• Open Access

Supportive breeding boosts natural population abundance with minimal negative impacts on fitness of a wild population of Chinook salmon


Correspondence: Maureen A. Hess, Fax: +1 208 837 6047;E-mail:


While supportive breeding programmes strive to minimize negative genetic impacts to populations, case studies have found evidence for reduced fitness of artificially produced individuals when they reproduce in the wild. Pedigrees of two complete generations were tracked with molecular markers to investigate differences in reproductive success (RS) of wild and hatchery-reared Chinook salmon spawning in the natural environment to address questions regarding the demographic and genetic impacts of supplementation to a natural population. Results show a demographic boost to the population from supplementation. On average, fish taken into the hatchery produced 4.7 times more adult offspring, and 1.3 times more adult grand-offspring than naturally reproducing fish. Of the wild and hatchery fish that successfully reproduced, we found no significant differences in RS between any comparisons, but hatchery-reared males typically had lower RS values than wild males. Mean relative reproductive success (RRS) for hatchery F1 females and males was 1.11 (= 0.84) and 0.89 (= 0.56), respectively. RRS of hatchery-reared fish (H) that mated in the wild with either hatchery or wild-origin (W) fish was generally equivalent to W × W matings. Mean RRS of H × W and H × H matings was 1.07 (= 0.92) and 0.94 (= 0.95), respectively. We conclude that fish chosen for hatchery rearing did not have a detectable negative impact on the fitness of wild fish by mating with them for a single generation. Results suggest that supplementation following similar management practices (e.g. 100% local, wild-origin brood stock) can successfully boost population size with minimal impacts on the fitness of salmon in the wild.