Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Man's effect on evolution of animals that we hunt and fish

From today's New York Times:

Seeing the Risks of Humanity’s Hand in Species Evolution

Human predation is causing some species to evolve to reproduce at younger ages and smaller sizes, to the long-term harm of the species.

“Humans are frighteningly efficient predators,” said J. Stanley Cobb, a lobster expert who retired recently from the University of Rhode Island. “They impose mortality in specific ways, at particular stages of the life cycle. If we believe that natural selection has shaped the life history characteristics of a species, then we have to believe that a different mortality regime will affect life history.”

Because humans discovered fire, the benefits of hunting in teams and the bounties of agriculture, people have been changing the natural landscape, causing plants and animals to evolve in response.

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