Journal Article

Cultured Atlantic salmon in nature: a review of their ecology and interaction with wild fish

Bror Jonsson and Nina Jonsson

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 63, issue 7, pages 1162-1181
Published in print January 2006 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2006 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Cultured Atlantic salmon in nature: a review of their ecology and interaction with wild fish

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  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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When cultured Atlantic salmon are released into nature, they compete with wild fish for food, space, and breeding partners. As a result of morphological, physiological, ecological, and behavioural changes that occur in hatcheries, their comp etitive ability often differs from that of wild fish. These changes are partly phenotypic and partly genetic. Cultured juveniles' faster growth rate influences age and size at smolting and maturity, reproductive output, and longevity. Fast-growing parr tend to smolt younger, produce more but smaller eggs, attain maturity earlier, and die younger. Juvenile learning influences a number of behavioural traits, and differences in early experience appear to affect feeding and spawning success, migratory behaviour, and homing ability. Genetic change in hatcheries is chiefly the result of natural selection, with differential mortality among genotypes and broodstock selection based on production traits such as high adult body mass and fast growth rate. Experimental evidence has revealed that cultured parr's greater aggression often allows them to dominate wild parr, although smaller cultured parr can be subordinated if they co-occur in fast-flowing water and if wild smolts have established prior residence. During spawning, the fitness of wild salmon is superior to that of cultured conspecifics. Cultured males are inferior to wild males in intra-sexual competition, courting, and spawning; cultured females have greater egg retention, construct fewer nests, and are less efficient at covering their eggs in the substratum than their wild counterparts. In rivers, the early survival of cultured offspring is lower than that of their wild counterparts. The lifetime reproductive success of farmed fish has been estimated at 17% that of similar-sized wild salmon. As a result of ecological interaction and through density-dependent mechanisms, cultured fish may displace wild conspecifics to some extent, increase their mortality, and decrease their growth rate, adult size, reproductive output, biomass, and production.

Keywords: captive; competition; cultured; density-dependence; farmed Atlantic salmon; hatchery rearing; spawning

Journal Article.  14143 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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