Salinity tolerance of freshwater acclimated, small-sized Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus from northern Labrador

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Abstract

Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus, less than 150 mm in size were frequently captured at sea in northern Labrador in areas where salinities of 30‰ or higher had been recorded. These captures were inconsistent with many earlier reports for other areas that indicated Arctic charr less than 150 mm in size were not found at sea. A series of salinity challenge tests was carried out in the field, using wild Ikarut River charr, and in the laboratory, using cultured Fraser River charr, to understand more about the potential fate of these small fish. The results of challenge tests with small Arctic charr (< 120 mm) indicated that at intermediate salinities (10–20‰), these fish can readily survive. In laboratory tests with salinities at 30‰, survival was size dependent and would suggest that in natural situations, small charr would require periodic access to fresh or brackish water to stay alive. The influence of water temperature on salinity tolerance may be important when fish are exposed to temperatures that are below 0° C.

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