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Ecol Lett. 2007 Jun;10(6):512-21.

Four decades of opposing natural and human-induced artificial selection acting on Windermere pike (Esox lucius).

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  • 1Department of Biology, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), University of Oslo, Blindern, Oslo, Norway.


The ability of natural selection to drive local adaptation has been appreciated ever since Darwin. Whether human impacts can impede the adaptive process has received less attention. We tested this hypothesis by quantifying natural selection and harvest selection acting on a freshwater fish (pike) over four decades. Across the time series, directional natural selection tended to favour large individuals whereas the fishery targeted large individuals. Moreover, non-linear natural selection tended to favour intermediate sized fish whereas the fishery targeted intermediate sized fish because the smallest and largest individuals were often not captured. Thus, our results unequivocally demonstrate that natural selection and fishery selection often acted in opposite directions within this natural system. Moreover, the two selective factors combined to produce reduced fitness overall and stronger stabilizing selection relative to natural selection acting alone. The long-term ramifications of such human-induced modifications to adaptive landscapes are currently unknown and certainly warrant further investigation.

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