The diel and seasonal food habits of young-of-year (YOY) and post-young-of-year (PYOY) Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) parr were assayed over the course of 11 months in the West Brook, Massachusetts USA. Gut fullness of YOY salmon did not vary significantly among months. PYOY salmon exhibited significant seasonal differences in gut fullness, with peak fullness occurring in the spring and late fall. Significant diel differences in PYOY gut fullness occurred in June and April, with peak fullness always occurring at dawn. Prey composition varied substantially among months. Dominant prey items of PYOY salmon were baetid mayflies in June, July, and August, limnephilid caddisflies in October and November, and ephemerellid mayflies in February and April. Few differences in prey composition between PYOY and YOY salmon were observed. Fish growth was unrelated to prey availability, but gut fullness explained up to 97% of growth variation across seasons. Results suggest that spring and fall are critical periods of feeding for PYOY salmon and that diel feeding intensity shifts seasonally.
Additional publication details
Diel and seasonal variation in food habits of Atlantic salmon parr in a small stream