Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 343-359

Evolution of yields from populations with age-specific cropping

  • Richard LawAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of York
  • , David R. GreyAffiliated withDepartment of Probability and Statistics, The University

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Age-specific exploitation of a natural population acts as a selective force on genetic variation in life history traits. Evolution arising from this selection may bring about evolutionary changes in the total yield which the population is able to sustain. An analysis of this process is given for a harvested population with densitydependent recruitment, in which selection of life history traits by cropping is independent of density and frequency. Evolution of the total yield depends on an interplay between the yield from an individual over the course of its life and recruitment; whether the total yield increases or decreases depends on the properties of particular populations. Evolution brought about by harvesting does not, in general, lead to the maximization of the total yield. Nonetheless, by appropriate choice of an age-specific harvest pattern, it is possible in principle to select the life history which gives the maximum total yield following evolution; this harvest pattern is called the ‘evolutionarily stable optimal harvesting strategy’ (ESOHS). Results of the analysis are illustrated with data on the Arcto-Norwegian cod.


Evolution exploitation fisheries Gadus morhua life history optimization