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Keywords:

  • aquaculture;
  • fisheries management;
  • hybridization;
  • phenotypic plasticity;
  • predator prey interactions

Abstract

We tested the fitness consequences of introgression of fast-growing domesticated fish into a wild population. Fry from wild and domesticated rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) crosses, F1 hybrids, and first- and second-generation backcrosses were released into two natural lakes. Parentage analysis using microsatellite loci facilitated the identification of survivors, so fitness was estimated in nature from the first-feeding stage. Results indicated that under certain conditions, domesticated fish survived at least as well as wild fish within the same environment. Relative growth and survival of the crosses, however, were highly dependent on environment. During the first summer, fastest-growing crosses had the highest survival, but this trend was reversed after one winter and another summer. Although the F1 hybrids showed evidence of outbreeding depression because of the disruption of local adaptation, there was little evidence of outbreeding depression in the backcrosses, and the second-generation backcrosses exhibited a wild-type phenotype. This information is relevant for assessing the multigenerational risk of escaped or released domesticated fish should they successfully interbreed with wild populations and provides information on how to minimize detrimental impacts of a conservation breeding and/or management programme. These data also further understanding of the selection pressures in nature that maintain submaximal rates of growth.