[en] Salmo salar ; Turbulence ; Habitat choice ; Telemetry ; Mobility ; Home range ; Canada
[en] The variables commonly used to describe the physical habitat of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar parr are average velocity, water depth, and substrate. A variety of micro- and mesohabitat models have been developed using these variables to assess habitat quality. However, Atlantic salmon parr live in highly turbulent streams and rivers in which intense fluctuations of water velocity occur. Laboratory experiments have shown that turbulence affects the behavior and energetics of fish. Nevertheless, habitat use in relation to the strong temporal variability of velocity in natural environments has rarely been studied. In this study, Atlantic salmon parr habitat was examined in relation to turbulence in the Patapedia River, Quebec. Rather than taking the usual approach of surveying a large population at one point in time, we used an intensive radiotelemetry tracking survey that focused on the habitat use of a few individual fish over an extended period. We analyzed habitat use in relation to several dynamic hydraulic variables. Our results revealed that under naturally turbulent conditions, the parr displayed high individual variability in their habitat use. Such heterogeneous use of habitat suggests that individuals are not constrained to a single habitat type. Furthermore, no differences were observed in habitat use among the four daily periods (dawn, day, dusk, and night) for individual parr.