Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 447–460

Increased intrinsic growth rate is advantageous even under ecologically stressful conditions in coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch)

Original Paper


Growth rate is an ecologically important trait, affecting the energy acquisition from, and provisioning to, the surrounding community. One of many costs suggested to counteract the evolution of increased intrinsic growth rate is an associated reduction in tolerance to conditions of nutrient stress. Here we test this concept with individuals possessing experimentally increased intrinsic growth rates (growth hormone transgenic coho salmon, Oncorhynchus kisutch) relative to wild genotypes. Using a series of three experiments, survival and growth of both genotypes were assessed on a physiological and behavioral level while varying food abundance, social interactions, and predation risk. Only in complete absence of exogenous food in newly emerged fry did the high intrinsic growth rate appear costly with a shorter average survival time compared to wild-type (Exp. 1). In experiment 2, genotypes with elevated intrinsic growth showed equal or higher survival and growth than wild-type genotypes In a third experiment, adding very limited amounts of food and allowing for social interactions in a simulated natural environment benefited transgenic individuals relative to wild-types, but at similar magnitudes in both the absence and presence of predators. Populations with transgenic individuals present did not crash under these competitive conditions as previously reported when studied in simple environments where hiding and attack escape were not possible. Our data suggest that transgenic fish have a greater scope for growth under most conditions, but are not obligated to use this capability. Physiological (e.g. appetite and conversion efficiency) and behavioral traits (e.g. competitive ability and risk-taking) found previously to correlate positively with intrinsic growth rate in the transgenic strain likely aided in their survival and growth, even under food limited conditions. Hence, at least in coho salmon, intrinsic growth rate does not appear to strongly affect survival under nutrient stress.


Transgenic Genetically modified Nutrient stress Predation Starvation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DFO/UBC Centre for Aquaculture and Environmental ResearchFisheries and Oceans CanadaWest VancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of Animal Ecology/Evolutionary Biology CentreUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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