Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Albrecht Daniel Thaer-Institut für Agrar- und Gartenbauwissenschaften

Consistent size-independent harvest selection on fish body shape in two recreationally exploited marine species

Harvesting wild animals may exert size-independent selection pressures on a range of morphological, life history, and behavioral traits. Most work so far has focused on selection pressures on life history traits and body size as morphological trait. We studied here how recreational fishing selects for morphological traits related to body shape, which may correlate with underlying swimming behavior. Using landmark-based geometric morphometrics, we found consistent recreational fishing-induced selection pressures on body shape in two recreationally exploited marine fish species. We show that individuals with largersized mouths and more streamlined and elongated bodies were more vulnerable to passively operated hook-and-line fishing independent of the individual’s body size or condition. While the greater vulnerability of individuals with larger mouth gapes can be explained by the direct physical interaction with hooks, selection against streamlined and elongated individuals could either involve a specific foraging mode or relate to underlying elevated swimming behavior. Harvesting using passive gear is common around the globe, and thus, size-independent selection on body shape is expected to be widespread potentially leaving behind individuals with smaller oral gapes and more compact bodies. This might have repercussions for food webs by altering foraging and predation. IGB Arlinghaus Fisheries Management Fischereimanagement fisheries induced evolution size selection