The recruitment of Atlantic salmon in Europe

by

Friedland, K. D., MacLean, J. C., Hansen, L. P., Peyronnet, A. J., Karlsson, L., Reddin, D. G., Ó Maoiléidigh, N., and McCarthy, J. L. 2009.

– ICES Journal of Marine Science, 66: 289–304.

The stock complex of Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar, in Europe has experienced a multidecadal decline in recruitment, resulting in the lowest stock abundances observed since 1970. Here, physical forcing, biological interactions, and the resultant growth response of post-smolt salmon are examined with a view to understanding the mechanism controlling recruitment. Sea surface temperature (SST) has increased in the Northeast Atlantic, with the pattern and seasonal change in SST negatively correlated with post-smolt survival during summer and in a region that spatially matches the post-smolt nursery. Constituents of the pelagic foodweb, including potential post-smolt food and plankton that may affect post-smolt forage, have changed on a decadal scale and correlate with salmon survival. Retrospective growth analyses of eight stock/sea age components show that post-smolt growth during summer is positively correlated with salmon survival and recruitment. The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation appears to be a more closely aligned climate forcing index than the North Atlantic Oscillation with respect to salmon recruitment. European Atlantic salmon recruitment appears to be governed by factors that affect the growth of post-smolts during their first summer at sea, including SST and forage abundances; growth appears to mediate survival by the functional relationship between post-smolts and their predators.

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