Evolutionary pressures under the current fishing practices in European hake (Merluccius merluccius)
Abstract: Abstract There is a rising concern involving the impact of modern fisheries on the dynamics and viability of the exploited fish populations. The increasing fishing pressure has been recorded to cause declines in age and size at maturation in variety of marine fish species. In this study I have aimed to detect heritable phenotypic changes of the European hake (Merluccius merluccius) under the currently prevailing fishing intensity. Using dataset of 64 individual-based growth parameters of the studied species and an individual-based simulation, which incorporates quantitative genetics, ecological processes and biological characteristics, I have simulated ecological and evolutionary dynamics of hake. Species` phenotypic traits were observed through three different scenarios which showed significant ecological consequences for hake population under the current fishing strategies but detected no evolutionary changes in life-history traits, e.g. growth and age and size at maturation. Even though, the current fishing intensity does not appear to select for a specific life-history type, the ecological impact observed under under the current fishing practices can pose a severe risk through direct population declines.
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