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PLoS One. 2010 Aug 19;5(8):e12261. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012261.

Genetic versus rearing-environment effects on phenotype: hatchery and natural rearing effects on hatchery- and wild-born coho salmon.

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Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Centre for Aquaculture and Environmental Research, The University of British Columbia, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


With the current trends in climate and fisheries, well-designed mitigative strategies for conserving fish stocks may become increasingly necessary. The poor post-release survival of hatchery-reared Pacific salmon indicates that salmon enhancement programs require assessment. The objective of this study was to determine the relative roles that genotype and rearing environment play in the phenotypic expression of young salmon, including their survival, growth, physiology, swimming endurance, predator avoidance and migratory behaviour. Wild- and hatchery-born coho salmon adults (Oncorhynchus kisutch) returning to the Chehalis River in British Columbia, Canada, were crossed to create pure hatchery, pure wild, and hybrid offspring. A proportion of the progeny from each cross was reared in a traditional hatchery environment, whereas the remaining fry were reared naturally in a contained side channel. The resulting phenotypic differences between replicates, between rearing environments, and between cross types were compared. While there were few phenotypic differences noted between genetic groups reared in the same habitat, rearing environment played a significant role in smolt size, survival, swimming endurance, predator avoidance and migratory behaviour. The lack of any observed genetic differences between wild- and hatchery-born salmon may be due to the long-term mixing of these genotypes from hatchery introgression into wild populations, or conversely, due to strong selection in nature--capable of maintaining highly fit genotypes whether or not fish have experienced part of their life history under cultured conditions.

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