Riley, W. D., Ibbotson, A. T., Gregory, S. D. et al. 2018. Under what circumstances does the capture and tagging of wild Atlantic salmon Salmo salar smolts affect probability of return as adults? Journal of Fish Biology 93(3), 477-489.
Adult return rates for wild Atlantic salmon Salmo salar smolts captured in a rotary screw trap and tagged with coded wire (CW) tags were compared with a control group, using detections from passive integrated transponder (PIT) antennae systems over 7 years in a small chalk stream in southern England, U.K. Compared with control smolts, capture and CW-tagging of experimental smolts affected detected return rates only under certain conditions, with a decreased return probability for smolts caught and tagged following mild winter river temperature anomalies and during the night. Similarly, analysis of the experimental smolts revealed that capture and CW-tagging following mild winters decreased their probability of return as adults. There were also marginal positive effects of length at PIT-tagging as parr and length at CW-tagging as smolts, on individual probability of return as adult. The results support the hypothesis that the effect of procedures involving the capture and tagging of migrating wild S. salar smolts will vary with the circumstances under which they are performed. The implications of the findings are considered in the context of ongoing investigations to derive and report marine return rates for S. salar in support of national and international stock assessments and in developing best practice.