NWFC Speaker Substitution for Feely is Dr. Jeff Hard "Unnatural selection: human-induced evolution in exploitation of wild animals"

Start Date/Time: Thursday, October 08, 2009, 11:00 AM
Location: Northwest Fisheries Science Center Auditorium at 2725 Montlake Blvd. E., Seattle.

Fall Quarter NWFSC Weekly Monster Seminar (more info at http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/events/monster.cfm)

The Northwest Fisheries Science Center is located right next to the Seattle Yacht club, just south of the Montlake bridge on the west side of Montlake Blvd. East. http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/contact/map.cfm

(Dr. Feely had a family emergency)

Unnatural selection: human-induced evolution in exploitation of wild animals

Dr. Jeff Hard

Northwest Fisheries Science Center NOAA Fisheries

Human harvest of wild animal populations imposes selection that can reduce the frequencies of those phenotypes among breeders. Hunting, fishing, and other forms of human exploitation contrast with agriculture and aquaculture, where the most desirable individuals are selected for breeding to increase the frequency of particular phenotypes. There has been surprisingly little consideration of human-induced selection in the wild until recently. Although Darwin himself recognized the potential for exploitation to cause evolution, he did not apply his evaluation of methodological, unconscious, and natural selection to wild animals and plants. We consider the potential effects of human exploitation on the genetics and sustainability of wild populations. We consider how harvesting can affect the mating system and thereby modify sexual selection in a way that might affect viability. Determining whether phenotypic changes in harvested populations are due to evolution, rather than phenotypic plasticity or environmental variation, has been challenging. However, it is likely that some undesirable changes observed in exploited populations over time are due to selection against particular phenotypes that arise from natural or sexual selection-a process we call "unnatural" selection. Evolution induced by human harvest can increase the risk of population collapse, and might greatly increase the time it will take over-harvested populations to recover once harvest is curtailed because harvesting often creates strong selection differentials, whereas curtailing harvest will generally result in less intense selection in the opposing direction.

Jeff Hard is Program Manager for the Conservation Biology Division's Population Biology Program. The Program encompasses three teams: Diversity, Salmon Harvest, and Salmon Recovery, whose members conduct much of the technical work to support NMFS conservation and recovery planning of anadromous and marine species in the Pacific Northwest under the Endangered Species Act. Jeff is an adviser for the National Research Council's Research Associateship Program, and a mentor for the NMFS-Sea Grant Joint Graduate Fellowship Program in Population Dynamics and Marine Resource Economics. He is a past president of the American Fisheries Society's Genetics Section and served as an associate editor for the Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. Jeff holds a courtesy appointment as affiliate professor in the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska and as affiliate associate professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington. He received a B.S. in Biology from Oregon State University, an M.S. in Fisheries Science from the University of Alaska, and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Oregon.

As a biologist that uses evolutionary genetics to address current and emerging problems in natural resource management and conservation biology, Jeff's research into life-history evolution focuses on four primary topics: 1) characterizing the relationship between genetic and phenotypic variation within and among populations in life history; 2) determining the evolutionary consequences of inbreeding within and interbreeding among distinct populations; 3) exploring how life histories respond to selection such as size-selective exploitation, hatchery domestication and climate change; and 4) detecting the genetic architecture of fitness traits. His current research projects include studies in Washington and Alaska to determine the effects of inbreeding and outbreeding in Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead, to characterize domestication selection in hatchery coho salmon, to evaluate the consequences of fisheries- and climate-induced evolution in Pacific salmon, and to quantify the genetic and environmental factors that influence anadromy, life-history plasticity, and viability in steelhead.