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Feeding behaviour and diet of goosanders (Mergus merganser) in relation to salmonid seaward migration

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 February 2007

John Atle Kålås
Affiliation:
Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Tungasletta 2, N-7005 Frondheim, Norway
Tor G. Heggberget
Affiliation:
Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Tungasletta 2, N-7005 Frondheim, Norway
Pål Arne Bjørn
Affiliation:
Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Tungasletta 2, N-7005 Frondheim, Norway
Ole Reitan
Affiliation:
Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Tungasletta 2, N-7005 Frondheim, Norway
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Abstract

Foraging activities of goosanders (Anatidae, Mergus merganser) were studied in relation to seaward migration of smolt in the River Halselva in northern Norway, 1987-1989. Birds aggregated in the estuary in June, during mass migration of smolts. When present in the estuary males and females spent 28.7 and 35.6% of their time feeding. Only 15% of dives resulted in birds' bringing prey to the surface and about 25% of prey found in goosander stomachs were salmonids. For hatchery-reared smolts released in the estuary, average length taken did not differ from that available; for wild smolts of Arctic char, however, smaller fishes than those available were taken. For 1989, we estimate that goosanders took 1% of the hatchery-reared smolts released in the estuary, and 2% of the wild smolts when smolts passed the estuary during seaward migration. As it is likely that less fit smolts (e.g. sick, injured, small) are most prone to predation, we argue that such a level of predation on migrating smolts from goosanders has only a minor impact on salmonid production. Suggestions to reduce predation are discussed.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© IFREMER-Gauthier-Villars, 1993

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