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Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences


Aquaculture practices continuously seek to improve efficiency to produce larger fish at lower cost. Selective breeding within brood stocks can result in undesirable effects, promoting hatcheries to use outbreeding to increase or maintain genetic diversity. This practice however, could result in the introduction of wild behavioural phenotypes unable to adapt to captive living conditions. Using four hatchery first-generation hybrid crosses and two fully domesticated stocks of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in British Columbia, we examined behavioural responses to common aquaculture practices such as abrupt environmental change and novel feed types in juvenile fish. Controlling for mass, we found crosses varied in their behaviours to a novel setting and preferences for natural versus commercial diets. These differences were furthermore associated with rearing environment and stock-level growth rate and body size. Our results suggest selecting for phenotypes that behaviourally exhibit better coping mechanisms and greater flexibility in response to change is possible, and when in combination with growth metrics, should be an integral part of producing the desired farmed fish. Behaviours that allow commercial anadromous fish to easily transition to captive environmental conditions can benefit production and also animal welfare.



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