• acid tolerance;
  • F1;
  • F2;
  • hybridization;
  • local adaptation;
  • outbreeding depression;
  • pH;
  • phenotypic plasticity;
  • reaction norm;
  • risk assessment


Interbreeding between artificially-selected and wild organisms can have negative fitness consequences for the latter. In the Northwest Atlantic, farmed Atlantic salmon recurrently escape into the wild and enter rivers where small, declining populations of wild salmon breed. Most farmed salmon in the region derive from an ancestral source population that occupies a nonacidified river (pH 6.0–6.5). Yet many wild populations with which escaped farmed salmon might interbreed inhabit acidified rivers (pH 4.6–5.2). Using common garden experimentation, and examining two early-life history stages across two generations of interbreeding, we showed that wild salmon populations inhabiting acidified rivers had higher survival at acidified pH than farmed salmon or F1 farmed-wild hybrids. In contrast, however, there was limited evidence for reduced performance in backcrosses, and F2 farmed-wild hybrids performed better or equally well to wild salmon. Wild salmon also survived or grew better at nonacidified than acidified pH, and wild and farmed salmon survived equally well at nonacidified pH. Thus, for acid tolerance and the stages examined, we found some evidence both for and against the theory that repeated farmed-wild interbreeding may reduce adaptive genetic variation in the wild and thereby negatively affect the persistence of depleted wild populations.