Intensive and size-selective harvesting is an evolutionary driver of life history as well as individual behavioral traits. Yet whether and to what degree harvesting modifies the collective behavior of exploited species are largely unknown. We present a multigeneration harvest selection experiment with zebrafish, Danio rerio, as a model species to understand the effects of size-selective harvesting on shoaling behavior. The experimental system is based on a largeharvested (typical of most wild-capture fisheries targeting larger size classes) and small-harvested (typical of specialized fisheries and gape-limited predators targeting smaller size classes) selection lines. By combining high-resolution tracking of fish behavior with computational agent-based modeling, we show that shoal cohesion changed in the direction expected by a trade-off between individual vigilance and the use of social cues. In particular, we document a decrease of individual vigilance in the small-harvested line, which was linked to an increase in the attention to social cues, favoring more cohesive shoals. Opposing outcomes were found for the large-harvested line, which formed less cohesive shoals. Using the agent-based model, we outline possible consequences of changes in shoaling behavior for both fishing and natural mortality. The changes in shoaling induced by large size-selective harvesting may decrease fishing mortality but increase mortality by natural predators. Our work suggests an insofar overlooked evolutionary mechanism by which size-selective harvesting can affect fishing and natural mortality of exploited fish.
Evolutionary impact of size-selective harvesting on shoaling behavior: Individual-level mechanisms and possible consequences for natural and fishing mortality
Sbragaglia, V., Klamser, P. P., Romanczuk, P., Arlinghaus, R. 2022. Evolutionary impact of size-selective harvesting on shoaling behavior: Individual-level mechanisms and possible consequences for natural and fishing mortality. The American Naturalist, 199. 480-495.
Appeared in : The American Naturalist, 199, 480-495