The evolutionary legacy of size-selective harvesting extends from genes to populations

Silva Uusi-Heikkilä, Andrew R. Whiteley, Anna Kuparinen, Shuichi Matsumura, Paul A. Venturelli, Christian Wolter, Jon Slate, Craig R. Primmer, Thomas Meinelt, Shaun S. Killen, David Bierbach, Giovanni Polverino, Arne Ludwig, Robert Arlinghaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

92 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Size-selective harvesting is assumed to alter life histories of exploited fish populations, thereby negatively affecting population productivity, recovery, and yield. However, demonstrating that fisheries-induced phenotypic changes in the wild are at least partly genetically determined has proved notoriously difficult. Moreover, the population-level consequences of fisheries-induced evolution are still being controversially discussed. Using an experimental approach, we found that five generations of size-selective harvesting altered the life histories and behavior, but not the metabolic rate, of wild-origin zebrafish (Danio rerio). Fish adapted to high positively size selective fishing pressure invested more in reproduction, reached a smaller adult body size, and were less explorative and bold. Phenotypic changes seemed subtle but were accompanied by genetic changes in functional loci. Thus, our results provided unambiguous evidence for rapid, harvest-induced phenotypic and evolutionary change when harvesting is intensive and size selective. According to a life-history model, the observed life-history changes elevated population growth rate in harvested conditions, but slowed population recovery under a simulated moratorium. Hence, the evolutionary legacy of size-selective harvesting includes populations that are productive under exploited conditions, but selectively disadvantaged to cope with natural selection pressures that often favor large body size.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-620
Number of pages24
JournalEvolutionary Applications
Volume8
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes

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