Early-life history stages

Adaptation (P) matching environment (E).
From Garcia de Leaniz et al. (2007).

Globally, Atlantic salmon is composed of genetically different populations living in ecologically different environments. Many Atlantic salmon populations are said to be 'locally adapted' in that they have the genetics for high performance in their local (home) environment.

Traits related to fitness, such as survival and size, may be influenced by genetics and the environment. If the traits, have a large genetic component, then certain populations and individuals can be selected for restoration efforts.


This study will examine the performance of three populations at early-life stages. Performance will be measured directly as survival and indirectly using measures known to affect body size. Larger body size has been associated with increased survival at later life stages in salmonids.

Atlantic salmon offspring will be placed into a common-garden environment (similar environment for all offspring) using the water of a Southern Lake Ontario stream at natural temperatures. Variation of the measures will be divided into genetic effects (additive and non-additive effects) and maternal effects (egg quality).

Atlantic salmon hatchlings (alevins)

The traits measured during the experiment are:

  • Survival (every two days)
  • Hatching time (number hatched everyday during the hatching period)
  • Egg diameter, mass, and contents (fat, protein, energy)
  • Length at hatch and yolk sac volume at hatch
  • Length at yolk absorption
  • Specific growth rate and yolk sac conversion efficiency


He X, Houde ALS, Neff BD, Heath DD. 2017. Genetic architecture of gene transcription in two Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) populations. Heredity 119: 117-124. |PDF|

Houde ALS, Black CA, Wilson CC, Pitcher TE, Neff, BD. 2015. Genetic and maternal effects on juvenile survival and fitness-related traits in three populations of Atlantic salmon. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 72: 751-758. |PDF|

Houde ALS, Wilson CC, Neff BD. 2013. Genetic architecture of fitness-related traits in two populations of Atlantic salmon. Heredity 111: 513-519. |PDF|


Garcia de Leaniz CG, Fleming IA, Einum S, Verspoor E, Jordan WC, Consuegra S, Aubin-Horth N, Lajus D,Letcher BH, Youngson AF, Webb JH, Vollestad LA, Villanueva B, Ferguson A, Quinn TP. 2007. A critical review of adaptive genetic variation in Atlantic salmon: implications for conservation. Biol Rev 82: 173-211. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-185X.2006.00004.x.



Research Projects

Pacific salmon
gene expression

Lake Ontario
Atlantic salmon



Last updated January 2018
© Aimee Lee Houde