Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 8706
Title: Evidence of Olfactory Imprinting at an Early Life Stage in Pink Salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha)
Author: N. N. Bett, Scott Hinch, Sang-Seon Yun, Andrew H. Dittman
Publication Year: 2016
Journal: Scientific Reports
DOI: 10.1038/srep36393
Keywords: imprinting,pink salmon

Pacific salmon navigate towards their spawning grounds using olfactory cues that they imprinted on as juveniles. The timing at which imprinting occurs has been studied extensively, and there is strong evidence that salmon imprint on their natal water during the parr-smolt transformation (PST). Researchers have noted, however, that the life histories of some species of Pacific salmon could necessitate imprinting prior to the PST. Juvenile pink salmon spend less time in fresh water than any other species of Pacific salmon, and presumably must imprint on their natal water at a very young age. The time at which imprinting occurs in this species, however, has not been experimentally tested. We exposed juvenile pink salmon as alevins to phenethyl alcohol (PEA) or control water, reared these fish to adulthood, and then tested their behavioural responses to PEA to determine whether the fish successfully imprinted. We found that pink salmon exposed to PEA as alevins were attracted to the chemical as adults, suggesting that imprinting can occur during this stage. Our finding provides some of the first evidence to support the long-standing belief that imprinting can occur in Pacific salmon prior to the PST. 


Imprinting in Pink salmon

Theme: Recovery and rebuilding of marine and coastal species
Foci: Develop methods to use physiological, biological and behavioral information to predict population-level processes.
Characterize the population biology of species, and develop and improve methods for predicting the status of populations.