• Open Access

Genetic correlations between adults and larvae in a marine fish: potential effects of fishery selection on population replenishment


Darren W. Johnson, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, 735 State St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA. Tel.: +805-892-2519; fax: +805-892-2510; e-mail: johnson@nceas.ucsb.edu


Correlated genetic responses have been hypothesized as important components of fishery-induced evolution, although predictive data from wild populations have been difficult to obtain. Here, we demonstrate substantial genetic correlations between a trait often subjected to fishery selection (adult body length) and traits that affect survival of larvae (length and swimming performance) in a wild population of a marine fish (bicolor damselfish, Stegastes partitus). Through both genetic covariance and size-dependent maternal effects, selection on adult size may cause a considerable, correlated response in larval traits. To quantify how variation in larval traits may affect survival, we introduce a flexible method that uses information from selection measurements to account for frequency dependence and estimate the relationship between phenotype and relative survival across a broad range of phenotypic values. Using this method, we synthesize studies of selective mortality on larval size for eight species of fish and show that variation in larval size may result in considerable variation in larval survival. We predict that observed rates of fishery selection on adult marine fishes may substantially reduce larval size and survival. The evolution of smaller larvae in response to fishery selection may therefore have substantial consequences for the viability of fished populations.