Environmentally induced migration: the importance of food


* E-mail: ivan.olsson@kau.se


The decision to migrate or not is regarded as genetically controlled for many invertebrate and vertebrate taxa. Here, we show that the environment influences this decision. By reciprocally transplanting brown trout (Salmo trutta L.) between two sections in a river, we show that both migratory and non-migratory behaviour can be environmentally induced; migratory behaviour developed in a river section with high brown trout densities and low specific growth rates, whereas non-migratory behaviour developed in a section with low brown trout densities and high specific growth rates. In a laboratory experiment, we tested the effect of food availability on the development of migratory and non-migratory body morphologies and found that most brown trout became migrants when food levels were low but fewer did so at high food levels. Thus, the decision to migrate seems to be a plastic response, influenced by growth opportunities.