Theoretical Ecology Group

Institutt for biologi
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Postdoc, PhD
Anders F. Opdal

Tracing life history evolution through models and long-term time series

Human harvest is inherently selective and if sufficiently intense, has a direct and observable effect on the presence of phenotypic traits in a population; including body size, sex, colour, attributes etc. Although rarely quantified, intense harvest is also likely to be selective on genotypes within contemporary timescales - a process known as human induced evolution.

Currently I am working on methods to disentangle demographic from evolutionary effects of harvesting. The Northeast Arctic cod is in many ways an ideal candidate for investigation, as data such as fishing pressure, demography and spawning locations have been collected, either for scientific or commercial purposes, for up to 150 years.

Based on these data and in conjunction with state dependent optimization models, I have, together with several co-authors, presented results suggesting that intense harvest on not only alters age structure in the population, but may also lead to evolutionary change in life history strategies such as age at maturation and spawning migration.

However, the picture is complex, and multiple drivers are at play - many of which are still poorly understood.