Salmon Follow Watery Odors Home

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Science  22 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5440, pp. 705-706
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5440.705

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Researchers are beginning to understand how salmon form the critical olfactory memories that guide them home from the sea to the streambeds where they hatched years before. They are uncovering the physiological changes that prepare young salmon for olfactory imprinting and learning when in the animals' life cycles those changes occur. They are also gleaning clues to the biochemical basis of imprinting. This information could help save endangered salmon species and perhaps some other fish that use olfactory homing.