When adult salmon return to their natal streams to spawn they deliver energy in the form of carcass tissues and eggs. Currently, the effect of this marine-derived energy on the growth and energy allocation strategies of juvenile salmonids is unknown. This thesis examined the effects of marine-derived energy on the growth and energy allocation strategies of juvenile coho salmon and resident Dolly Varden. Fatty acid analysis was developed as a tool for monitoring the flow of marine-derived lipids and hence energy from carcass tissues to consumers in laboratory and field settings. Fish in these settings were examined before and after the arrival of adult salmon carcasses in their respective habitats. The allocation of protein and lipid was monitored in concert with the fatty acid analysis. In addition, the effect of different diets on fasting of wild coho salmon was studied to determine how marine-derived diets might influence over winter survival. Marine-derived energy was acquired by juvenile salmonids through both direct and indirect processes. Direct acquisition entailed consumption of marine-derived lipids or short trophic linkages between carcass tissues and consumers. Indirect acquisition was typified by long trophic linkages between consumers and carcass tissues in which marine lipids were incorporated by consumers after marine-derived lipids permeated food webs. The benefits of consuming marine-derived lipids depended on the method of acquisition. Fish that directly acquired marine-derived lipids altered their energy allocation strategies by storing greater amounts of lipid; allowing them to maintain elevated metabolic rates over winter and start spring in a high nutritional state. In contrast, indirect acquisition of marine-derived lipids afforded fish few benefits. These fish survive winter by down regulating metabolic rates and start spring in a low nutritional state. The ubiquity of direct acquisition by coho salmon and variable routes of acquisition in Dolly Varden suggest that the presence of carcass tissues may serve to reinforce anadromy among juvenile salmonids rearing in streams.
Thesis (Ph.D.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2009
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