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Research approach

Recent research suggests that hatchery rearing methods can be improved considerably. For example, reduced density, addition of physical structure, and more nature-like feeding regimes have positive effects on the performance of hatchery salmonids. However, long-term effects of such modified methods on the migration and return rates of released fish are poorly known. SMOLTPRO will evaluate the effect of modified hatchery procedures in four full-scale model systems.

 


Main questions

Some of the addressed questions are:

• Will a reduction of conventional hatchery rearing densities increase migration and return rates of hatchery-produced smolts?

• How does structural enrichment of the hatchery environment affect brain development, behaviour and post-release performance of hatchery salmonids?

Photo by Bart Adriaenssens

• Will manipulation of feeding regimes, e.g. starvation and/or reduction of lipid content in the food increase the probability of migration and return rates of hatchery smolts?

• Can sorting by larval developmental rate be used to select fish with traits especially suitable for stocking?

 


Applied methods

Analyses of stress levels, behaviour, growth rate, migration, return rates and genetic traits will be critical to evaluate optimal rearing methods.

Some of the novel techniques and analyses are:

• Telomere length analysis is a unique molecular method which will be used to evaluate effects of various rearing regimes on stress and biological ageing.

• Electrophysiological methodologies (Using chamber technique) combined with molecular and immunohistological approaches will be used to study how early rearing conditions affect disease resistance, e.g. primary barrier functions.
 

Photo by Kim Aarestrup and Stefan Larsson

• Tracking of migration and marine movement patterns will be conducted using telemetry and tagging with devices that emit coded signals to arrays of listening stations.
 

Field techniques

Population sampling using electro fishing equipment.

Photo by Lena Neregård

 

Molecular methods

Telomere length analysis.

Photo by Raymond Thorley

 

Experiments

Predator-avoidance in trout, studied using simulated attacks from a heron model.

See Bart Adriaenssens' video in larger format here.

 

Page Manager: RASMUS KASPERSSON|Last update: 6/21/2010
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