The interplay between extrinsic and intrinsic factors in determining migration decisions in brown trout (Salmo trutta): An experimental study

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Archer, Louise C.
Hutton, Stephen A.
Harman, Luke
O'Grady, Michael N.
Kerry, Joseph P.
Poole, W. Russell
Gargan, Patrick
McGinnity, Philip
Reed, Thomas E.
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Frontiers Media
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Many species are capable of facultative migration, but the relative roles of extrinsic versus intrinsic factors in generating diverse migratory tactics remain unclear. Here we explore the proximate drivers of facultative migration in brown trout in an experimental laboratory setting. The effects of reduced food, as a putative environmental cue, were examined in two populations: one that exhibits high rates of anadromy (sea-migration) in nature, and one that does not exhibit anadromy in nature. Juveniles derived from wild-caught parents were reared for two years under four environmental treatments: low food in years 1 and 2 (Low-Low); high food in years 1 and 2 (High-High), low food in year 1 and high in year 2 (Low-High), and vice versa (High-Low). Food restriction had a significant effect on migratory tactics, with the frequency of smolts (juveniles choosing migration) highest in the Low-Low treatment in both populations. No individuals became smolts in the High-High treatment, and intermediate smolting rates were observed in the Low-High and High-Low treatments. Higher overall smolting rates in the naturally anadromous population suggested an inherited component to anadromy/migration decisions, but both populations showed variability in migratory tactics. Importantly, some fish from the naturally non-anadromous population became smolts in the experiment, implying the capacity for migration was lying ‘dormant’, but they exhibited lower hypo-osmoregulatory function than smolts from the naturally anadromous population. Tactic frequencies in the naturally anadromous population were more affected by food in the 2nd year, while food in the 1st year appeared more important for the naturally non-anadromous population. Migratory tactics were also related to sex, but underpinned in both sexes by growth in key periods, size and energetic state. Collectively these results reveal how migration decisions are shaped by a complex interplay between extrinsic and intrinsic factors, informing our ability to predict how facultatively migratory populations will respond to environmental change.
Partial migration , Climate Change , Anadromy , Aquatic , Brown trout , Salmo trutta , Genotype by environment , Proximate drivers
Archer, L.C., Hutton, S., Harman, L., O'Grady, M.N., Kerry, J.P., Poole, R., Gargan, P., McGinnity, P. and Reed, T.E. (2019) 'The interplay between extrinsic and intrinsic factors in determining migration decisions in brown trout (Salmo trutta): an experimental study'. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 7, 222. (18pp). doi:10.3389/fevo.2019.00222