Conserving biodiversity or plundering genetic diversity? What is captive breeding doing to fish populations?

Dec 11, 2008

Human impacts on the environment have reduced populations of wild species to dangerously low levels. Nowhere is this more apparent than in worldwide fisheries, where thanks to overfishing and habitat destruction, countless species and populations of fish are on the brink of disappearing forever. To attempt to mitigate the dire situation, captive breeding, the controlled breeding of organisms in protected environments, is regularly initiated.

Despite its popularity, does captive breeding actually work? In the current issue of Evolutionary Applications (1:4), Dr. Dylan Fraser of Dalhousie University provides a candid look at whether these breeding programs are fulfilling their mandates.

Using salmonids (the economically crucial group of fish that include salmon and trout) to illustrate his point, Fraser questions whether captive breeding is doing more harm than good. In his comprehensive review of over 300 papers, Fraser concludes that fish reared in captivity can rapidly lose the genetic diversity needed to adapt and survive in the wild, and that the rate of loss of diversity can both vary across breeding programs and be species specific. To complicate matters further, Fraser points out that that we simply do not know how captive-bred fish will perform once released back into the wild.

Unfortunately, without captive breeding to bolster their numbers, we may soon have too few individuals from which to repopulate disappearing fish populations, leaving us essentially in a fisheries catch-22.

Fraser concludes that not only do more data on the effects of captive breeding on the genetic diversity of fishes need to be collected, but also that alternatives to captive breeding, such as the live freezing of fish sperm of diverse genetic backgrounds, or the physical relocation of fish populations from one site to another, need more serious consideration.

This paper was publishished in Issue 4, Volume 1 of Evolutionary Applications. Visit this URL to view the free article online: www3.interscience.wiley.com/jo… l/120126564/abstract

Source: Wiley-Blackwell

Explore further: Designer potatoes on the menu to boost consumption

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mexico reports first litter of wolf cubs in the wild

Jul 18, 2014

The first known litter of Mexican gray wolves has been born in the wild as part of a three-year effort to re-introduce the subspecies to a habitat where it disappeared three decades ago, Mexican officials reported Thursday.

The road to sustainable tuna aquaculture

Jul 04, 2014

Domesticating Atlantic Bluefin Tuna may help meet the food industry's demand for this endangered species. However, making such an endeavour sustainable is a challenging task.

Study shows captive breeding no help to endangered woodrat

Jan 24, 2014

(Phys.org) —Captive breeding of the endangered Key Largo woodrat may not be the best solution to preserve the ecologically important rodent, an animal driven to near extinction by development, a new University of Florida ...

Recommended for you

Vietnam's taste for cat leaves pets in peril

35 minutes ago

The enduring popularity of "little tiger" as a snack to accompany a beer in Vietnam means that cat owners live in constant fear of animal snatchers, despite an official ban.

New species of mayfly discovered in India

2 hours ago

Scientists have discovered a new species of mayfly in the southern Western Ghats, a mountain range along the west coast of India. In fact, this is the first time that any mayfly belonging to the genus Labiobaetis has be ...

Giant anteaters kill two hunters in Brazil

Jul 26, 2014

Giant anteaters in Brazil have killed two hunters in separate incidents, raising concerns about the animals' loss of habitat and the growing risk of dangerous encounters with people, researchers said.

Rising temperatures can be hard on dogs

Jul 25, 2014

The "dog days of summer" are here, but don't let the phrase fool you. This hot time of year can be dangerous for your pup, says a Kansas State University veterinarian.

User comments : 0