How fast is fisheries-induced evolution? Quantitative analysis of modelling and empirical studies



Asta Audzijonyte, CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship, GPO Box 1538, Hobart Tasmania 7001, Australia. Tel.: +61 3 6232 5107; e-mail:


A number of theoretical models, experimental studies and time-series studies of wild fish have explored the presence and magnitude of fisheries-induced evolution (FIE). While most studies agree that FIE is likely to be happening in many fished stocks, there are disagreements about its rates and implications for stock viability. To address these disagreements in a quantitative manner, we conducted a meta-analysis of FIE rates reported in theoretical and empirical studies. We discovered that rates of phenotypic change observed in wild fish are about four times higher than the evolutionary rates reported in modelling studies, but correlation between the rate of change and instantaneous fishing mortality (F) was very similar in the two types of studies. Mixed-model analyses showed that in the modelling studies traits associated with reproductive investment and growth evolved slower than rates related to maturation. In empirical observations age-at-maturation was changing faster than other life-history traits. We also found that, despite different assumption and modelling approaches, rates of evolution for a given F value reported in 10 of 13 modelling studies were not significantly different.