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Keywords:

  • salmon;
  • stocking;
  • habitat;
  • intra-specific competition;
  • management;
  • conservation

Laffaille P. Impact of stocked Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) on habitat use by the wild population. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 2011: 20: 67–73. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S

Abstract –  We investigated the summer habitat occupied by populations of young-of-the-year wild and stocked (farmed populations released into the native range) Atlantic salmon under allopatric and sympatric conditions. Under allopatric conditions, farmed and wild salmon occupied habitats with the same characteristics. The salmon preferentially occupied the riffle areas. However, under sympatric conditions, the fish occupied meso- and micro-habitats with different characteristics. Wild salmon avoided habitats used by farmed salmon and preferred glide areas with considerable vegetation cover. This study suggests that differences in the pattern of habitats used by young Atlantic salmon were both size- and origin-dependent and may result from intra-species competition between farmed and wild populations. Given that stocking with farmed Atlantic salmon is carried out intensively to enhance recreational angling or to conserve salmon populations, this study warns that this can have a negative impact on the extant wild Atlantic salmon population.