Intra- and inter-specific competition among juvenile atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) and brown trout (Salmo trutta L.)
The main aim of this thesis was to study intra- and inter-specific competition among juvenile Atlantic salmon and brown trout. The study concentrated on two critical times for survival: first, the period from shortly after emergence until later in the summer when individuals first establish territories; and second, during the winter, when many salmonid populations experience a bottleneck. In addition, the stability of social hierarchies and the influence these have on growth and survival were studied on older individuals in the summer. Experiments were carried out in a variety of conditions ranging from small arenas and artificial stream channels where behavioural interactions among fish could be observed, to the wild where it was possible to test inferences derived from laboratory observations in an ecological context. Both salmon and trout are known to undergo a behavioural shift in winter, switching from being primarily diurnal during the summer to being predominantly nocturnal in winter. Atlantic salmon and brown trout forage in slow-flowing water at night and shelter in interstitial spaces in the substrate during the day. This thesis shows that salmon and trout compete for both foraging (chapter 2) and sheltering (chapter 3) habitat in winter, illustrating that competition between the two species is not restricted to the summer months. Trout were shown to dominate salmon in competition for foraging habitat, forcing them to move into shallower water or become more diurnal (chapter 2). Intra- and inter-specific competition for shelters was equal in intensity and more dependent on arrival time (prior residency) than species identity (chapter 3). This competition could have short- and long-term survival consequences for over-wintering fish, particularly Atlantic salmon, and have implications for the carrying capacity of streams.