Seasonal patterns of growth, expenditure and assimilation in juvenile Atlantic salmon


§Correspondence author.


  • 1We report a modelling study of a data-set describing the growth of individual Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) parr in the Girnock Burn (Scotland). A development of the compensatory growth model due to Broekhusien et al. (1994) was fitted to these data by numerical optimization.
  • 2The model uses carbon mass as a surrogate for an energy currency. This mass is divided into structure and reserve components, so as to describe decoupled changes in length and wet-weight.
  • 3Using the same parameters for all fish, our model explained 83% of the variability in length and weight at age. Adding a single additional parameter for each individual enabled the model to explain over 96% of length and weight variability.
  • 4Weak negative correlation between size at first capture and within-study growth argues against genetic causality of observed growth variability.
  • 5The energetic basis of our model enables us to infer time-series of net assimilation and basal maintenance rates for the observed individuals. Maximal growth occurs early in the season when high assimilation is accompanied by low temperatures and maintenance rates. In late season, continuing high assimilation is balanced by high maintenance rates consequent on summer temperatures.