Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 301-319

First online:

Salmonid inbreeding: a review

  • Shizhen WangAffiliated withSchool of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington
  • , Jeffrey J. HardAffiliated withConservation Biology Division, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service
  • , Fred UtterAffiliated withSchool of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington Email author 

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We review the published literature oninbreeding and its consequences in salmonidfishes. Inbreeding reduces genetic variationwithin populations by decreasingheterozygosity, either through an increasedchance of sharing parental genes or a loss ofalleles from random genetic drift. Increasedinbreeding is often associated with a reductionin mean phenotypic value of one or more traitswith respect to fitness (inbreedingdepression). We identify several sources ofinbreeding in salmonids. Although inbreedingoccurs naturally, much of the evidence forinbreeding stems from direct or indirectresults of human activity. The potentialconsequences of inbreeding highlight theimportance of maintaining genetic diversity insalmonid populations. Our weak understandingof genetic interactions between cultured andwild salmonids has allowed widespread practicesthat can reduce genetic variability in naturalpopulations. Although studies have detectedinbreeding depression in salmonids, its geneticbasis has rarely been addressed in wild,anadromous salmon. The genetic basis ofinbreeding depression is complex, andevaluating its effects over the entire lifecycle remains challenging. The experimentalevidence nevertheless reinforces the importanceof maintaining genetic variation withinpopulations as a primary goal of conservationand management.

inbreeding depression inbreeding genetic variation salmon culture salmonids