Harvesting as a potential selective pressure on behavioural traits

Authors

  • Martin Leclerc,

    Corresponding author
    1. Canada Research Chair in Evolutionary Demography and Conservation & Centre for Northern Studies, Département de biologie, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada
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  • Andreas Zedrosser,

    1. Faculty of Technology, Natural Sciences and Maritime Sciences, Department of Natural Sciences and Environmental Health, University College of Southeast Norway, Telemark, Norway
    2. Department of Integrative Biology, Institute of Wildlife Biology and Game Management, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna, Vienna, Austria
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  • Fanie Pelletier

    1. Canada Research Chair in Evolutionary Demography and Conservation & Centre for Northern Studies, Département de biologie, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada
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Summary

  1. Human activities are a major evolutionary force affecting wild populations. Selective pressure from harvest has mainly been documented for life-history and morphological traits. The probability for an individual to be harvested, however, may also depend on its behaviour.

  2. We report empirical studies that examined whether harvesting can exert selective pressures on behavioural traits.

  3. We show that harvest-induced selection on behavioural traits is not specific to a particular harvest method and can occur throughout the animal kingdom.

  4. Synthesis and applications. Managers need to recognize that artificial selection caused by harvesting is possible. More empirical studies integrating physiological, behavioural, and life-history traits should be carried out to test specific predictions of the potential for harvest-induced selection on heritable traits using models developed in fisheries. To limit selective pressure on behaviour imposed by harvesting, managers could reduce harvest quotas or vary harvest regulations over time and/or space to reduce the strength of selection on a particular phenotype.

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