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Trends Ecol Evol. 2007 Dec;22(12):652-9. Epub 2007 Nov 5.

Detecting and managing fisheries-induced evolution.

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Department of Mathematics and Statistics, PO Box 68, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


Exploitation of fish populations can induce evolutionary responses in life histories. For example, fisheries targeting large individuals are expected to select for early maturation at smaller sizes, leading to reduced fecundity and thus also reduced fisheries yield. These predicted phenotypic shifts have been observed in several fish stocks, but disentangling the environmental and genetic causes behind them has proved difficult. Here, we review recent studies investigating phenotypic shifts in exploited populations and strategies for minimizing fisheries-induced evolution. Responses to selective harvesting will depend on species-specific life-history traits, and on community-level and environmental processes. Therefore, the detection of fisheries-induced evolution and successful fish stock management requires routine population monitoring, and a good understanding of genetics, relevant ecological processes and changing environmental conditions.

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