Ecological model of interactions between escaped and wild Atlantic salmon Salmo salar

Authors: Stephens, A.1; Cooper, A. B.2

Source: Journal of Fish Biology, Volume 65, Supplement 1, December 2004 , pp. 323-323(1)

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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Atlantic salmon in Maine were once abundant but have become depleted, and are listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. Historically, salmon numbers in Maine may have been as high as 100 000 adults, but habitat loss, pollution and overfishing have contributed to the decline of the species. In 2000, only 110 adults returned to spawn in Maine rivers. Maine produces c. 15 000 metric tons/year of aquacultured Atlantic salmon from a total of nearly 600 coastal net pens. Escapees from these pens may interact with the wild salmon. The dynamics of salmon populations under such conditions are poorly understood. In order to illuminate the role aquaculture may play in such a system, we have developed a model for simulating population trajectories for both wild salmon and competing populations derived from aquaculture escapes. The model simulates a small population of wild salmon based in a stream/estuary system, into which an aquaculture facility is losing fish to escapes. Biological parameters in the model were estimated as much as possible from data in the USFWS report on Maine salmon. We used the model to investigate the consequences of a variety of ecological interactions between the wild and cultured fish including competitive, genetic and disease effects. Initial results indicate that many of these effects allow the aquaculture‐derived population to supplant the wild fish, but that wild populations may still persist under some conditions.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Ocean Sciences Ph.D. Program, Mangel Lab, Applied Math and Statistics, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, U.S.A.; 2: College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, University of New Hampshire, Taylor Hall, Durham, NH 03824, U.S.A.

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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