, Volume 74, Issue 12, pp 2842-2860

A Systematic Overview of Harvesting-Induced Maturation Evolution in Predator–Prey Systems with Three Different Life-History Tradeoffs

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Abstract

There are concerns that anthropogenic harvesting may cause phenotypic adaptive changes in exploited wild populations, in particular maturation at a smaller size and younger age. In this paper, we study the evolutionarily stable size at maturation of prey subjected to size-selective harvesting in a simple predator–prey model, taking into account three recognized life-history costs of early maturation, namely reduced fecundity, reduced growth, and increased mortality. Our analysis shows that harvesting large individuals favors maturation at smaller size compared to the unharvested system, independent of life-history tradeoff and the predator’s prey-size preference. In general, however, the evolutionarily stable maturation size can either increase or decrease relative to the unharvested system, depending on the harvesting regime, the life-history tradeoff, and the predator’s preferred size of prey. Furthermore, we examine how the predator population size changes in response to adaptive change in size at maturation of the prey. Surprisingly, in some situations, we find that the evolutionarily stable maturation size under harvesting is associated with an increased predator population size. This occurs, in particular, when early maturation trades off with growth rate. In total, we determine the evolutionarily stable size at maturation and associated predator population size for a total of forty-five different combinations of tradeoff, harvest regime, and predated size class.