Differential reproductive success and heritability of alternative reproductive tactics in wild Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.)

Evolution. 2003 May;57(5):1133-41. doi: 10.1111/j.0014-3820.2003.tb00322.x.


A critical step in understanding the evolution and maintenance of alternative reproductive tactics is to obtain accurate comparisons of their fitness and to determine factors influencing individual status. In this study, we first used individual multilocus genotypic information to compare reproductive success between two alternative reproductive tactics of anadromous Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) in their natural environments. We also documented the effects of the quality of the rearing environment and of paternal reproductive tactics on heritability of juvenile growth, which is an important component of individual status. Results showed that large dominant salmon (multisea winter) had higher reproductive success than smaller satellite individuals (grilse). Also, there was a status difference associated with both habitat and male tactic. Overall, offspring produced in streams were bigger than those produced in the main river stretch. Grilse also produced bigger offspring than those fathered by multisea winter males. Heritability of juvenile growth was significant but varied according to quality of habitat: higher heritability estimates were observed in higher quality habitats (streams) than in lower quality habitats (main river stretch). Heritability estimates for juvenile growth varied as well, depending on male tactic, with progeny fathered by multisea winter males having higher values than those fathered by grilse. Together, these results indicate that a combination of additive genetic effects, parental life history and habitat quality will ultimately shape juvenile growth rate, which is the main determinant of status and of subsequent choice of life-history tactics.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Canada
  • Environment*
  • Male
  • Paternal Behavior
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Salmo salar / growth & development
  • Salmo salar / physiology*
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal*