, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 240-244
Date: 22 Oct 2004

Offspring genetic diversity increases fitness of female Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)

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Abstract

Inbreeding has negative effects on individual and population performances. Therefore, enhancement of offspring genetic diversity is believed to play a major role in shaping mating systems. However, no study has clearly separated the direct effect of having multiple partners from the indirect effect of having more outbred offspring on the resulting reproductive success of individuals in the wild. In this study, we report significant associations between both multiple mating and within-individual genetic diversity of offspring, and an increased reproductive success of wild female Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar. Specifically, we found that females with a higher number of mates also have more outbred offspring (within-individuals), and that both of these characteristics increased their reproductive success expressed in terms of offspring surviving when combining all freshwater juvenile stages. Our findings also indicate that determinants of fitness are different among sexes as within-individual offspring genetic diversity was not a strong predictor of male reproductive success, while the number of mates was important. We also show that females mated with more outbred males than on average, which potentially increased their chances of producing outbred offspring. These results therefore suggest that there could be more important indirect genetic benefits of multiple mating for females than for males.

Communicated by M. Abrahams