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The effects of fluvial processes and habitat heterogeneity on distribution, growth and densities of juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.), with consequences on abundance of the adult fish


R. J. Gibson, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Science Branch, P.O. Box 5667, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada A1C 5X1; Tel.: +1 709 726 2498; e-mail:


Abstract – The required freshwater habitats of juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) are, in general, well known, but vary in quality, related to interacting effects of several variables, which may depend on different parts of a river system. Examples are given of ranges of densities and growth that can be found at various sites in eastern Canada, illustrating the biological and physico-chemical factors affecting production of juvenile salmon. Relative growth rates can indicate habitat quality and population densities. Salmon parr have negative effects on brook trout in riffle habitats. The effects of migrations within the river and of changes with stream succession on juvenile salmon production are illustrated with examples from a Newfoundland river. Migration of age-classes can be quantified from ‘self-thinning’ curves. Lakes have enhancing effects on downstream fluvial habitats, and, at least in Newfoundland, and probably in many boreal areas, the lacustrine proportion of the basin can be used as an index for deriving estimates of required spawning escapement. The factors described should be taken into account for more refined estimates of river production and management of the salmon resource.