Social cues may advertise habitat quality to refuge-seeking conspecifics
Individuals travelling through landscapes may use the presence of conspecifics to evaluate habitat quality. Juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L., 1758) are usually territorial and exhibit some degree of density-dependent regulation in wild populations. They are also vulnerable to heat stress and may need to locate a thermal refuge to offset metabolic costs above certain temperature thresholds. During July 2010, a heat wave resulted in water temperatures in the Miramichi River system exceeding 30 °C. During this period, salmon parr were observed aggregating in cold-water refugia at densities several orders of magnitude greater than usual. We tested whether groups of wild-caught salmon parr held at high densities (160 parr/m2) would have an attractant effect on free-swimming parr at three sites differing in temperature between 16.5 and 24 °C. Although neither temperature nor site influenced the number of parr that we observed, there were significantly more parr in close proximity (<1 m) to the artificial aggregations than to the controls. These results suggest that social cues from high-density aggregations of conspecifics during extreme temperature events may advertise the location of thermal refugia to others. Understanding how heat-stressed salmon locate refugia may prove valuable to ongoing conservation efforts given the likelihood of increasingly frequent and extreme high-temperature events.
|Keywords||Aggregations, Atlantic salmon, Heat stress, Information use, Parr, Salmo salar, Territoriality, Thermal refuge/refugia|
|Journal||Canadian Journal of Zoology|
Elvidge, C.K. (Chris K.), Cooke, E.L.L., Cunjak, R.A., & Cooke, S.J. (2017). Social cues may advertise habitat quality to refuge-seeking conspecifics. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 95(1), 1–5. doi:10.1139/cjz-2016-0144