, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 1469-1483
Date: 26 Jul 2011

Analysis of gene origin in the first adult returns to the Cultus sockeye salmon captive breeding program

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Rigorous evaluation of the utility of captive breeding for the restoration of depleted wild salmonid fish populations has not been undertaken. In particular, little is known about the reproductive success of captively-bred individuals that are released back into an extant population and their capacity to assist in long-term population persistence. For the endangered Cultus Lake sockeye salmon population, we examined the potential genetic contribution of the first juvenile fish released from a captive breeding program upon their maturity in the natural Cultus Lake environment. Genetic analysis of 792 Cultus sockeye salmon that were spawned in captivity in 2004 and their adult progeny of 2007 and 2008 revealed a genetic bottleneck originating from 20 wild sockeye salmon hatchery-spawned at Cultus Lake in the previous generation. Pedigree analysis revealed that six of the 20 sockeye salmon spawned in 2001 (grandparents) gave rise to a majority of the hatchery spawners in 2004 (parents) and provided more than 30% of the genes in the progeny that survived to maturity in the wild. Allele frequencies and genetic diversity of the age three progeny that returned to Cultus Lake from their marine migration in 2007 reflected the bottleneck, but its genetic signature was faint among the more genetically diverse age four fish that returned in 2008. Two-generation analysis of gene origin among fish resulting from 2004 hatchery production indicated that they contained the genetic diversity expected from 36 effective ancestors.