Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 557–570 | Cite as

The origins and persistence of anadromy in brook charr

  • R. Allen CurryEmail author
  • Louis Bernatchez
  • Fred WhoriskeyJr.
  • Céline Audet


We synthesized the results of a coordinated study examining the spatial and temporal movements, genetic structure, and physiological characteristics of sympatric populations of resident and sea-run brook charr across eastern Canada. Our goal was to critically evaluate three working hypotheses that may explain anadromous behaviour in brook charr: (1) resident and anadromous forms have different phylogenic origins; (2) anadromy emerges from freshwater residents; and (3) freshwater residency emerges from anadromous individuals. Our synthesis is consistent with the conclusion that freshwater residency emerging from anadromous individuals is most probable. Overall, anadromy in brook charr is poorly developed and the tactic of sea-running may be described as partial, facultative anadromy if the species must be described in terms of anadromy. The sea-run tactic most probably results from the species’ propensity to move and disperse, the over-production of juveniles, an archetypical physiological ability to tolerate saline environments, and the persistence of critical habitats. When the spatial and temporal physical environments permit, the anadromous behaviour is expressed. The tactic creates an apparent fitness advantages related to growth, but it is not necessarily the only evolutionary stable strategy for a river. Most populations with sea-run forms are declining and successful conservation of sea-run forms will depend on managing harvests and more importantly, protection of the temporally and spatially complexity of critical habitats.


Anadromy Strategy Tactics Salvelinus fontinalis Salmonids Critical habitats 



We thank the many graduate students and their assistants who conducted the bulk of the field and laboratory work for our studies, especially D. Boula, V. Castric, D. Courtemanche, J. van de Sande, and M. Gautreau. Many organizations and funding agencies supported the research including the Québec—Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources, New Brunswick Environmental Trust Fund, Camp Brûlé, Zec Petite Cascapédia, ZEC Forestville, and Sussex Fish and Game Association. This project was funded in part by an NSERC Strategic Grant, 201893-97.


  1. Aubin-Horth N, Dodson JJ (2004) Influence of individual body size and variable thresholds on the incidence of a sneaker male reproductive tactic in Atlantic salmon. Evolution 58:136–144PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bernatchez L, Dodson JJ (1991) Phylogeographic structure in mitochondrial DNA of the lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) and its relationship to Pleistocene glaciations. Evolution 45:1016–1035CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bernatchez L, Wilson CC (1998) Comparative phylogeography of nearctic and palearctic freshwater fishes. Mol Ecol 7:431–452CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blanchfield PJ, Ridgway MS (1999) The cost of peripheral males in a brook trout mating system. Anim Behav 57:537–544CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Blanchfield PJ, Ridgway MS, Wilson CC (2003) Breeding success of male brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in the wild. Mol Ecol 12:2417–2428CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Boula D, Castric V, Bernatchez L, Audet C (2002) Anadromy in brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis): physiological, endocrine and genetic bases. Environ Biol Fishes 64:229–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Castonguay M, Fitzgerald GJ, Coté Y (1982) Life history and movements of anadromous brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis) in the St-Jean River, Gaspé, Quebec. Can J Zool 60:3084–3091CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Castric V, Bernatchez L (2003) The rise and fall of isolation by distance in the anadromous brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis Mitchill). Genetics 163:983–996PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Chernoff E, Curry RA (2007) First summer growth predetermined in anadromous and resident brook charr. J Fish Biol 70:334–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Claireaux G, Audet C (2000) Seasonal changes in the hypo-osmoregulatory ability of brook charr: the role of environmental factors. J Fish Biol 56:347–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cunjak RA (1988) Physiological consequences of overwintering in streams: the cost of acclimatization. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 45:443–452CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cunjak RA (1996) Winter habitat of selected stream fishes and potential impacts from land-use activity. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 53(Suppl. 1):267–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Curry RA (2005) Assessing the reproductive contributions of sympatric anadromous and freshwater-resident brook trout. J Fish Biol 66:741–757CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Curry RA (2007) Late glacial impacts on dispersal and colonization of Atlantic Canada and Maine by freshwater fishes. Q Res 67:225–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Curry RA, Noakes DLG (1995) Groundwater and spawning site selection by brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis). Can J Fish Aquat Sci 52:1733–1740CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Curry RA, Noakes DLG, Morgan GE (1995) Groundwater and incubation habitats, embryo survival, and alevin emergence of brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis). Can J Fish Aquat Sci 52:1741–1749CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Curry RA, Sparks D, van de Sande J (2002) Movement patterns of a riverine population of brook trout. Trans Am Fish Soc 131:551–560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Curry RA, van de Sande J, Whoriskey FW Jr (2006) Temporal and spatial habitats of anadromous brook charr in the Laval River and its estuary. Environ Biol Fish 76:361–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Danzmann RG, Morgan RP, Jones MW, Bernatchez L (1998) A major sextet of mitochondrial DNA phylogenetic assemblages extant in eastern North American brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis): distribution and post-glacial dispersal patterns. Can J Zool 76:1300–1318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Doyon JF, Hudon C, Morin R, Whoriskey FG Jr (1991) A court terme des movements anadromes saisonniers pour une population d’omble de fontaine (Salvelinus fontinalis) du Nouveau Québec. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 48:2212–2222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dutil JD, Power G (1980) Coastal populations of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in Lac Guillaume-Delisle (Richmond Gulf) Quebec. Can J Zool 58:1828–1835CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Einum S, Hendry AP, Fleming IA (2002) Egg size evolution in aquatic environments: does oxygen availability constrain size? Proc R Soc Lond B 269:2325–2330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Elliott JM, Elliott JA (2006) A 35-year study of stock-recruitment relationships in a small population of sea trout: assumptions, implications and limitations for predicting targets. In: Harris G, Milner N (eds) Sea trout: biology, conservation management. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 257–278Google Scholar
  24. Fausch KD, Torgersen CE, Baxter CV, Li HW (2002) Landscapes to riverscapes: bridging the gap between research and conservation of stream fishes. Bioscience 52:483–498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Foote CJ, Wood CW, Withler RE (1989) Biochemical genetic comparison of sockeye salmon and kokanee, the anadromous and nonanadromous forms of Oncorhynchus nerka. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 46:149–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fraser DJ, Bernatchez L (1995) Allopatric origins of sympatric brook charr populations: colonization history and admixture. Mol Ecol 14:1497–1509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gibson RJ, Whoriskey FC Jr (1980) An experiment to induce anadromy in wild brook trout in a Quebec river on the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Nat Can 107:101–110Google Scholar
  28. Gowan C, Young MK, Fausch KD, Riley SC (1994) Restricted movement in resident stream salmonids: a paradigm lost? Can J Fish Aquat Sci 51:2626–2637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Grant JWA, Imre I (2005) Patterns of density-dependent growth in juvenile stream-dwelling salmonids. J Fish Biol 67:100–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gross MR (1996) Alternative reproductive strategies and tactics: diversity within sexes. Tree 11:92–98Google Scholar
  31. Hébert C, Danzman RG, Jones MW, Bernatchez L (2000) Hydrography and population genetic structure in brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis, Mitchill) from eastern Canada. Mol Ecol 9:971–982CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Hendry AP, Bohlin T, Jonsson B, Berg OK (2004) To sea or not to sea: anadromy versus non-anadromy in salmonids. In: Hendry AP, Stearns SC (eds) Evolution illuminated: salmon and their relatives. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 92–125Google Scholar
  33. Hindar K, Jonsson B, Ryman N, Ståhl G (1991) Genetic relationships among landlocked, resident, and anadromous brown trout, Salmo trutta L. Heredity 66:83–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hoggarth CT, Curry RA (1996) The Nepisiguit river brook trout study. New Brunswick Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Fisheries Report #96-1Google Scholar
  35. Hughes T, Borns Jr HW, Fastook JL, Hyland MR, Kite JS, Lowell TV (1985) Models of glacial reconstruction and deglaciation applied to Maritime Canada and New England. Geol Soc Am, Special Paper 197, pp 139–150Google Scholar
  36. Jardine TD, Chernoff E, Curry RA (2008) Maternal transfer of carbon and nitrogen to progeny of sea-run and resident brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). Can J Fish Aquat Sci 65:2201–2210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jones MW, Danzmann RG, Clay D (1997) Genetic relationships among populations of wild resident, and wild hatchery anadromous Brook Char. J Fish Biol 50:29–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Jonsson B, Jonsson N (1993) Partial migration: niche shift versus sexual maturation in fishes. Rev Fish Biol Fish 3:348–365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Juanes F, Gephard S, Beland KF (2004) Long-term changes in migration timing of adult Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) at the southern edge of the species distribution. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 61:2392–2400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Keeley ER (2001) Demographic responses to food and space competition by juvenile steelhead trout. Ecology 82:1247–1259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kline TC Jr, Goering JJ, Mathisen OA, Poe PH, Parker PL (1990) Recycling of elements transported upstream by runs of Pacific Salmon: δ15N and δ13C evidence in Sashin Creek, southeastern Alaska. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 47:136–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Legendre P, Legendre V (1984) Postglacial dispersal of freshwater fishes in the Quebec peninsula. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 41:1781–1802CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lenormand S, Dodson JJ, Ménard A (2004) Seasonal and ontogenetic patterns in the migration of anadromous brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis). Can J Fish Aquat Sci 61:65–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. MacCrimmon HR, Gotts BL, Campbell JS (1971) World distribution of brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis: further observation. J Fish Res Board Can 28:452–456Google Scholar
  45. McCormick SD (1994) Ontogeny and evolution of salinity tolerance in anadromous salmonids: hormones and heterochrony. Estuaries 17:26–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. McCormick SD, Naiman RJ (1985) Hypoosmoregulation in an anadromous teleost: influence of sex and maturation. J Exp Zool 234:193–198CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. McDowall RM (2002) The origin of the salmonid fishes: marine, freshwater… or neither? Rev Fish Biol Fish 11:171–1792CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McLaughlin RL (2001) Behavioural diversification in brook charr: adaptive responses to local conditions. J Anim Ecol 70:325–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. McLaughlin RL, Ferguson MM, Noakes DLG (1999) Adaptive peaks and alternative foraging tactics in brook charr: evidence of short-term divergent selection for sitting-and-waiting and actively searching. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 45:386–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Meisner JD (1990) Effect of climatic warming on the southern margins of the native range of brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 47:1065–1070CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Milner NJ, Elliott JM, Armstrong JD, Gardiner R, Welton JS, Ladle M (2003) The natural control of salmon and trout populations in streams. Fish Res 62:111–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Monk WA, Curry RA (2009) Ecological significance of spatial and temporal variability in stream temperatures across north-eastern North America. Challenges for diadromous fishes in a dynamic global environment. Am Fish Soc Symp 69:215–230Google Scholar
  53. Montgomery WL, McCormick SD, Naiman RJ, Whoriskey FG Jr, Black G (1990) Anadromous behavior of brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis) in the Moisie River, Quebec. Pol Arch Hydriobiol 37:43–61Google Scholar
  54. Morinville GR, Rasmussen JB (2003) Early juvenile bioenergetic differences between anadromous and resident brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). Can J Fish Aquat Sci 60:401–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Morinville GR, Rasmussen JB (2006) Does life-history variability in salmonids affect habitat use by juveniles? A comparison among streams open and closed to anadromy. J Anim Ecol 75:693–704CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Morita K, Arai T, Kishi D, Tsuboi J (2005) Small anadromous Salvelinus malma at the southern limits of its distribution. J Fish Biol 66:1187–1192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Mucha JM (2005) Habitat use, movement patterns, and home ranges of coaster brook trout in Nipigon Bay, Lake Superior. Unpublished MSc Thesis, Lakehead University, Thunder BayGoogle Scholar
  58. Naiman RJ, McCormick SD, Montgomery WL, Morin R (1987) Anadromous brook charr, Salvelinus fontinalis: opportunities and constraints for population enhancement. Mar Fish Rev 49:1–13Google Scholar
  59. Olsen J, Wuttig K, Fleming D, Kretschmer E, Wenburg J (2006) Evidence of partial anadromy and resident-form dispersal bias on a fine scale in populations of Oncorhynchus mykiss. Conserv Genet 7:613–619CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Perry GML, Audet C, Bernatchez L (2005) Maternal genetic effects on adaptive divergence between anadromous and resident brook charr during early life history. J Evol Biol 18:1348–1361CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Pettersson JC, Hansen MM, Bohlin T (2001) Does dispersal from landlocked trout explain the coexistence of resident and migratory trout females in a small stream? J Fish Biol 58:487–495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Power G (1980) The brook charr, Salvelinus fontinalis. In: Balon EK (ed) Charrs: salmonid fishes of the Genus Salvelinus. Dr. W. Junk, The Hague, pp 141–203Google Scholar
  63. Power G (2002) Charrs, glaciations, and season ice. Environ Biol Fish 64:17–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Power G, Pope GF, Coad BW (1973) Postglacial colonization of the Matamek River, Quebec, by fishes. J Fish Res Board Can 30:1586–1589Google Scholar
  65. Power G, Cunjak RA, Flannagan J, Katopodis C (1993) Biological effects of river ice. In: Prowse TD, Gridley NC (eds) Environmental aspects of river ice. National Hydrology Research Institute, Science Report 5, pp 97–125Google Scholar
  66. Prowse TD, Wrona FJ, Reist JD, Gibson JJ, Hobbie JE, Lévesque LMJ, Vincent WF (2006) Historical changes in Arctic freshwater ecosystems. Ambio 35:339–345CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  67. Quinn TP, Myers KW (2004) Anadromy and the marine migrations of Pacific salmon and trout: Rounsefell revisited. Rev Fish Biol Fish 14:421–442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Quinn NMW, Korver RM, Hicks FJ, Monroe BP, Hawkins RR (1994) An empirical model of lentic brook trout. N Am J Fish Manag 14:692–709CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Rogers SM, Curry RA (2004) Genetic population structure of brook trout inhabiting a large river watershed. Trans Am Fish Soc 113:1138–1149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Rosenfeld JS, Hatfield T (2006) Information needs for assessing critical habitat of freshwater fish. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 63:683–698CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Rounsefell G (1957) Anadromy in North American salmonidae. Fish Bull US Fish Wildl Serv 131:171–185Google Scholar
  72. Ryther JH (1997) Anadromous brook trout: biology, status and enhancement. Trout Unlimited, Inc, VirginiaGoogle Scholar
  73. Schmidt RE (1986) Zoogeography of the northern Appalachians. In: Hocutt CH, Wiley EO (eds) The zoogeography of North American freshwater fishes. Wiley, New York, pp 137–159Google Scholar
  74. Scott WB, Crossman EJ (1973) Freshwater fishes of Canada. Bulletin 184. Fisheries Research Board of Canada, OttawaGoogle Scholar
  75. Smith RL, Saunders JW (1958) Movements of the brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis (Mitchill), between and within fresh and salt water. J Fish Res Board Can 15:1403–1449Google Scholar
  76. St. Laurent J (2007) Caractérisation de la population anadrome d’omble de fontaine estivant dans l’estuaire de la Rivière Petite Cascapédia. Unpublished MSc thesis, L’Université du Québec á Rimouski, RimouskiGoogle Scholar
  77. Thériault V, Dodson JJ (2003) Body size and the adoption of a migratory tactic in brook charr. J Fish Biol 63:1144–1156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Thériault V, Bernatchez L, Dodson JJ (2007a) Mating system and individual reproductive success of sympatric anadromous and resident brook charr, Salvelinus fontinalis, under natural conditions. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 62:51–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Thériault V, Garant D, Bernatchez L, Dodson JJ (2007b) Heritability of life-history tactics and genetic correlation with body size in a natural population of brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis). J Evol Biol 20:2266–2277CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  80. Thériault V, Dunlop ES, Dieckmann U, Bernatchez L, Dodson JJ (2008) The impact of fishing-induced mortality on the evolution of alternative life-history tactics in brook charr. Evol Appl 1:409–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Thorpe JE (1993) Impacts of fishing on genetic structure of salmonid populations. In: Cloud JG, Thorgaard GH (eds) Genetic conservation of salmonid fishes. Plenum, New York, pp 67–80Google Scholar
  82. Thower FP, Hard JJ, Joyce JE (2004) Genetic architecture of growth and early life-history transitions in anadromous and derived freshwater populations of steelhead. J Fish Biol 65(Supplement A):286–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Trotter PC (1989) Coastal cutthroat trout: a life history compendium. Trans Am Fish Soc 118:463–473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. van de Sande J (2004) Seasonal movement patterns and habitat use of anadromous brook charr in freshwater, estuarine and marine environments. Unpublished MSc thesis, University of New Brunswick, FrederictonGoogle Scholar
  85. van den Berghe EP, Gross MR (1986) Length of breeding life of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). Can J Zool 64:1482–1486CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Vladykov VD (1956) Fecundity of wild speckled trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in Quebec Lakes. J Fish Res Board Can 13:799–841Google Scholar
  87. White HC (1941) Migrating behavior of sea-running Salvelinus fontinalis. J Fish Res Board Can 5:258–264Google Scholar
  88. Whoriskey FG Jr, Naiman RJ, Montgomery WL (1981) Experimental sea ranching of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis, Mitchill). J Fish Biol 19:637–651CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Allen Curry
    • 1
    Email author
  • Louis Bernatchez
    • 2
  • Fred WhoriskeyJr.
    • 3
  • Céline Audet
    • 4
  1. 1.Canadian Rivers InstituteUniversity of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada
  2. 2.Institut de Biologie Intégrative et des Systèmes (IBIS)Université LavalQuebec CityCanada
  3. 3.Atlantic Salmon FederationSt. Andrew’sCanada
  4. 4.Institut des Sciences de la mer de RimouskiUniversité du Québec à RimouskiRimouskiCanada

Personalised recommendations