Among Pacific salmon collected in the St. Marys River, five natural hybrids of pink salmon Oncorhynchus gorbuscha and chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha and one suspected backcross have been detected using morphologic, meristic, and color evidence. One allozyme (LDH, l-lactate dehydrogenase from muscle) and one nuclear DNA locus (growth hormone) for which species-specific fixed differences exist were analyzed to detect additional hybrids and to determine if introgression had occurred. Restriction fragment length polymorphism of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was used to identify the maternal parent of each hybrid. Evidence of introgression was found among the five previously identified hybrids. All hybrid specimens had chinook salmon mtDNA, indicating that hybridization between chinook salmon and pink salmon in the St. Marys River is asymmetric and perhaps unidirectional. Ecological, physiological, and sexual selection forces may contribute to this asymmetric hybridization. Introgression between these highly differentiated species has implications for management, systematics, and conservation of Pacific salmon.
Additional publication details
Asymmetric hybridization and introgression between pink salmon and chinook salmon in the Laurentian Great Lakes