Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 8, pp 1633–1646 | Cite as

Temperature, salinity and prey availability shape the marine migration of Arctic char, Salvelinus alpinus, in a macrotidal estuary

  • Aaron D. Spares
  • Michael J. W. Stokesbury
  • Ron K. O’Dor
  • Terry A. Dick
Original Paper


The influence of salinity, temperature and prey availability on the marine migration of anadromous fishes was determined by describing the movements, habitat use and feeding behaviours of Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus). The objectives were to determine whether char are restricted to the upper water column of the inter-/subtidal zones due to warmer temperatures. Twenty-seven char were tracked with acoustic temperature/pressure (depth) transmitters from June to September, 2008/2009, in inner Frobisher Bay, Canada. Most detections were in surface waters (0–3 m). Inter-/subtidal movements and consecutive repetitive dives (maximum 52.8 m) resulted in extreme body temperature shifts (−0.2–18.1 °C). Approximately half of intertidal and subtidal detections were between 9–13 °C and 1–3 °C, respectively. Stomach contents and deep diving suggested feeding in both inter-/subtidal zones. We suggest that char tolerate cold water at depth to capture prey in the subtidal zone, then seek warmer water to enhance feeding/digestion physiology.


Intertidal Zone Arctic Char Prey Availability Prefer Temperature Subtidal Zone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Thanks to the Nunavut Research Institute (Thomas M and staff), Nunavut Arctic College Environmental Training Program (Carpenter J), Allen Island Outfitting, Inukshuk Outfitters, Attagoyuk J, Pishuktie L, Amarok Hunters and Trappers Association and Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Iqaluit. Acknowledgement is given to Webber D (Vemco/Amirix) for help designing the 2008 receiver array. We acknowledge the following field assistants: Dyck M, K and L; Beaud M, Atkinson P, Flaherty A, Hardie D, Power J, Halfyard E, Hollis I, Cunningham L, Corneau E, Luszczek C and Biastoch R. ADS thanks Gray C in Ottawa, Vemco/Amirix (King D and staff), Stokesbury Lab (Acadia U) and the Ocean Tracking Network (Dal U). Special thanks to Dadswell M for help identifying crustaceans and reviewing manuscript drafts. This research was largely funded with a National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Northern Research Chair grant (TAD, U Man). Additional funds were secured by ADS from ArcticNet Training Fund, Canadian National Sportsmens Shows, Canadian Wildlife Federation Orville Erickson Memorial Scholarships, Northern Scientific Training Program, NSERC Northern Research Internship/Post-Graduate Scholarship and a Vemco/Amirix VR100 student discount (ADS & TAD).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aaron D. Spares
    • 1
  • Michael J. W. Stokesbury
    • 2
  • Ron K. O’Dor
    • 1
  • Terry A. Dick
    • 3
  1. 1.Biology Department, Ocean Tracking NetworkDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Department of BiologyAcadia UniversityWolfvilleCanada
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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