Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 94, Issue 1, pp 29–44 | Cite as

Development of natural growth regimes for hatchery-reared steelhead to reduce residualism, fitness loss, and negative ecological interactions

  • Barry A. Berejikian
  • Donald A. Larsen
  • Penny Swanson
  • Megan E. Moore
  • Christopher P. Tatara
  • William L. Gale
  • Chris R. Pasley
  • Brian R. Beckman


Wild steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) typically spend two or more years in freshwater before migrating to sea, but hatchery steelhead are almost ubiquitously released as yearlings. Their large size at release coupled with life history pathways that include both male and female maturation in freshwater present ecological risks different from those posed by hatchery populations of Pacific salmon. Yearling hatchery reared steelhead that fail to attain minimum thresholds for smoltification or exceed thresholds for male maturation tend to ‘residualize’ (i.e., remain in freshwater). Residuals pose ecological risks including size-biased interference competition and predation on juvenile salmon and trout. Three hatchery populations of steelhead in Hood Canal, WA were reared under growth regimes designed to produce a more natural age at smoltification (age-2) to aid in rebuilding their respective natural populations. Mean smolt sizes and size variability at age-2 were within the range of wild smolts for two of the three populations. The third population reared at a different facility under similar temperatures exhibited high growth rate variability and high male maturation rates (20% of all released fish). Experimentally comparing age-1 and age-2 smolt programs will help identify optimal rearing strategies to reduce the genetic risk of domestication selection and reduce residualism rates and associated negative ecological effects on natural populations. Investigations of Winthrop National Fish Hatchery summer-run steelhead will measure a) selection on correlated behavioral traits (‘behavioral syndromes’), b) degree of smoltification, c) changes in hormones that regulate gonad growth at key developmental stages, and d) conduct extensive post-release monitoring of fish reared under each growth regime.


Steelhead trout Fitness Domestication Ecological interactions Residualism Hatchery 



We wish to thank C. Chisam (USFWS Winthrop NFH), E. Jouper and staff at the WDFW McKernan Hatchery, R. Endicott, J. Lee-Waltermire, J. Moore (Long Live the Kings) D. Magneson and staff at the USFWS Quilcene National Fish Hatchery, M. McHenry and staff from the US Forest Service, T. Sjostrom, S. Hilderbrant and volunteers from the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group for their help with spawning, egg collections and fish rearing.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry A. Berejikian
    • 1
  • Donald A. Larsen
    • 2
  • Penny Swanson
    • 2
  • Megan E. Moore
    • 1
  • Christopher P. Tatara
    • 1
  • William L. Gale
    • 3
  • Chris R. Pasley
    • 4
  • Brian R. Beckman
    • 2
  1. 1.NOAA Fisheries, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Manchester Research StationManchesterUSA
  2. 2.NOAA Fisheries, Northwest Fisheries Science CenterSeattleUSA
  3. 3.US Fish and Wildlife Service, Mid-Columbia River Fishery Resource OfficeLeavenworthUSA
  4. 4.US Fish & Wildlife Service, Winthrop National Fish HatcheryWinthropUSA

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