Comparison of the riverine and early marine migration behaviour and survival of wild and hatchery-reared sea trout Salmo trutta smolts

Kim Aarestrup, Henrik Baktoft, Anders Koed, Diego del Villar-Guerra, Eva B. Thorstad

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The seaward migration of wild (n = 61) and hatchery-reared (n = 46) sea trout smolts was investigated in the Danish River Gudenaa and Randers Fjord (17.3 and 28.6 km stretch, respectively) using acoustic telemetry. Their riverine and early marine migration was monitored by deploying automatic listening stations (ALS) at 4 locations in the river and fjord. Migration speeds were approximately 3 to 11 times faster in the river than in the early marine environment. Hatchery-reared smolts migrated faster than wild smolts, but the difference was small, especially compared with the large differences in migration speeds among habitats. There was no difference in the diurnal activity pattern between wild and hatchery-reared smolts. Both the riverine and early marine migration activity were primarily nocturnal, although some individuals were also recorded by the ALSs during the daytime. The survival of the wild smolts from release in the river to the outermost marine ALS site, 46 km from the release site, was 1.8 and 2.9 times higher than that of the hatchery-reared smolts in the 2 study years, respectively. Overall, survival from release to the outermost ALS site was 79% for wild and 39% for hatchery-reared smolts. Since the lower survival of the hatchery-reared compared with the wild smolts could not be explained by differences in migration speeds or diurnal migration patterns, behavioural differences on a smaller scale than those recorded in the present study may explain the difference in survival.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-206
JournalMarine Ecology-Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2014


  • Downstream
  • Ground speed
  • Telemetry
  • Postsmolt
  • Brown trout

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