Naturally spawning hatchery steelhead contribute to smolt production but experience low reproductive success

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adult, adults, competition, COUNTS, DAM, experience, Fish, genetic, habitat, habitats, Hatcheries, hatchery, history, introduced, LIFE, life history, LIFE-HISTORIES, life-history, mortalities, mortality, native, NUMBER, Oncorhynchus, Oncorhynchus mykiss, ONCORHYNCHUS-MYKISS, Oregon, population, population decline, POPULATION DECLINES, production, rearing, REPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS, river, smolt, smolt production, smolts, spawning, Spawning grounds, steelhead, SUCCESS, summer, wild

Journal or Book Title

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society


We used genetic mixture analyses to show that hatchery summer-run steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss, an introduced life history in the Clackamas basin of Oregon, where only winter-run steelhead are native, contributed to the naturally produced smolts out-migrating from the basin. Hatchery-produced summer steelhead smolts were released starting in 197 1, and returning adults were passed above a dam into the upper Clackamas River until 1999. In the 2 years of our study, summer steelhead adults, mostly hatchery fish, made up 60% to 82% of the natural spawners in the river. Genetic results provided evidence that interbreeding between hatchery summer and wild winter steelhead was likely minor. Hatchery summer steelhead reproductive success was relatively poor. We estimated that they produced only about one-third the number of smolts per parent that wild winter steelhead produced. However, the proportions of summer natural smolts were large (36-53% of the total naturally produced smolts in the basin) because hatchery adults predominated on the spawning grounds during our study. Very few natural-origin summer adults were observed, suggesting high mortality of the naturally produced smolts following emigration. Counts at the dam demonstrated that hatchery summer steelhead predominated on natural spawning grounds throughout the 24-year hatchery program. Our data support a conclusion that hatchery summer steelhead adults and their offspring contribute to wild winter steelhead population declines through competition for spawning and rearing habitats. [References: 37]







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