Royal Society Publishing

Life history correlates of responses to fisheries exploitation

S. Jennings, J.D. Reynolds, S.C. Mills


We use an approach based on phylogenetic comparisons to identify life history correlates of abundance trends in 18 intensively exploited fish stocks from the north–east Atlantic. After accounting for differences in fishing mortality, we show that those fishes that have decreased in abundance compared with their nearest relatives mature later, attain a larger maximum size, and exhibit significantly lower potential rates of population increase. Such trends were not evident in a more traditional cross–species analysis. This is the first phylogenetically independent evidence to link life histories with abundance trends, and provides a quantitative basis for assessing vulnerability of fish populations to exploitation. Our approach can be applied to the conservation and management of other exploited taxa.

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