Evolutionary Fisheries Ecology (EVOFISH)

February 20, 2013

Today, fishing is the dominant source of mortality in most commercial fish stocks. Fishermen are selective, usually targeting the large and pricy individuals.

By doing so, fisheries prevent the finest fish from passing on their genes, driving unintended evolution in fish stocks. This is exactly the opposite of what animal breeders have done for centuries, selecting the finest individuals to breed in order to improve the quality of their stock.

Understanding fisheries-induced evolution is an important task. Practically, because evolution can be working against our interests by reducing sustainable catches and diminishing size of fish. And academically, because fisheries can be interpreted as an evolutionary experiment of the grandest scale.

Research group “EvoFish” is set to better understand evolutionary dimensions of modern fisheries. We have a three-pronged strategy to tackle this challenge. Analysing data from wild fish stocks helps us to find out how large and widespread evolutionary changes may already have occurred. Experimental systems based on guppies and water fleas help us to test hypotheses and analyse parameters that are unreachable in the wild. And finally, we use modelling for hindcasting and forecasting, testing alternative hypothesis and future scenarios.

The four year funding period with support from the foundation ended in 2011, and Mikko Heino was then offered and accepted a position as professor at the Department of Biology at the University of Bergen.

Name: Mikko Heino
Age: 39 years
PhD: Ph.d., Helsingfors university Finland, 1998
Citizenship: Finish
Department: Institutt for biologi, Det matematisk-naturvitenskapelige fakultet.
Grant from BFS: 8.000.000 NOK
additional funding: 8.000.000 NOK
Start/end of project: 2007-2011
Web: Link to project

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