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Why do salmonid antipredator responses weaken in hatchery rearing?

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The Arctic charr of Lake Saimaa are the most endangered fish population in Finland, and reintroduction programs have been unsuccessful. Low success of reintroduction programs has drawn attention to behavioural properties of hatcheryreared fish. Mortality due to predation often is a principal cause of failure. Antipredator behaviour may degenerate rapidly under hatchery conditions due to (i) reduced genetic variation in antipredator behaviour and/or (ii) selection that would favour bold and fast growing individuals and disfavour predator awareness supposedly associated with slow growth. To test the relative importance of these two factors we first analysed the amount of variation in innate antipredator responses between and within families of hatchery‐bred Arctic charr of the Lake Saimaa stock. We then tested whether fast growing individuals would show reduced responses to chemical cues from their natural predators compared to their slow growing counterparts. Based on the results we propose procedures for maintaining and improving antipredator skills of hatchery‐reared salmonids.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Integrative Ecology Unit, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, P. O. Box 65, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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