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Consequences to fitness‐related traits of hybridization between farmed and wild Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar

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Introgression between wild and farmed Atlantic salmon Salmo salar has been hypothesized to influence the persistence of wild populations, particularly those at heightened risk of extinction. Based on pure and hybrid crosses involving one farmed and two wild populations (Tusket River and Stewiacke River, an endangered population) in a common‐garden environment, we examined the consequences of introgression to survival, growth, and disease resistance in the first year of life. Introgression with farmed salmon had either no effect (Stewiacke) or a negative effect (Tusket) on survival. Importantly, the among‐family variance in survival (a negative correlate of population persistence) was higher for the hybrids than it was among the pure crosses. There was also evidence of genetic differences in growth rate and disease susceptibility. Introgression with their farmed counterparts is unlikely to have a positive effect on the fitness of wild Atlantic salmon. The degree to which genetic interactions between farmed and wild salmon threaten the latter's persistence almost certainly depends on the degree to which individuals are adapted to their local environment, on the genetic differentiation between farmed and wild individuals, and on the relative proportions of farmed and wild salmon during spawning.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4J1, Canada

Publication date: 01 December 2004

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