ICES Science Fund

The molecular mechanisms and reversibility of fisheries-induced evolution - an experimental approach

  • ​​​​​​​​​​Lead Scientist: Silva Uusi-Heikkilä, Department of Biology, University of Turku, Finland​​​​​

  • Co-scientist: Robert Arlinghaus​, Department of Biology and Ecology of Fishes, Leibniz-lnstitute of Freshwater Ecology and lnland Fisheries, ​Germany​


  • ​​​Project Objectives:

    Many exploited fish stocks have recently collapsed and evidence is accumulating rapidly that various phenotypic traits and population-level properties have been altered in these stocks. Although fisheries-induced evolution consistently arises as the most parsimonious explanation for the observed life-history changes in exploited stocks, empirical evidence that size-selective fishing can cause genetic changes is largely lacking. 

    A genomic approach will be used to study experimentally whether size-selective harvesting can induce rapid genetic changes and whether these changes are reversible. The results will have considerable scientific and societal importance as little is currently known about the genetic effects of size-selective fishing despite the heavy exploitation of numerous fish stocks. Addressing questions concerning the extent of evolutionary changes, the reversibility of such changes and their consequences for sustainable harvesting, population recovery and species persistence is a vital step towards sustainable fisheries management.

    The proposed plan supports ICES activities by advancing our understanding of the effects of human activities on the aquatic ecosystems, estimating the effect of fisheries selection and producing evidence-based and relevant advice to fisheries management. ​​​​

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    The molecular mechanisms and reversibility of fisheries-induced evolution - an experimental approach

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