Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 69, Issue 1–4, pp 287–297 | Cite as

Outbreeding Depression in Hybrids Between Spatially Separated Pink Salmon, Oncorhynchus gorbuscha, Populations: Marine Survival, Homing ability, and Variability in Family Size

  • Sara E. Gilk
  • Ivan A. Wang
  • Carrie L. Hoover
  • William W. Smoker
  • S.G. Taylor
  • Andrew K. Gray
  • A.J. Gharrett


Hybridization between distinct populations and introgression of nonnative genes can erode fitness of native populations through outbreeding depression, either by producing a phenotype intermediate to that of both contributing genomes (and maladapted in either population's environment) or by disrupting distinct coadapted complexes of epistatic genes. In salmon, fitness-related traits such as homing ability or family-size distribution may be eroded. We investigated geographically separated pink salmon populations in repeated trials in independent broodyears (odd and even). Hybrids were made between female Auke Creek (Southeast Alaska) pink salmon and Pillar Creek (Kodiak Island, ∼1 000 km away) males; hybrids and their offspring were compared to offspring of control crosses of the same females with Auke Creek males. Parentage assignment from microsatellite analysis was used to improve estimates of survival and straying and to examine variation of family size. Hybridization reduced return rates of adults (a proxy for survival at sea) in the F1 generation in the odd-year broodline (p < 0.0001) but not in the even-year broodline (p = 0.678). Hybridization reduced survival in both the odd- and even-broodyear F2 (p < 0.005 and p < 0.0001). Hybridization did not appear to impair homing ability; weekly surveys revealed similar straying rates (∼2%) by both hybrid and control fish into nearby (∼1 km) Waydelich Creek in both generations in both trials. Hybridization did not increase the index of variability (σ2/μ) in family size. Decreased survival in the hybrid F2 generation supports an epistatic model of outbreeding depression; nonepistatic effects may have contributed to reduced survival in the odd-broodyear F1 hybrid fish. Outbreeding depression in hybrids of geographically separated populations demonstrates that introgression of nonnative fish can erode fitness, and should be recognized as a potential detriment of both aquaculture and management practices.

conservation biology local adaptation microsatellites salmonid 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara E. Gilk
    • 1
  • Ivan A. Wang
    • 1
  • Carrie L. Hoover
    • 1
  • William W. Smoker
    • 1
  • S.G. Taylor
    • 2
  • Andrew K. Gray
    • 1
    • 2
  • A.J. Gharrett
    • 1
  1. 1.Fisheries Division, School of Fisheries and Ocean SciencesUniversity of Alaska FairbanksJuneauU.S.A.
  2. 2.Auke Bay Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science CenterNational Marine Fisheries Service, NOAAJuneauU.S.A.

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