• Open Access

Hybridization effects on phenotypic plasticity: experimental compensatory growth in farmed-wild Atlantic salmon


Matthew R. J. Morris, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada.
Tel.: 1-403-210-9697;
fax: 1-403-289-9311;
e-mail: mr.morris@ucalgary.ca


Compensatory growth (CG) is a means by which organisms can increase their growth rate above their routine growth rate after a period of environmentally induced growth depression. Despite a focus on the implications of CG for aquaculture, little research has evaluated the effect of domesticated–wild hybridization on CG. Any deviation in the mean compensatory ability of hybrids relative to their wild progenitors, or any notable costs to compensation in terms of body morphology, could affect the ability of hybrids to persist in changing environments. We compared CG of farmed, wild and hybrid (F1, F2, wild backcross) juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Wild salmon experienced both lower routine and CG rates relative to farmed salmon, while hybrids were intermediate. However, the compensatory responses (slopes of the reaction norms) for each cross were parallel, indicating that hybridization did not affect the CG response itself. Morphological costs to compensation were not detected. In addition to contributing to risk assessments of the consequences of interbreeding between wild and escaped domesticated organisms, we conclude that plasticity studies on domesticated–wild hybrids and their progenitors are useful for testing basic predictions about the evolution of phenotypic plasticity, as well as understanding the evolutionary significance of hybrids.