Selective harvesting of large mammals: how often does it result in directional selection?

Published online
03 Aug 2011
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Mysterud, A.
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Harvesting of large mammals is usually not random, and directional selection has been identified as the main cause of rapid evolution. However, selective harvesting in meat and recreational hunting cultures does not automatically imply directional selection for trait size. Harvesting selectivity is more than a matter of hunter preference. Selection is influenced by management regulations, hunting methods, animal trait variance, behaviour and abundance. Most studies of hunter selection only report age- or sex-specific selection, or differences in trait size selection among hunting methods or groups of hunters, rather than trait size relative to the age-specific means required for directional selection. Synthesis and applications. Managers aiming to avoid rapid evolution should not only consider directional selection and trophy hunting but also mitigate other important evolutionary forces such as harvesting intensity per se, and sexual selection processes that are affected by skewed sex ratios and age structures.

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