Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Experimental evaluation of predation of stocked salmon by riparian wildlife: effects of prey size and predator behaviours

Kouta Miyamoto A B D , Theodore E. Squires B and Hitoshi Araki C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Research Center for Freshwater Fisheries, National Research Institute of Fisheries Science, Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency, Nikko, Tochigi 321-1661, Japan.

B Graduate School of Agriculture, Hokkaido University, N9W9 Kita, Sapporo 060-8589, Japan.

C Research Faculty of Agriculture, Hokkaido University, N9W9 Kita, Sapporo 060-8589, Japan.

D Corresponding author. Email: mkouta@affrc.go.jp

Marine and Freshwater Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/MF17215
Submitted: 15 July 2017  Accepted: 27 September 2017   Published online: 22 December 2017

Abstract

Predation after release is one of the major concerns of hatchery fish conservation and propagation. However, the relationships between the size of hatchery fish, the predator species and their behaviours in natural environments are largely unknown. To understand these relationships, we conducted predation experiments in outdoor tanks and a seminatural stream with exposure to local predators. Masu salmon (Oncorhynchus masou) of two different size classes were used as experimental prey fish in the present study. Camera trap data showed that grey herons (Ardea cinerea) were the primary predator in the experimental system, and that most herons used shallow areas in the morning or evening while feeding. Increasing the density of stocked salmon led to increases in the number of occurrences of grey heron. More importantly, predation by grey herons resulted in a significantly lower survival rate of larger salmon compared with smaller salmon. The results indicate that it is important to understand local predators, adjust the optimum body size of hatchery fish at release and choose the appropriate stocking site and time of day for maximising the effectiveness of fish stocking.

Additional key words: hatchery management, piscivorous water birds, predator–prey interaction, size-selective predation.


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