Artificial Selection and Environmental Change: Countervailing Factors Affecting the Timing of Spawning by Coho and Chinook Salmon

  • Quinn T
  • Peterson J
  • Gallucci V
 et al. 
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Spawning date is a crucial life history trait in fishes, linking parents to their offspring, and it is highly heritable in salmonid fishes. We examined the spawning dates of coho salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch and chinook salmon O. tshawytscha at the University of Washington (UW) Hatchery for trends over time. We then compared the spawning date patterns with the changing thermal regime of the Lake Washington basin and the spawning patterns of conspecifics at two nearby hatcheries. The mean spawning dates of both species have become earlier over the period of record at the UW Hatchery (since the 1950s for chinook salmon and the 1960s for coho salmon), apparently because of selection in the hatchery. Countering hatchery selection for earlier spawning are the increasingly warmer temperatures experienced by salmon migrating in freshwater to, and holding at, the hatchery. Spawning takes place even earlier at the Soos Creek Hatchery, the primary ancestral source of the UW populations, and at the Issaquah Creek Hatchery. Both species of salmon have experienced marked shifts towards earlier spawning at Soos Creek and Issaquah Creek hatcheries despite the expectation that warmer water would lead to later spawning. Thus, inadvertent selection at all three hatcheries appears to have resulted in progressively earlier spawning, overcoming selection from countervailing temperature trends.

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  • Thomas P. Quinn

  • Jeramie A. Peterson

  • Vincent F. Gallucci

  • William K. Hershberger

  • Ernest L. Brannon

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