A variety of movements characterize the behavioral plasticity of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in fresh water, including movements of fry from redds, establishment of feeding territories, spawning movements of sexually mature male parr, movement to and from winter habitat, and smolt migration in spring. Smolting is an adaptive specialization for downstream migration, seawater entry, and marine residence. While still in fresh water, smolts become silvery and streamlined, lose their positive rheotaxis and territoriality, and begin schooling. Physiological changes include increased salinity tolerance, olfactory sensitivity, metabolic rate, scope for growth, and altered hemoglobin and visual pigments. Through their impact on the neuroendocrine system, photoperiod and temperature regulate physiological changes, whereas temperature and water flow may initiate migration. Smolt survival is affected by a limited period of readiness (a physiological 'smolt window') and the timing of seawater entry with environmental conditions such as temperature, food, and predators (an ecological 'smolt window'). Smolt development is adversely affected by acidity, pollutants, and improper rearing conditions, and is often more sensitive than other life stages. Unfortunately, the migration corridor of smolts (mainstems of rivers and estuaries) are the most heavily impacted by pollution, dams, and other anthropogenic activities that may be directly lethal or increase mortality by delaying or inhibiting smolt migration.
Additional publication details
Movement, migration, and smolting of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)
Larger Work Title:
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences