Genetic and maternal effects on juvenile survival and fitness-related traits in three populations of Atlantic salmon

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Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences





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Although studies addressing natural selection have primarily focused on additive genetic effects because of their direct relationship with responses to selection, nonadditive genetic and maternal effects can also significantly influence phenotypes. We partitioned the phenotypic variance of survival and fitness-related traits in juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) from three allopatric populations (LaHave, Sebago, and Saint-Jean) into additive genetic, nonadditive genetic, and maternal environmental effects using a full-factorial breeding design. We also modelled the potential increase in offspring performance if nonrandom mating (e.g., mate choice) is considered instead of random mating. The three populations exhibited significant differences in trait values as well as the genetic architecture of the traits. Nevertheless, nonadditive genetic and maternal environmental effects tended to be larger than the additive genetic effects. There was also a shift from maternal environmental to genetic effects during development in two of the populations. That is, maternal environmental effects were larger at early (egg and alevin) life stages, whereas nonadditive effects were larger at the later (fry) life stage. The amount of additive genetic effects was small, suggesting the traits will respond slowly to selection. We discuss how different maternal environmental effects across years may influence the genetic architecture of offspring traits.