Divergent trends in life-history traits between Atlantic salmon Salmo salar of wild and hatchery origin in the Baltic Sea


Author to whom correspondence should be addressed at present address: Section of Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Oulu, Box 3000, FI-90014 University of Oulu, Finland. Tel.: +358 8 5531219; fax: +358 8 5531061; email: anssi.vainikka@oulu.fi


Four Atlantic salmon Salmo salar stocks in the Baltic Sea, varying in their breeding history, were studied for changes in life-history traits over the years 1972–1995. Total length (LT) at age of captured (LTC) fish had increased throughout the study period, partly due to increased temperature and increased LT at release, (LTR) but also due to remaining cohort effects that could represent unaccounted environmental or genetic change. Simultaneously, maturation probabilities controlled for water temperature, LTC and LTR had increased in all stocks. The least change was observed in the River Tornionjoki S. salar that was subject only to supportive stockings originating from wild parents. These results suggest a long-term divergence between semi-natural and broodstock-based S. salar stocks. Increased LT at age explained advanced maturation only marginally, and it remains an open question to what extent the generally increased probabilities to mature at early age reflected underlying genetic changes.