Reconstructing marine life-history strategies of wild Atlantic salmon from the stable isotope composition of otoliths

Hanson, N.N., Wurster, C.M., and Todd, C.D. (2013) Reconstructing marine life-history strategies of wild Atlantic salmon from the stable isotope composition of otoliths. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 475. pp. 249-266.

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Abstract

Long-term declines in abundance of wild Atlantic salmon Salmo salar, L. have been linked to reductions in marine survivorship, and recent reductions in growth condition (a measure of fish quality) have been correlated to increased mid-winter sea-surface temperature anomalies in the eastern North Atlantic. Establishing a causal link between marine climate and salmon somatic condition is difficult without at-sea measurements of environmental and biological parameters, but electronically tagging these animals to obtain this information is also difficult and costly. The stable isotope composition of oxygen and carbon in the sequential layers of salmon otoliths can provide a basis for retrospective studies of the thermal, metabolic and dietary histories of individual fish. We used high resolution δ¹⁸O and δ¹³C profiles obtained using secondary ion mass spectrometry to compare the marine thermal and metabolic behaviour of 1 sea-winter return-migrant adult salmon. Seasonal and ontogenetic patterns in δ¹⁸O and δ¹³C values dominated isotope variation, although there were marked differences between individual profiles, indicating the potential for large differences in individual migration routes. There was no significant relationship between isotope variation and adult condition. Constructed thermal profiles provided plausible data, but the present uncertainty in otolith thermometry parameters for an open-ocean fish such as Atlantic salmon preclude firm conclusions based on these estimates. Marine life-history variation in otolith δ¹³C is likely driven by ontogenetic changes, both in diet and metabolism with size. A marked and rapid decrease in the δ¹³C values of some fish in the last month(s) of the marine migration could be an indicator of physiological changes occurring during the homing migration.

Item ID: 28319
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1616-1599
Keywords: Atlantic salmon, mgration, isoscape, tracking, condition factor, metabolism
Funders: University of Saint Andrews, Natural Environment Research Council, Atlantic Salmon Trust
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2013 05:36
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0402 Geochemistry > 040203 Isotope Geochemistry @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830204 Wild Caught Fin Fish (excl. Tuna) @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
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