Research Article: A Synthesis of Tagging Studies Examining the Behaviour and Survival of Anadromous Salmonids in Marine Environments

Date Published: March 14, 2012

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): S. Matthew Drenner, Timothy D. Clark, Charlotte K. Whitney, Eduardo G. Martins, Steven J. Cooke, Scott G. Hinch, A. Peter Klimley.


This paper synthesizes tagging studies to highlight the current state of knowledge concerning the behaviour and survival of anadromous salmonids in the marine environment. Scientific literature was reviewed to quantify the number and type of studies that have investigated behaviour and survival of anadromous forms of Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.), Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), brown trout (Salmo trutta), steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii). We examined three categories of tags including electronic (e.g. acoustic, radio, archival), passive (e.g. external marks, Carlin, coded wire, passive integrated transponder [PIT]), and biological (e.g. otolith, genetic, scale, parasites). Based on 207 papers, survival rates and behaviour in marine environments were found to be extremely variable spatially and temporally, with some of the most influential factors being temperature, population, physiological state, and fish size. Salmonids at all life stages were consistently found to swim at an average speed of approximately one body length per second, which likely corresponds with the speed at which transport costs are minimal. We found that there is relatively little research conducted on open-ocean migrating salmonids, and some species (e.g. masu [O. masou] and amago [O. rhodurus]) are underrepresented in the literature. The most common forms of tagging used across life stages were various forms of external tags, coded wire tags, and acoustic tags, however, the majority of studies did not measure tagging/handling effects on the fish, tag loss/failure, or tag detection probabilities when estimating survival. Through the interdisciplinary application of existing and novel technologies, future research examining the behaviour and survival of anadromous salmonids could incorporate important drivers such as oceanography, tagging/handling effects, predation, and physiology.

Partial Text

Literature searches were carried out using two commercial academic search engines, ISI Web of Knowledge and Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts, with a focus on peer-reviewed journal articles published in the English language as early as 1900 and extending to September 2011. We used combinations of key terms to focus search results on literature that used tagging as a method to study movement, behaviour, or survival in marine ecosystems of anadromous salmon within the genera Oncorhynchus and Salmo. Specifically, we focused on research of anadromous forms of Pacific salmon (pink, sockeye, Chinook, coho, chum, amago, masu), Atlantic salmon, as well as anadromous brown and sea trout, steelhead, and cutthroat trout (see Appendix S1 for exact Boolean search terms).