Fishing in hot waters threatens phenotypic diversity.
J Anim Ecol. 2019 Nov;88(11):1642-1644
Authors: Aubry LM
In Focus: Morrongiello, J. R., Sweetman, P. C., & Thresher, R. E. (2019). Fishing constrains phenotypic responses of marine fish to climate variability. Journal of Animal Ecology, 88, 1645-1656. Forces of unnatural selection, such as climate change and harvest, are rarely studied in concert, yet hold the great potential to act synergistically on individual performance, susceptibility to harvest, tolerance to warming temperatures, and ultimately population persistence and resilience. In this paper, Morrongiello et al. (2019) used long-term monitoring of a site-attached temperate reef fish, the purple wrasse (Notolabrus fucicola), to test novel predictions about how fisheries management and climate variability could alter individual growth rates and thermal reaction norms within and across stocks. Otolith growth increments were collected from three south-east Australian populations between 1980 and 1999, pre- and post-harvest, throughout an intensive warming spell. Using hierarchical models to partition variation in growth within and between individuals and populations, Morrongiello et al. detected increased average growth rate with warming, a release from density dependence post-harvest, and a fishing-by-warming interaction that decreased diversity in thermal growth reaction norms because large individuals that tend to better tolerate warm temperatures were effectively culled from the population. This study outlines the importance of determining which phenotypes are more resilient to increasing temperatures, how fisheries should manage for them, and how such collective knowledge could help preserve and even promote resilience of managed populations to increasing temperatures in ecosystems threatened by climate change.