We compared agonistic behavior of newly emerged coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) between hatchery and wild populations using mirror image stimulation tests. We used hatchery populations from two different regions of Vancouver Island, B.C., [Canada], each matched with a wild population from its region. In both comparisons, hatchery juveniles were more aggressive than wild juveniles. Rates of aggressive display increased with time since emergence for both hatchery and wild fish, as did the differences in behavior between the two types. By the sixth day of observation (13 d postemergence), the overall effect of fish type was highly significant for all aggressive behaviors. Since the individuals compared were reared from eggs under identical conditions, these differences are presumably genetic. Comparisons involved relatively few families from each population. However, because heritability was moderate to low within populations, and variance between population types exceeded variance among families within populations, these results indicate real differences at the population level. These results may have important implications for programs to rebuild wild populations using hatchery transplants and for selective breeding programs to develop domestic stocks of coho.
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