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Differential lifetime success and performance of native and non-native Atlantic salmon examined under communal natural conditions

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†Tel.: +353 98 42 300; fax: +353 98 42 340; email: phil.mcginnity@marine.ie

Abstract

The lifetime success and performance characteristics of communally reared offspring of wild native Burrishoole (native), ranched native (ranched) and non-native (non-native) Atlantic salmon Salmo salar from the adjacent Owenmore River were compared. Non-native 0+ year parr showed a substantial downstream migration, which was not shown by native and ranched parr. This appears to have been an active migration rather than competitive displacement and may reflect an adaptation to environmental or physiographic conditions within the Owenmore River catchment where the main nursery habitat is downstream of the spawning area. There were no differences between native and ranched in smolt output or adult return. Both of these measures, however, were significantly lower for the non-native group. A greater proportion of the non-native Atlantic salmon was taken in the coastal drift nets compared to the return to the Burrishoole system, probably as a result of the greater size of the non-native fish. The overall lifetime success of the non-native group, from fertilized egg to returning adult, was some 35% of native and ranched. The ranched group showed a significantly greater male parr maturity, a greater proportion of 1+ year smolts, and differences in sex ratio and timing of freshwater entry of returning adults compared to native, which may have fitness implications under specific conditions.

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