The Importance of Egg Size and Social Effects for Behaviour of Arctic Charr Juveniles


Camille Anne-Lise Leblanc, Department of Aquaculture and Fish biology, Hólar University College, Háeyri 1, Sauðarkrókur 551, Iceland. E-mail:


Early behaviour can determine food intake and growth rate with important consequences for life history and survival in fishes. Egg size is known to affect growth rate of young Arctic charr but its influence on the development of behaviour is poorly documented. It is believed that egg size influence on growth and potentially on the behaviour of young fish decreases over time, minimized by the effects of social factors. Shortly after first feeding, we examined differences in mobility and foraging of Arctic charr in relation to egg size and social environment. The behaviour of juveniles from small and large eggs was compared five times over the course of development and in three different experimental settings: long-term isolation (isolation before hatching), short-term isolation vs. group rearing and mixed size group vs. homogeneous size groups. Egg size affected foraging behaviour and mobility of fish: fish coming from large eggs were more mobile and foraged more than fish coming from small eggs. Social environment affected foraging behaviour, mobility and space use: fish in a group were more mobile, foraged more and responded faster to food delivery than isolated fish. The interaction of egg size and social effects was seen primarily in foraging activities but did not affect mobility or space use. Large fish in groups foraged more than the three other groups: large fish in isolation, small fish in groups and small fish in isolation. Agonistic behaviour was rarely observed and there was no significant effect of group composition on agonistic behaviour. We discuss the importance of egg size and social effects at early stages of development with a focus on the evolutionary ecology of Arctic charr.