We examined phenotypic variation in growth and development from the eyed-egg stage to the age-1+ smolt stage among five New England populations of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar: East Machias, Narraguagus, Sheepscot, Penobscot, Connecticut) reared in a common laboratory environment. Study populations originated from rivers varying in size, latitude, and level of hatchery supplementation and included one reintroduced population (Connecticut was a recipient of Penobscot origin stock). Phenotypic trait differences were found among populations, and the degree of stock variation depended on ontogeny. Eggs were smaller and hatched sooner in the Penobscot (a northern, intensively managed population), but no stock differences were detected in size or growth efficiency from the onset of exogenous feeding to age 0+ summer. Differences again emerged in age 0+ autumn, with the degree of bimodality in length-frequency distributions differing among stocks; the Connecticut had the highest proportion of upper-mode fish and, ultimately, age-1+ smolts. Although genetic effects could not be entirely separated from maternal effects for egg size variation, it is likely that differences in hatch timing and smolt age had a genetic basis. Early emphasis on age-1+ hatchery-reared smolts in the Connecticut may have led to divergence in smolt age between the Penobscot and Connecticut populations in less than eight generations. ?? 2004 NRC Canada.
Additional Publication Details
Variation in freshwater growth and development among five New England Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) populations reared in a common environment