Comparative performance of genetically similar hatchery and naturally reared juvenile coho salmon in streams

Justin S. Rhodes, Thomas P. Quinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hatchery-reared salmon have been reported to be inferior to wild fish in some studies and competitively superior in others. We examined the influence of early rearing environment (hatchery versus natural) on the summer survival, movement, and growth of genetically similar juvenile coho salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch in streams. In each of 2 years, 5,000–10,000 fry from a hatchery cohort were placed above barrier falls in each of two streams to rear naturally at low density. The rest were reared at high density in hatchery raceways. After 3 months (late spring), we electrofished the streams, marked the naturally reared salmon caught, and then added equal numbers of marked hatchery-reared salmon to the streams. The streams were electrofished again in the summer to monitor survival, movement, and growth. Hatchery-reared and naturally reared juveniles survived equally well (about 90% survived each summer), and few fish of either rearing type emigrated from the study streams. Hatchery fish were about 10% larger than naturally reared fish at the time of introduction, but there was no evidence for size-related survival in the streams. When adjusted for size, hatchery fish grew at faster rates than naturally reared fish. Our results suggest that hatchery-reared coho salmon perform similarly to naturally reared salmon when introduced into streams in low numbers and with a relatively small size advantage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)670-677
Number of pages8
JournalNorth American Journal of Fisheries Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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