U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Conserv Genet (2012) 13:1183–1193; DOI 10.1007/s10592-012-0363-9


Snake River sockeye salmon spawning in Redfish Lake, Idaho are one of the most endangered taxa of Pacific salmon. The wild population nearly went extinct in the 1990s, and all surviving fish were incorporated into a captive broodstock program at that time. We used pedigree analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of the breeding program in retaining genetic variation from 1991 through 2008. Broodstock records document which males were crossed with which females, but fish from multiple crosses were frequently raised in the same tank so the exact pedigree of the population is unknown. Therefore, a simulation- based approach was used to estimate how much genetic diversity was retained by this breeding program. Results indicate that in 2008, after 5.5 generations of breeding, the average inbreeding coefficient was probably about 0.056. We estimated the inbreeding effective population size to be 41 over the entire program and 115 for the most recent generation. This amount of inbreeding is substantially less than has occurred in many high-profile captive breeding programs. Our results depend on several assumptions regarding the relatedness of fish in the breeding program, but simulations suggest our main results are relatively insensitive to these assumptions.