Reconstructing the effects of fishing on life-history evolution in North Sea plaice Pleuronectes platessa

F.M. Mollet*, U. Dieckmann, A.D. Rijnsdorp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Growing evidence suggests that fishing may induce rapid contemporary evolution in certain life-history traits. This study analyzes fisheries-induced changes in life-history traits describing growth, maturation, and reproduction, using an individual-based eco-genetic model that captures both the population dynamics and changes in genetic trait values. The model was successfully calibrated to match the observed life-history traits of female North Sea plaice Pleuronectes platessa around the years 1900 and 2000. On this basis, we report the following findings. First, the model indicates changes in 3 evolving life-history traits: the intercept of the maturation reaction norm decreases by 27%, the weight-specific reproductive-investment rate increases by 10%, and the weight-specific energy-acquisition rate increases by 1%. Together, these changes
reduce the weight at maturation by 46% and the asymptotic body weight by 28% relative to the intensification of fishing around 1900. Second, while the maturation reaction norm and reproductive- investment rate change monotonically over time, the energy-acquisition rate follows a more complex course: after an initial increase during the first 50 yr, it remains constant for about 30 yr and then starts to decline. Third, our analysis indicates that North Sea plaice has not yet attained a new evolutionary equilibrium: it must be expected to evolve further towards earlier maturation, increased reproductive investment, and lower adult body size. Fourth, when fishing continues in our model 100 yr into the future, the pace of evolution slows down for the maturation reaction norm and the rate of en ergy acquisition, whereas no such slowing down is expected for the rate of
reproductive investment
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-208
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • fisheries-induced evolution
  • eco-genetic model
  • reproductive investment
  • maturation reaction norms


Dive into the research topics of 'Reconstructing the effects of fishing on life-history evolution in North Sea plaice Pleuronectes platessa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this