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Fishing-induced evolution and changing reproductive ecology of fish: the evolution of steepness

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Abstract:

Fishing can induce evolutionary changes in individual life history traits, leading to fish that mature smaller and younger and with larger gonads, so that they reproduce more intensely. The steepness of a stock–recruitment relationship is commonly defined as the fraction of recruitment of an unfished population obtained when the spawning stock biomass is 20% of its unfished level. We use a model of harvest-induced evolutionary change to understand how the steepness of the stock–recruitment relationship changes due to fishing. If the true spawning stock biomass is known, the stock–recruitment relationship changes little under fishing-induced evolution and there is little concern for fisheries management. When management is based on a total biomass – recruitment relationship, recruitment may be underestimated, which is also of little concern from a sustainability perspective. However, when the number of spawners – recruitment relationship is used to forecast recruitment, management practice that ignores the evolution of steepness may overestimate recruitment and therefore recommend catches that exceed safe biological limits. Using outdated maturity ogives underestimates spawning stock biomass, which results in steeper and higher stock–recruitment relationships as life histories evolve. Although of little concern for sustainability, this may pose challenges for practical fisheries management.

La pêche peut provoquer des changements évolutifs dans les traits individuels du cycle biologique et entraîner l’existence de poissons qui atteignent la maturité à un âge plus précoce et une taille réduite, mais avec des gonades plus grandes, si bien que leur reproduction est plus intense. Le degré d’inclinaison de la relation stock–recrutement est couramment définie comme la fraction du recrutement d’une population non exploitée obtenue lorsque la biomasse du stock reproducteur est à 20 % de son niveau non exploité. Nous utilisons un modèle de changement évolutif généré par la récolte pour comprendre comment le degré d’inclinaison de la relation stock–recrutement change à cause de la pêche. Si la véritable biomasse du stock reproducteur est connue, la relation stock–recrutement change peu avec l’évolution causée par la pêche et il y a peu de préoccupations à y avoir pour la gestion de la pêche. Dans les cas où la gestion est basée sur la relation entre la biomasse totale et le recrutement, le recrutement peut être sous-estimé, ce qui est aussi peu préoccupant dans une perspective de durabilité. Cependant, lorsqu’on utilise la relation entre le nombre de reproducteurs et le recrutement pour prédire le recrutement, une méthode de gestion qui ne tient pas compte l’évolution du degré d’inclinaison peut surestimer le recrutement et ainsi recommander des captures qui dépassent les limites biologiques sûres. L’utilisation d’ogives de maturité périmées sous-estime la biomasse du stock reproducteur, ce qui produit des relations stock–recrutement plus abruptes et plus hautes à mesure que les cycles biologiques évoluent. Bien que ce soit peu préoccupant pour la durabilité, la situation peut poser des défis pour la gestion pratique de la pêche.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2010

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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