Interactions between local population density and limited habitat resources determine movements of juvenile Atlantic salmon
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Competition for limited resources and the resulting density-dependent processes are key factors in driving stream salmonid population dynamics. Here we test for the combined effects of density and shelter availability on the movement of juvenile Atlantic salmon in a Norwegian river. Individually marked, hatchery reared salmon juveniles were released at 26 sites along a 2.5 km long stretch and recaptured after 12 months. The spatial variation in shelter availability and density of salmonids was quantified prior to the release. We found no effect of released fish number on the number of marked salmon moving more than 12.5 – 112.5 m away from their release site. However, the ratio of pre-experiment fish density per shelter was positively related to the number of movers. Thus, fish that were released at sites where the amount of shelter was low relative to the density of the pre-experiment population were more likely to move. These results support the prediction from smaller scale experimental studies that shelter availability may act to determine local carrying capacity in stream living salmonid populations.