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Keywords:

  • Salmo salar;
  • sheltering behaviour;
  • winter concealment;
  • nocturnalism;
  • antipredator behaviour;
  • energetics

During winter, juvenile Atlantic salmon Salmo salar become nocturnal and seek refuge during the day in the stream bed gravel interstitial spaces. The function of this behaviour is unclear, but two major types of hypothesis have been proposed. One is that the fish are hiding from something (e.g. a predator) and the other is that the fish are seeking shelter from the water current. These hypotheses were tested by examining the selection of juvenile salmon for refuges that offered different degrees of concealment or shelter. The fish clearly preferred refuges that allowed them to hide (i.e. they were dark and opaque) but offered little shelter from the current. Therefore, it can be assumed that the primary function of this nocturnal behaviour during winter is most likely to hide from diurnal predators.