Undesirable Evolutionary Consequences of Trophy Hunting

Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.
Nature (Impact Factor: 41.46). 01/2004; 426(6967):655-8. DOI: 10.1038/nature02177
Source: PubMed


Phenotype-based selective harvests, including trophy hunting, can have important implications for sustainable wildlife management if they target heritable traits. Here we show that in an evolutionary response to sport hunting of bighorn trophy rams (Ovis canadensis) body weight and horn size have declined significantly over time. We used quantitative genetic analyses, based on a partly genetically reconstructed pedigree from a 30-year study of a wild population in which trophy hunting targeted rams with rapidly growing horns, to explore the evolutionary response to hunter selection on ram weight and horn size. Both traits were highly heritable, and trophy-harvested rams were of significantly higher genetic 'breeding value' for weight and horn size than rams that were not harvested. Rams of high breeding value were also shot at an early age, and thus did not achieve high reproductive success. Declines in mean breeding values for weight and horn size therefore occurred in response to unrestricted trophy hunting, resulting in the production of smaller-horned, lighter rams, and fewer trophies.

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    • "In those models which also exhibit the greatest evolutionary change, we also impose selection that is stronger than typically observed in the field. We consequently caution against claims of evolution in a generation or two (Coltman et al. 2003) as likely being flawed given our results suggest a few tens of generations are required before compelling evidence of evolution is likely to be detectable (see also Hadfield et al. (2010)). "
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    ABSTRACT: 1) Micro-evolutionary predictions are complicated by ecological feedbacks like density dependence, while ecological predictions can be complicated by evolutionary change. A widely used approach in micro-evolution, quantitative genetics, struggles to incorporate ecological processes into predictive models, while structured population modelling, a tool widely used in ecology, rarely incorporates evolution explicitly. 2) In this paper we develop a flexible, general framework that links quantitative genetics and structured population models. We use the quantitative genetic approach to write down the phenotype as an additive map. We then construct integral projection models for each component of the phenotype. The dynamics of the distribution of the phenotype are generated by combining distributions of each of its components. Population projection models can be formulated on per generation or on shorter time steps. 3) We introduce the framework before developing example models with parameters chosen to exhibit specific dynamics. These models reveal (i) how evolution of a phenotype can cause populations to move from one dynamical regime to another (e.g. from stationarity to cycles), (ii) how additive genetic variances and covariances (the G matrix) are expected to evolve over multiple generations, (iii) how changing heritability with age can maintain additive genetic variation in the face of selection and (iii) life history, population dynamics, phenotypic characters and parameters in ecological models will change as adaptation occurs. 4) Our approach unifies population ecology and evolutionary biology providing a framework allowing a very wide range of questions to be addressed. The next step is to apply the approach to a variety of laboratory and field systems. Once this is done we will have a much deeper understanding of eco-evolutionary dynamics and feedbacks.
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    • "Due to these characteristics, they are often among the first species to be removed by fishing and are unlikely to be replenished quickly (Jennings et al. 1998; Coll et al. 2004). In terrestrial habitats, trophy hunting has had undesirable evolutionary consequences by decreasing the average size and lifespan of animals (Coltman et al. 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: Isolation can provide marine ecosystems with a refuge from human impacts. However, information on the biodiversity, ecology and fisheries of remote regions is often sparse. The proposed Coral Sea Marine Reserve could create one of the world's largest and most remote marine parks, yet little information is available to inform discussions. Fish captures from the Coral Sea and adjacent Great Barrier Reef (GBR) were assessed from reports contained in a chronology of spearfishing publications from 1953 to 2009, and reveal for the first time the history of recreational spearfishing in the Coral Sea. Although the area is perceived as relatively untouched, the data indicate that spearfishers have frequented Coral Sea reefs for at least 43 years and reported captures have increased exponentially. Post-1993 trophy captures in the Coral Sea (mean 23 kg) were larger than the adjacent GBR (9 kg). Reef species characterize the GBR catch, while large pelagic species characterize the Coral Sea catch. Provided that functionally important fishes are not targeted, the relatively small scale of recreational spearfishing and the focus on pelagic species suggests that spearfishing currently exerts limited pressure on the ecology of Coral Sea reefs.
    Environmental Conservation 09/2015; DOI:10.1017/S0376892915000272 · 2.37 Impact Factor
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    • "Both populations are the subjects of long-term studies where individuals are followed throughout their lives, and each population has an associated pedigree where relationships among individuals are determined through field observations as well as genetic analyses (Poissant et al. 2010). Ram Mountain is a native population in which individual-based monitoring began in 1972 with genetic sampling starting in 1988 (Jorgenson et al. 1993, 1997; Coltman et al. 2003). Between 1972 and 1989, census size increased from ~100 sheep to ~220. "
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    ABSTRACT: Linkage disequilibrium (LD) is the nonrandom association of alleles at two markers. Patterns of LD have biological implications as well as practical ones when designing association studies or conservation programs aimed at identifying the genetic basis of fitness differences within and among populations. However, the temporal dynamics of LD in wild populations has received little empirical attention. In this study, we examined the overall extent of LD, the effect of sample size on the accuracy and precision of LD estimates, and the temporal dynamics of LD in two populations of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) with different demographic histories. Using over 200 microsatellite loci, we assessed two metrics of multi-allelic LD, D′, and χ′2. We found that both populations exhibited high levels of LD, although the extent was much shorter in a native population than one that was founded via translocation, experienced a prolonged bottleneck post founding, followed by recent admixture. In addition, we observed significant variation in LD in relation to the sample size used, with small sample sizes leading to depressed estimates of the extent of LD but inflated estimates of background levels of LD. In contrast, there was not much variation in LD among yearly cross-sections within either population once sample size was accounted for. Lack of pronounced interannual variability suggests that researchers may not have to worry about interannual variation when estimating LD in a population and can instead focus on obtaining the largest sample size possible.
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