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Migratory behaviour of juvenile rainbow trout, Salmo gairdneri, in outlet and inlet streams of Loon Lake, British Columbia Northcote, Thomas Gordon

Abstract

The marked differences in response to water current, exhibited by juvenile rainbow trout migrating into Loon Lake from its outlet and inlet streams, were studied both in the field and in experimental laboratory apparatus. All available evidence argued against genetically discrete outlet and inlet stocks, each maintaining different innate responses to water current. Difference in water temperature between streams was shown, in field and laboratory experiments, to regulate direction of juvenile trout migration through action on behaviour associated with downstream movement, maintenance of position and upstream movement. In laboratory experiments with cool (5°, 10° C.) flowing water, recently emerged fry rarely made contact with the stream bottom in darkness and exhibited much more downstream movement than in warm (> 14°C.) water. In cool streams of the Loon Lake system (daily mean consistently < 13°C.) large numbers of recently emerged fry moved downstream in darkness. Laboratory experiments indicated that combination of cool water (10°C.) and long day length (sixteen hours) induced downstream movement of fingerlings. In the field, fingerlings moved downstream largely in late spring and summer in cool streams of the Loon Lake system. In laboratory experiments with warm (15°, 20°C.) flowing water, recently emerged fry made frequent contact with the stream bottom in darkness and exhibited much less downstream movement than in cool (10°C.) water. In the warm outlet stream (daily mean in summer usually > 15°C.) recently emerged fry maintained position in darkness. Laboratory experiments suggested that short day length (eight hours) may facilitate maintenance of position exhibited by fingerlings in streams during late autumn and winter. Upstream movement of fry tested in the field and laboratory was most pronounced in warm water (>14°C). Fingerlings subjected to rapid 5°C. increases in water temperature in an experimental stream exhibited an immediate increase in upstream movement. Upstream movement in summer of large fry and fingerlings occurred only in the warm outlet stream; daily periodicity of upstream movement was positively correlated with sharp rises in water temperature. Evidence examined from four other widely separated stream systems indicated an environmental control of migration in juvenile rainbow trout similar to that demonstrated in the Loon Lake stream system. Possible mechanisms and interaction of factors controlling migratory patterns between and within streams are discussed. Significance of the predominant role played by temperature is considered.

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