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PLoS One. 2009 May 27;4(5):e5529. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005529.

Intense habitat-specific fisheries-induced selection at the molecular Pan I locus predicts imminent collapse of a major cod fishery.

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Institute of Biology, University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland.


Predation is a powerful agent in the ecology and evolution of predator and prey. Prey may select multiple habitats whereby different genotypes prefer different habitats. If the predator is also habitat-specific the prey may evolve different habitat occupancy. Drastic changes can occur in the relation of the predator to the evolved prey. Fisheries exert powerful predation and can be a potent evolutionary force. Fisheries-induced selection can lead to phenotypic changes that influence the collapse and recovery of the fishery. However, heritability of the phenotypic traits involved and selection intensities are low suggesting that fisheries-induced evolution occurs at moderate rates at decadal time scales. The Pantophysin I (Pan I) locus in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), representing an ancient balanced polymorphism predating the split of cod and its sister species, is under an unusual mix of balancing and directional selection including current selective sweeps. Here we show that Pan I alleles are highly correlated with depth with a gradient of 0.44% allele frequency change per meter. AA fish are shallow-water and BB deep-water adapted in accordance with behavioral studies using data storage tags showing habitat selection by Pan I genotype. AB fish are somewhat intermediate although closer to AA. Furthermore, using a sampling design covering space and time we detect intense habitat-specific fisheries-induced selection against the shallow-water adapted fish with an average 8% allele frequency change per year within year class. Genotypic fitness estimates (0.08, 0.27, 1.00 of AA, AB, and BB respectively) predict rapid disappearance of shallow-water adapted fish. Ecological and evolutionary time scales, therefore, are congruent. We hypothesize a potential collapse of the fishery. We find that probabilistic maturation reaction norms for Atlantic cod at Iceland show declining length and age at maturing comparable to changes that preceded the collapse of northern cod at Newfoundland, further supporting the hypothesis. We speculate that immediate establishment of large no-take reserves may help avert collapse.

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