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Born to be wild: effects of rearing density and environmental enrichment on stress, welfare, and smolt migration in hatchery-reared Atlantic salmon

Journal article
Authors Malin Rosengren
E Kvingedal
Joacim Näslund
Jörgen I Johnsson
Kristina Sundell
Published in Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Volume 74
Issue 3
Pages 396-405
ISSN 0706-652X
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 396-405
Language en
Links doi.org/10.1139/cjfas-2015-0515
Keywords Fiske , Biologi
Subject categories Biological Sciences

Abstract

Hatchery-reared salmonids released into the wild generally have poor survivability compared with wild conspecifics. To assess potential hatchery rearing improvements, behavioral and physiological effects of reducing animal density and adding in-tank shelter were investigated. Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) parr were placed in barren or shelter-enriched tanks at high or low density up until release as smolts. Lowered density rendered positive effects on growth and intestinal barrier function, and both lowered density and shelter decreased conspecific aggression, as inferred by fin damage. Furthermore, while the presence of shelter decreased stress hormone levels following human disturbance, it also decreased growth and smolt migration success, an effect particularly pronounced at high densities. Therefore, we suggest that this type of structural enrichment should be avoided for Atlantic salmon smolts held at high densities and conclude that a lowered animal density with or without shelter has the highest potential in producing a more resilient smolt for stocking.

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