Physiology and Behaviour of Salmon Offspring

With a bit of expertise, the right facilities, and a lot of patience and hard work, it is possible to rear salmon eggs from fertilization all the way to the 1-2 year-old smolt stage.  Our lab has completed numerous projects that involved traveling to spawning grounds throughout British Columbia, collecting the sperm and eggs of spawning salmon, and rearing their offspring here at UBC. With this approach we can ask questions about intergenerational effects. Do some mothers produce better offspring than others? Do stressed spawning salmon produce inferior offspring? Does water temperature during incubation affect offspring survival? We answer these questions by monitoring survival and measuring behavioural and physiological traits at different life stages of salmon development. Our lab uses a swim flume (analogous to a tread mill for humans) to test the swimming ability of young salmon from different mothers, populations, or species. We also look at morphological (body size, fin size), behavioural (aggression, predator avoidance, feeding), and physiological (stress hormones, metabolism) differences among offspring. In addition to adding to our understanding of salmon biology, we have used fish reared at UBC to validate and refine the transmitter implantation methods our lab uses for tracking salmon smolts in the wild.

Selected Publications

Banet, A.I., Healy, S.J., Eliason, E.J., Roualdes, E.A., Patterson, D.A., Hinch, S.G. 2019. Simulated maternal stress reduces offspring aerobic swimming performance in Pacific salmon. Conservation Physiology. 7 (1), coz095,

Eliason, E.J., Gale, M.K., Whitney, C.K., Lotto, A., Hinch, S.G. 2017. Intraspecific differences in endurance swim performance and cardiac size in sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) fry. Canadian Journal of Zoology 95(6):425-432.

Healy, S.J., Hinch, S.G., Porter, A.D., Rechisky, E.L., Welch, D.W., Eliason, E.J., Lotto, A.G., Furey, N.B. 2017. Route-specific movements and survival during early marine migration of hatchery steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) smolts in coastal British Columbia. Marine Ecology Progress Series 577:131-147.

Sopinka, N.M., Hinch, S.G., Middleton, C.T., Hills, J.A., Patterson, D.A. (2014) Mother knows best, even when stressed? Effects of maternal exposure to a stressor on offspring performance at different life stages in a wild semelparous fish. Oecologia 175:493-500.

Sopinka, N,M., Hinch, S.G., Lotto, A.G., Whitney, C.K., Patterson, D.A. (2013) Does among-population variation in burst swimming performance of sockeye salmon Onchorhynchus nerka fry reflect early life migrations? Journal of Fish Biology.

Whitney, C.K., Hinch, S.G., Patterson, D.A. (2013) Provenance matters: thermal reaction norms for embryo survival among sockeye salmon Onchorhynchus nerka populations. Journal of Fish Biology 82:1159-1176.

Burt, J.M., Hinch, S.G., Patterson, D.A. (2012) Developmental temperature stress and parental identity shape offspring burst swimming performance in sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka). Ecology of Freshwater Fish 21: 176-188.

Nadeau, P.S., Hinch, S.G., Pon, L.B., Patterson, D.A. (2009) Persistent parental effects on the survival and size, but not burst swimming performance of juvenile sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka. Journal of Fish Biology, 75: 538-551.

For other publications, please see our Publications page.