Hatchery selection promotes boldness in newly hatched brown trout (Salmo trutta): implications for dominance
By using newly hatched (approximately 2 weeks old) brown trout (Salmo trutta) from six families of wild and six families of sea-ranched origin (seventh generation), we tested the hypotheses that (1) the hatchery environment selects for increased boldness, and (2) boldness predicts dominance status. Sea-ranched trout spend their first 2 years in the hatchery before being released into the wild at the onset of seaward migration. Trout were presented with a novel object (tack) and with food (brine shrimp), and their responses were measured and scored in terms of boldness. Siblings with increasing difference in boldness were then paired in dyadic contests. Fish of sea-ranged origin were on average bolder than were fish of wild origin, and bolder individuals were more likely to become dominant regardless of origin. Boldness was not related to RNA levels, indicating that bold behavior was not a consequence of higher metabolism or growth rate. Neither was size a predictor of bold behavior or the outcome of dyadic contests. These results are consistent with studies on older life stages showing increased boldness toward predators in hatchery-selected fish, which suggests that behavioral consequences of hatchery selection are manifested very early in life. The concordance between boldness and dominance may suggest that these behaviors are linked in a risk prone-aggressive phenotype, which may be promoted by hatchery selection. However, we also found significant variation in behavioral and growth-related traits among families, suggesting that heritable variation has not been exhausted by sea-ranching procedures.