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  • Large numbers of hatchery salmon spawn in wild populations each year. Hatchery fish with multiple generations of hatchery ancestry often have heritably lower reproductive success than wild fish and may reduce the fitness of an entire population. Whether this reduced fitness also occurs for hatchery fish created with local- and predominantly wild-origin parents remains controversial. Here, we review recent studies on the reproductive success of such ‘early-generation’ hatchery fish that spawn in the wild. Combining 51 estimates from six studies on four salmon species, we found that (i) early-generation hatchery fish averaged only half the reproductive success of their wild-origin counterparts when spawning in the wild, (ii) the reduction in reproductive success was more severe for males than for females, and (iii) all species showed reduced fitness due to hatchery rearing. We review commonalities among studies that point to possible mechanisms (e.g., environmental versus genetic effects). Furthermore, we illustrate that sample sizes typical of these studies result in low statistical power to detect fitness differences unless the differences are substantial. This review demonstrates that reduced fitness of early-generation hatchery fish may be a general phenomenon. Future research should focus on determining the causes of those fitness reductions and whether they lead to long-term reductions in the fitness of wild populations.
  • Keywords: salmon, captive breeding, hatcheries, relative reproductive success, fitness, domestication
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