• Open Access

Early male maturity explains a negative correlation in reproductive success between hatchery-spawned salmon and their naturally spawning progeny


  • Editor 
    Marc Mangel

Michael Ford, National Marine Fisheries Service, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Conservation Biology Division, 2725 Montlake Blvd E, Seattle, WA 98112, USA. Tel: 206-860-5612; fax: 206–860-3335. E-mail: mike.ford@noaa.gov


Adaptation of plants or animals to captivity is a risk associated with any captive breeding program that has the intent of returning organisms to the wild. The risk is particularly acute for species that are captively bred and released on a large scale, as is the case for many species of fish. Several studies, particularly in salmonids, have reported rapid adaptation of populations to captivity, but the mechanisms of such adaptations are not always clear. We evaluated a large three-generation pedigree of an artificially supplemented salmon population, and found that the fish with the highest reproductive success in captivity produce early maturing male offspring that have lower than average reproductive success in the wild. In contrast to an earlier study of steelhead trout, we found little evidence that parental origin of the captive spawners influenced the subsequent reproductive success of their naturally spawning progeny.