Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Common-garden comparison of relative survival and fitness-related traits of wild, farm, and hybrid Atlantic salmon Salmo salar parr in nature.

Abstract

When escapee farmed Atlantic salmon Salmo salar interbreed with wild fish, the introgression of maladaptive genes can lower wild population productivity and alter key life history traits. To date, only a few European studies have compared wild, farm, and hybrid salmon under common conditions in the wild, isolating the influence of genetics on survival and fitness-related traits. Here, we examined the performance of experimentally derived Atlantic salmon fry from 4 cross types (wild, farm, and reciprocal F1 hybrids) during the first summer of growth at 3 locations in southern Newfoundland. Overall survival was high, with the cross type rank order consistent across sites (mean percent recaptured: wild-mother hybrids 26.2% ≈ wild 26.0% > farm 19.2% > farm-mother hybrids 12.8%). Wild fish were smaller than wild-mother hybrids and farm fish, though differed less in size from farm-mother hybrids. At 2 out of 3 sites, wild-mother hybrids were larger than wild and farm-mother hybrid fish but had only a small size advantage over farm fish. Shape differences were small and mainly related to body depth, with the largest differences between wild and farm fish. Wild-mother hybrids had fewer parr marks than other cross types at a single site, and though differences in the size of marks were minimal, farm fish tended to have the narrowest marks. Overall, these results show that genetic differences exist for fitness-related traits among wild, farm, and hybrid juveniles, even over short temporal scales and under favourable environmental conditions, and may contribute to patterns of reduced farm-mother hybrid and feral farm survival in the wild.