Abernathy Fish Technology Center
Pacific Region

Applied Research Program in Conservation Genetics

Capability/Technical Service - Reproductive success of naturally spawning hatchery and naturally occuring fish populations.

Definition. Questions regarding the fitness of hatchery-origin fish relative to that of their wild counterparts have long been of interest to The USFWS and other resource management and conservation entities. Recent advances in genotyping technologies and in the theoretical framework of genetic parentage analysis have allowed researchers to construct pedigrees of all fish sampled within a system and to thus determine the number of progeny and the number of returning adults attributable to hatchery and wild parents. These pedigrees have provided unprecedented insights into the relative reproductive success rates of hatchery and wild salmonids. The ability to directly monitor relative reproductive success of hatchery and wild populations as hatchery broodstock and rearing practices evolve affords novel insights into the impacts of hatchery practices and is a valuable tool toward the goals of hatchery reform.

Sample Projects

1) Genetic Monitoring of Threatened Hatchery and Natural Origin Steelhead in Battle Creek, CA
The Battle Creek, CA, population of steelhead is listed as threatened as part of the Central Valley distinct population segment. Are hatchery-origin fish produced by Coleman NFH directly contributing to, or impeding, the recovery of the Battle Creek ESA listed stock? To answer this question the USFWS is genetically monitoring the natural reproductive success of natural and hatchery-origin steelhead in Battle Creek upstream from the Coleman NFH. The study's goal is to assess the natural reproductive success and genetic contribution of both hatchery and natural origin adult steelhead to returning natural origin adults in Battle Creek. All adults passed upstream are genotyped with a suite of DNA markers. All natural origin adults returning one generation later are also being genotyped. DNA based parentage analysis will allow for the determination of the natural spawning success and progeny return rates of all adults passed upstream to spawn naturally. Hatchery and natural origin steelhead passed upstream at the Coleman NFH were genotyped at a set of 15 microsatellite DNA loci. A total of 1800 adult steelhead have been genotyped. Relative reproductive success of the two groups will be determined via parentage analysis. There are tissue samples from 235 natural origin returning adult progeny to be evaluated in 2007. Partners USFWS Coleman National Fish Hatchery and USFWS Red Bluff Fish and Wildlife Office

Barrier weir at Coleman NFH, CA

2) Recovery and Genetic Monitoring of Chinook Salmon on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, OR
Shitike Creek supports a depressed population of spring Chinook salmon. The USFWS and Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation are attempting to rebuild this stock by outplanting surplus NFH adults from the Warm Springs NFH with the goal that those adults will spawn naturally in Shitike Creek. Surplus adults returning to NFHs are potential source of fish for restoring depressed natural populations. The ability of NFH-origin adults to successfully reproduce in the wild and contribute to natural population recovery is unknown. The objective of the study is to determine the natural spawning success of Warm Springs NFH adult spring Chinook salmon outplanted in Shitike Creek and their ability to contribute to recovery of the population. All NFH-origin adult spring Chinook salmon outplanted into Shitike Creek have been genotyped with a suite of DNA markers, and samples of naturally produced juveniles representing potential offspring are also genotyped. The pedigree relationships between potential parents and offspring will be determined by DNA analyses. Partners Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, USFWS Columbia River Fisheries Program Office

Aerial view of Warms Spings NFH, OR

3) Genetic Monitoring and Broodstock Management of Steelhead at the Eagle Creek NFH
In the second year of a three year study, genetic assignment tests were used to determine the genetic impact of the Eagle Creek NFH fish on the ESA listed native winter-run steelhead. The information gathered from this project will aid managers with assessing genetic risks associated with maintaining the current broodstock at Eagle Creek NFH. The number of non-native Eagle Creek NFH steelhead spawning naturally in Eagle Creek is unknown. The NFH program is managed as a segregated program with the assumption that few, if any, hatchery steelhead spawn in the wild. Determine the reproductive success of Eagle Creek NFH steelhead in the wild. A total of 415 juvenile and 88 adult steelhead were examined from five locations in the Eagle Creek basin. Results of the first two years indicate the majority of the 415 natural-origin steelhead sampled were parented by the ESA listed native winter-run population. Partners USFWS Columbia River Fisheries Program Office USFWS Eagle Creek National Fish Hatchery, USFWS Lower Columbia Fish Health Center

Locations for Eagle Creek NFH genetic sample collections.
Last updated: July 29, 2014
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