Does harvest select for maladaptation in an increasingly variable world?

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

Proceedings of the National Academy of Science



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For several plant and animal species, Darimont et al. (1) present compelling evidence that rates of phenotypic change driven by human harvest far outpace those driven by other selective forces. From a life-history perspective, commercial and trophy harvesting also resulted in smaller size/earlier age at first reproduction, smaller adult body size (sometimes associated with shorter lifespan), and increased reproductive investment. Selection for these traits can mold life histories with faster reproductive tempos that, not surprisingly, can increase maximum yield (in numbers of individuals) under the assumption of a constant environment. In a world in which climatic conditions are predicted to become increasingly variable (2), however, commercial and trophy harvesting practices may be culling the very traits that would be most adaptive in the future.

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