Early-life history characteristics of sea-run and resident salmonid fishes that co-exist in sympatry are poorly understood. To assess differences in characteristics of offspring of these two strategies following their emergence to the stream, stable isotope ratios (δ13C and δ15N) were used to identify the progeny of resident and sea-run female brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in a tributary of the Miramichi River, New Brunswick, Canada. Upon emergence, sea-run progeny captured in emergence traps were longer, heavier, and had higher carbon to nitrogen ratios (C/N, an indicator of lipid content) than resident progeny, but did not have a higher body condition. After some feeding and growth in the stream, sea-run progeny (still identifiable by their δ13C and δ15N) captured in dip-nets became longer, heavier, had higher C/N, and had higher condition than resident progeny. The proportion of fish caught in dip nets at sites where the two forms co-existed was dominated by offspring of sea-run females (sea-run = 56%, resident = 19%, unknown = 25%). These analyses suggest that offspring of sea-run, female trout benefit from maternally derived energy reserves gained at sea and thus have potential adaptive advantages over offspring of residents.
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