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The Role of Physiology in the Causes and Consequences of Fisheries-Induced Evolution

Project description

A closer look at physiological traits and fishing pressure

Evidence reveals that intense commercial fishing pressure results in depleting fish stocks and causing evolutionary changes to fish populations. Current research on fisheries-induced evolution has focused almost exclusively on the effects of size-selective harvest on the reproductive potential of wild populations. However, several traits besides body size could render some fish more catchable, increase mortality after discard, and reduce resiliency to environmental change. The EU-funded PHYSFISH project will combine innovative approaches in the laboratory with pioneering acoustic tracking technology to examine whether physiological traits render some individuals more catchable by commercial fishing gears, influence recovery and survival after discard, and determine whether selection on catchability generates changes in physiological features reducing population resiliency.

Objective

There is increasing evidence that intense commercial fishing pressure is not only depleting fish
stocks but also causing evolutionary changes to fish populations with serious consequences for the viability
of marine fish communities. Although current research on fisheries-induced evolution (FIE) has focused
almost exclusively on the effects of size-selective harvest on reproductive potential of wild populations, there
are a range of traits besides body size which could also affect the selectivity of fishing gears but which have
not been investigated. For example, overlooked within the context of FIE is the likelihood that, within a
given species, variation in physiological traits among individuals – and especially those related to energy
balance (e.g. metabolic rate) and swimming performance (e.g. aerobic scope) – could make some fish more
catchable or more likely to suffer mortality after discard. Selection on these traits could produce major shifts
in the fundamental structure and function of fish in response to fishing pressure that are yet to be considered
but which could directly determine population resource requirements, resiliency, geographic distributions,
and responses to environmental change. This pioneering project will combine innovative approaches in the
laboratory with cutting-edge acoustic tracking technology in the field to address this gap in knowledge with
three main goals: (1) to examine whether physiological traits make some individuals more catchable by
commercial fishing gears, and whether the environment modulates such effects; (2) to investigate the extent
to which physiological traits influence recovery and survival after escape from fishing gear or discard; and
(3) to determine whether selection on catchability generates changes in physiological traits that reduce
population resiliency or erode the ability to cope with environmental change. Given that several fisheries
have not recovered despite lengthy moratoriums, there is a pressing nee

Host institution

UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW
Net EU contribution
€ 1 499 880,00
Address
UNIVERSITY AVENUE
G12 8QQ Glasgow
United Kingdom

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Region
Scotland West Central Scotland Glasgow City
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
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Total cost
€ 1 499 880,00

Beneficiaries (1)