The signature of fine scale local adaptation in Atlantic salmon revealed from common garden experiments in nature

Ciar L. O'Toole, Thomas E. Reed, Deborah Bailie, Caroline Bradley, Deirdre Cotter, Jamie Coughlan, Tom Cross, Eileen Dillane, Sarah McEvoy, Niall O' Maoileidigh, Paulo Prodöhl, Ger Rogan, Philip McGinnity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
302 Downloads (Pure)


Understanding the extent, scale and genetic basis of local adaptation is important for conservation and management. Its relevance in salmonids at microgeographic scales, where dispersal (and hence potential gene flow) can be substantial, has however been questioned. Here we compare the fitness of communally-reared offspring of local and foreign Atlantic salmon Salmo salar from adjacent Irish rivers and reciprocal F1 hybrid crosses between them, in the wild ‘home’ environment of the local population. Experimental groups did not differ in wild smolt output but a catastrophic flood event may have limited our ability to detect freshwater performance differences, which were evident in a previous study. Foreign parr exhibited higher, and hybrids intermediate, emigration rates from the natal stream relative to local parr, consistent with genetically-based behavioural differences. Adult return rates were lower for the foreign compared to the local group. Overall lifetime success of foreigners and hybrids relative to locals was estimated at 31% and 40% (mean of both hybrid groups), respectively. The results imply a genetic basis to fitness differences among populations separated by only 50km, driven largely by variation in smolt to adult return rates. Hence even if supplementary stocking programs obtain broodstock from neighbouring rivers, the risk of extrinsic outbreeding depression may be high.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)881-900
Number of pages10
JournalEvolutionary Applications
Issue number9
Early online date11 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'The signature of fine scale local adaptation in Atlantic salmon revealed from common garden experiments in nature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this