Habitat-mediated size selection in endangered Atlantic salmon fry: selectional restoration assessment
DOI 10.1111/j.1752-4571.2010.00126.x
  1. captive rearing
  2. hatchery effects
  3. large woody debris
  4. natural selection
  5. otoliths

Preservation of adaptive variation is a top priority of many species restoration programs, but most restoration activities are conducted without direct knowledge of selection that might foster or impair adaptation and restoration goals. In this study, we quantified geographic variation in selection on fry size of endangered Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) during the 6-week period immediately following stocking in the wild. We also used a model selection approach to assess whether habitat variables influence patterns of such selection. We found evidence for significant size-selection in five out of six selection trials. Interestingly, the strength and pattern of selection varied extensively among sites, and model selection suggested that this variation in phenotypic selection was related to geographic variation in the presence of large woody debris and the slope of the stream gradient. The strong selection differentials we observed should be a concern for endangered salmon restoration, whether they reflect natural processes and an opportunity to maintain adaptation, or an indicator of the potentially deleterious phenotypic consequences of hatchery practices.