Physiological and endocrine changes during smolt development were examined in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) reared and released as part of a restoration program on the Connecticut River and its tributaries. Fish were reared in a cold water hatchery in Pittsford, VT and released into the Farmington River, CT (a major tributary of the Connecticut River) or into 'imprint ponds' fed by the Farmington River. Smelts were recaptured 10-20 days after their release at a smolt bypass facility 16 km downstream of their release site. Fish sampled at the hatchery from January to May had only moderate smolt development based on salinity tolerance, gill Na+,K+-ATPase activity and hormone profiles. In contrast, smolts released into the river or imprint ponds had higher salinity tolerance, gill Na+,K+-ATPase activity, plasma growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and thyroxine than smolts that remained in the hatchery. These physiological and endocrine changes were nearly identical to those of smolts that had been released into the river 2 years earlier as fry and were captured as active migrants at the same bypass facility (stream-reared smolts). The stomach contents as a percent of body weight (primarily aquatic insects) varied greatly among individuals and were greater in hatchery-reared fish than stream-reared smolts. Results from the rearing of hatchery fish at temperatures similar to that of the Farmington River indicate that some of the physiological changes may be due to increased temperature after release, though other factors may also be involved. The results indicate that substantial physiological smolt development can occur after hatchery release, coincident with downstream migration. ?? 2003 Published by Elsevier Science B.V.
Additional publication details
Endocrine and physiological changes in Atlantic salmon smolts following hatchery release