The time course of morphometric variation among life histories for stream-dwelling Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) parr (age-0+ to age-2+) was analyzed. Possible life histories were combinations of parr maturity status in the autumn (mature or immature) and age at outmigration (smolt at age-2+ or later age). Actual life histories expressed with enough fish for analysis in the 1997 cohort were immature/age-2+ smolt, mature/age-2 +smolt, and mature/age-2+ non-smolt. Tagged fish were assigned to one of the three life histories and digital pictures from the field were analyzed using landmark-based geometric morphometrics. Results indicated that successful grouping of fish according to life history varied with fish age, but that fish could be grouped before the actual expression of the life histories. By March (age-1+), fish were successfully grouped using a descriptive discriminant function and successful assignment ranged from 84 to 97% for the remainder of stream residence. A jackknife of the discriminant function revealed an average life history prediction success of 67% from age-1+ summer to smolting. Low sample numbers for one of the life histories may have limited prediction success. A MANOVA on the shape descriptors (relative warps) also indicated significant differences in shape among life histories from age-1+ summer through to smolting. Across all samples, shape varied significantly with size. Within samples, shape did not vary significantly with size for samples from December (age-0+) to May (age-1+). During the age-1+ summer however, shape varied significantly with size, but the relationship between shape and size was not different among life histories. In the autumn (age-1+) and winter (age-2+), life history differences explained a significant portion of the change in shape with size. Life history dependent morphometric variation may be useful to indicate the timing of early expressions of life history variation and as a tool to explore temporal and spatial variation in life history expression.
Additional publication details
Life history dependent morphometric variation in stream-dwelling Atlantic salmon