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Research article2005Peer reviewedOpen access

Extensive immigration from compensatory hatchery releases into wild Atlantic salmon population in the Baltic sea: spatio-temporal analysis over 18 years

Vasemagi A, Gross R, Paaver T, Koljonen ML, Nilsson J


Genetic homogenization has been recognized as a serious threat in an increasing number of species, including many salmonid fishes. We assessed the rate and impact of immigration from the main hatchery stocks of Atlantic salmon in the Gulf of Bothnia into one of the largest wild salmon populations in the Baltic Sea, the River Vindelalven, within a temporal framework of 18 years (from 1985-2003). We provide genetic evidence based on mtDNA and microsatellite markers, using mixed-stock analysis, that a large proportion (66%) of fin-damaged spawners (n=181) caught in the Ume/Vindelalven during 1997-2003 originated from the hatcheries in the Rivers Angermanalven, Lulealven and Ljusnan. The maximum-likelihood estimate of immigration rate from these hatcheries into the wild Vindelalven population was 0.068 (95% CI 0.021-0.128) over the studied time period (1985-2003) and reached up to a quarter (m=0.249, 95% CI 0.106-0.419) of the total population during 1993-2000. This resulted in significant (P<0.01) genetic homogenization trend between the wild Vindelalven population and hatchery stocks of the Angermanalven and Lulealven. Our results demonstrate extensive straying from geographically distant hatchery releases into wild salmon population and emphasize the genetic risks associated with current large-scale stocking practices in the Baltic Sea

Published in

2005, Volume: 95, number: 1, pages: 76-83 Publisher: NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP

      SLU Authors

    • Vasemägi, Anti

      • Department of Aquaculture, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Nilsson, Jan

        • Department of Aquaculture, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Fish and Aquacultural Science

      Publication identifier


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