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A tale of two hatcheries: Assessing bias in the hatchery process for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.)

Selly SC, Hickey J & Stevens JR (2014) A tale of two hatcheries: Assessing bias in the hatchery process for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.), Aquaculture, 434, pp. 254-263.

Stock enhancement of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salarL.), a fish of considerable economic and social importance, is commonplace. Supportive-breeding is a well-recognised method of enhancement which, when compared with traditional hatchery practices, is thought to reduce the severity of selection pressures on broodstock fish. Critically, in supportive-breeding programmes, the eggs and sperm used in the breeding process are taken from wild adult fish originating from the same catchment that resulting juvenile fish are subsequently stocked into, thereby avoiding problems associated with a lack of local adaptation in the stocked fish. Previous studies have indicated that sex bias during the hatchery process may result in reduced genetic diversity of the offspring. Utilising 16 microsatellite loci and two expressed sequence tag (EST) loci, we examined progeny from two hatcheries located on the rivers Exe and Tamar in southwest England, assessing the genetic diversity and parental contribution at each. Two strains were assessed within each hatchery. Genetic diversity was found to be reduced in offspring compared with that of the parent fish. This is likely the result of utilising a small number of broodstock in combination with parental bias. In the four hatchery strains studied (Bar, LEx, Lyd and TXL), parental contribution ranged between 2.1 and 29.2%, 12.2–51.0%, 2.0–70.0% and 4.0–40.0%, respectively. If this practice is to be continued, efforts should be made to improve adherence to national rearing guidelines by increasing the number of broodstock fish utilised and ensuring a more balanced contribution of all adults during the crossing process. Ultimately, we suggest a need to review the suitability of current national Atlantic salmon hatchery guidelines, particularly with regard to their use and relevance in small European rearing systems.

Salmo salar; Supportive-breeding; Genetic diversity; Broodstock; Parental bias

AuthorsSelly Sarah-Louise Counter, Hickey John, Stevens Jamie R
Publication date20/10/2014
Publication date online12/08/2014
Date accepted by journal31/07/2014
ISSN 0044-8486

Aquaculture: Volume 434

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