Salmonid behaviour under winter conditions

Detta är en avhandling från Karlstad : Karlstads universitet

Sammanfattning: Winter conditions are believed to play an important role in the population dynamics of northern temperate stream fish, challenging the ability of fish to physiologically and behaviourally adapt. Climate change is predicted to increase both mean temperature and temperature fluctuations, especially during winter, leading to dynamic environmental conditions in terms of river ice production and flow. Therefore, knowledge about the winter ecology of stream fish is important for predicting and mitigating anthropogenic impacts on fish production in boreal streams. Stream salmonids are relatively active throughout winter, and behavioural responses to different winter conditions may be critical for survival. Yet, relatively little is known about overwintering behaviour of salmonids, particularly in streams with ice. In this doctoral thesis, I report the results from experimental field and laboratory studies on the behavioural ecology of juvenile salmonids under winter conditions. My results from the field show that salmonids grow more and use a broader range of habitats in the presence of surface ice than in its absence. Results from the laboratory experiments show that the presence of surface ice increases food intake rates, reduces stress and affects social interactions. These laboratory results may explain the positive effects of ice cover on growth that was found in the field experiment. Moreover, I show that drift-feeding ability is reduced at low temperatures, and that nocturnal drift foraging under winter conditions has a low efficiency.