Scheme: Royal Society Research Professorship
Organisation: Imperial College London
Dates: Jul 2012-Jul 2017
Summary: Fisheries and terrestrial wildlife often are subject to intense harvesting that causes unwanted evolution, decreasing both the total numbers (or biomass) harvested and the economic value per individual harvested. A paper from last year won an award from The Wildlife Society for the best paper of the year in any journal. (S. Engen, R. Lande, and B.-E. Sæther. 2014. Evolutionary consequences of non-selective harvesting in density-dependent populations. American Naturalist 184: 714-726.) Our work used mathematical models of a population that fluctuates in numbers and also evolves in response to both natural environmental variability and harvesting. We analyzed how different strategies of harvesting a wild population influence its evolution, when harvesting itself does not select particular phenotypes, e.g. when individual of all sizes are equally subject to harvest. We showed that the most sustainable harvesting strategies from a demographic or ecological point of view also cause the least evolution. We argue that this conclusion also extends to selective harvesting, e.g. of the largest individuals. This supports a growing effort to move management of biological resources away from short-term profit maximization toward long-term sustainability of species and ecosystems as a strategy to maximize ecosystem services for the public good.
Dates: Jul 2007-Jun 2012
Summary: This project summary is not available for publication.