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Does the trace element composition of brown trout Salmo trutta eggs remain unchanged in spawning redds?


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The temporal stability of trace element concentrations in fertilized, artificially incubated anadromous brown trout Salmo trutta eggs and newly hatched fry was investigated. The anadromous status of the parental fish was confirmed using strontium isotopic analysis of otoliths. Whilst manganese concentrations in eggs varied over time, concentrations of aluminium, potassium, magnesium, strontium, barium and calcium were all unchanged 1 week and 6 weeks post-fertilization as well as in recently hatched larvae. The results clearly suggest that the distinctive trace element signature present in the eggs and newly hatched larvae of anadromous S. trutta (typically characterized by high strontium, low barium) is stable over time. Therefore analysis of the trace element composition of eggs is concluded to be a cost-effective and reliable method for determining the spatial and temporal extent of upstream spawning migration by anadromous salmonids. The temporal variability of at least one element in this study suggests the stability of untested multi-element signatures cannot automatically be assumed.