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Keywords:

  • Salmo salar;
  • conservation;
  • captive breeding;
  • restocking;
  • enriched rearing

Abstract –  After release to the wild, captive reared salmon have shown lower foraging rates on natural prey and impaired ability to avoid natural predators and thus lower survival compared with wild-born conspecifics. Here, we examine whether captive breeding influences learning of foraging on natural prey and how enriched rearing methods may improve foraging on natural prey by Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) parr. We reared offspring of hatchery or wild salmon of the same population in either a standard or enriched environment at production-scale densities. The enriched environment featured submerged overhead shelter, varying water current, depth and direction and consequently alterations in food dispersion. Parr reared in the enriched environment expressed higher feeding rates, and parr of wild origin started to forage earlier on natural prey. The enriched method promoted foraging of hatchery reared parr on natural prey and is easily applicable to commercial production of salmonids for reintroduction or stock enhancement purposes.