, combining acoustic telemetry with site- and time-specific environmental variables from an oceanographic model. Most post-smolts (94%) performed a unidirectional migration out the fjord. Progression rates were relatively high (0.42–2.41 km h−1; 0.84–3.78 BL s−1) and increased with distance from the river. While post-smolts had an affinity for lower salinities in the inner fjord, statistical models failed to detect any significant relationship between the small-scale (within arrays) migratory behaviour and salinity, temperature, or coastal surface currents within the fjord. In the outer part, the post-smolts predominantly exited the fjord system through the strait with the highest surface salinities and lowest temperatures, independently of the current direction. Our findings indicate that the macro-habitat selection of the Atlantic salmon post-smolts was influenced by environmental factors: the post-smolts directed their migration towards “ocean cues.” However, this was not confirmed on the micro-habitat level.