Is the winter period a severe bottleneck of anadromous riverine Arctic charr parr?


R. Knudsen, Department of Aquatic Biosciences, Norwegian College of Fishery Science, University of Tromsø, Breivika, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway; e-mail:


Abstract –  Winter growth and survival of wild individually tagged juvenile Arctic charr (1+ age) from a riverine anadromous stock, were studied in a small ice-covered (∼6 months) ground water brook (temperature ∼1 °C) connected to Skibotnelva in subarctic northern Norway. The overall winter survival was estimated to be 68% from late October 2005 to early May 2006. The recaptured charr were not significantly different in initial length or weight compared with the nonrecaptured fish suggesting low size-dependent mortality. The majority (98%) of the recaptured charr showed significant increase in size, with a mean increment of 62% from their initial bodyweight and 12% of the charr parr had more than doubled their weight. The mean specific growth rate was calculated to be slightly lower (0.27) than estimated values from a growth model (∼0.35). In addition, the condition factor increased significantly during the field experiment. These results are the first individual growth data on riverine anadromous Arctic charr parr under natural winter conditions, and indicate that charr can grow relatively fast during periods with low temperature and also that ground water brooks can be good over-wintering habitat for juvenile Arctic charr. These results suggest that the winter period is perhaps a less severe bottleneck than previously recognised for the cold-adapted Arctic charr.