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Change in individual growth rate and its link to gill-net fishing in two sympatric whitefish species

Abstract

Size-selective fishing is expected to affect traits such as individual growth rate, but the relationship between the fishery-linked selection differentials and the corresponding phenotypic changes is not well understood. We analysed a 25-year monitoring survey of sympatric populations of the two Alpine whitefish Coregonus albellus and C. fatioi. We determined the fishing-induced selection differentials on growth rates, the actual change of growth rates over time, and potential indicators of reproductive strategies that may change over time. We found marked declines in adult growth rate and significant selection differentials that may partly explain the observed declines. However, when comparing the two sympatric species, the selection differentials on adult growth were stronger in C. albellus while the decline in adult growth rate seemed more pronounced in C. fatioi. Moreover, the selection differential on juvenile growth was significant in C. albellus but not in C. fatioi, while a significant reduction in juvenile growth over the last 25 years was only found in C. fatioi. Our results suggest that size-selective fishing affects the genetics for individual growth in these whitefish, and that the link between selection differentials and phenotypic changes is influenced by species-specific factors.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the Fishery Inspectorate of the Bern Canton for providing the monitoring data, E. Baumgartner for technical help, E. Clark, C. Küng, T. Mehner, R. Müller, M. Pompini, A. Ross-Gillespie, M. dos Santos, R. Stelkens, J. Van Buskirk, and two anonymous reviewers for discussion and/or comments on the manuscript, and the Swiss National Science Foundation for financial support.

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Correspondence to Sébastien Nusslé.

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Nusslé, S., Bréchon, A. & Wedekind, C. Change in individual growth rate and its link to gill-net fishing in two sympatric whitefish species. Evol Ecol 25, 681–693 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10682-010-9412-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10682-010-9412-3

Keywords

  • Rapid evolution
  • Artificial selection
  • Salmonid
  • Coregonus
  • Selection differential
  • Lake Brienz (Switzerland)