Skip header navigation

University of Stirling

×

Article

Fitness reduction and potential extinction of wild populations of Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar, as a result of interactions with escaped farm salmon

Citation
McGinnity P, Prodohl PA, Ferguson A, Hynes RA, o Maoileidigh N, Baker N, Cotter D, O'Hea B, Cooke D, Rogan G, Taggart J & Cross T (2003) Fitness reduction and potential extinction of wild populations of Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar, as a result of interactions with escaped farm salmon. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 270 (1532), pp. 2443-2450. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2003.2520

Abstract
The high level of escapes from Atlantic salmon farms, up to two million fishes per year in the North Atlantic, has raised concern about the potential impact on wild populations. We report on a two-generation experiment examining the estimated lifetime successes, relative to wild natives, of farm, F1 and F2 hybrids and BC1 backcrosses to wild and farm salmon. Offspring of farm and ‘hybrids' (i.e. all F1, F2 and BC1 groups) showed reduced survival compared with wild salmon but grew faster as juveniles and displaced wild parr, which as a group were significantly smaller. Where suitable habitat for these emigrant parr is absent, this competition would result in reduced wild smolt production. In the experimental conditions, where emigrants survived downstream, the relative estimated lifetime success ranged from 2% (farm) to 89% (BC1 wild) of that of wild salmon, indicating additive genetic variation for survival. Wild salmon primarily returned to fresh water after one sea winter (1SW) but farm and ‘hybrids' produced proportionately more 2SW salmon. However, lower overall survival means that this would result in reduced recruitment despite increased 2SW fecundity. We thus demonstrate that interaction of farm with wild salmon results in lowered fitness, with repeated escapes causing cumulative fitness depression and potentially an extinction vortex in vulnerable populations.

Keywords
escaped farm salmon; common garden experiment; DNA profiling; outbreeding depression; lifetime success; extinction vortex

Journal
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences: Volume 270, Issue 1532

StatusPublished
Author(s)McGinnity, Philip; Prodohl, Paulo A; Ferguson, Andrew; Hynes, Rosaleen A; o Maoileidigh, Niall; Baker, Natalie; Cotter, Deirdre; O'Hea, Brendan; Cooke, Declan; Rogan, Ger; Taggart, John; Cross, Tom
Publication date07/12/2003
PublisherThe Royal Society
ISSN0962-8452
Scroll back to the top