Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Hatchery Reform Science Projects


Dr. Barry Berejikian
Program Manager
Staff Directory

Methow River steelhead project

Reduced fitness of hatchery steelhead spawning in the natural environment is a pressing conservation concern for ESA-listed populations. Hatchery steelhead are typically reared for release as yearling smolts, rather than age-2 or age-3 that is more typical in nature. High growth rates needed to produce yearling smolts have been linked to maladaptive behavioral and physiological traits, and may constitute a primary mechanism leading to reduced fitness in hatchery fish.

This study has two primary objectives: 1) improve survival and reduce fitness loss in Columbia River steelhead smolts by minimizing unnatural selection on body size and other smolt characteristics, and 2) identify behavioral and physiological traits under selection through laboratory-scale research.


Chris Tatara, Penny Swanson, Barry Berejikian, Jeff Atkins, Jon Dickey (University of Washington), Mollie Middleton (University of Washington), Don Larsen

Recent Publications

Berejikian, B.A., D.A. Larsen, P. Swanson, M.E. Moore, C.P. Tatara, W.L. Gale, C.R. Pasley, and B.R. Beckman. 2012. Development of natural growth regimes for hatchery-reared steelhead to reduce residualism, fitness loss, and negative ecological interactions. Env. Biol. Fish. 94(1): 29-44.