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CR 86:79-91 (2022)  -  DOI:

Population responses to harvesting in fluctuating environments

Aline Magdalena Lee1,*, Javier Jarillo2, Bart Peeters1, Brage Bremset Hansen1, Francisco J. Cao-García3,4, Bernt-Erik Sæther1, Steinar Engen5

1Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics, Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
2Research Unit of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology, Namur Institute of Complex Systems, and Institute of Life, Earth, and Environment, University of Namur, 5000 Namur, Belgium
3Departamento de Estructura de la Materia, Física Térmica y Electrónica, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
4Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados en Nanociencia (IMDEA-Nanociencia), 28049 Madrid, Spain
5Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Achieving sustainable harvesting of natural populations depends on our ability to predict population responses to the combined effects of harvesting and environmental fluctuations while accounting for other internal and external factors that influence population dynamics in time and space. Here, we review recent research showing how spatial patterns and interspecific interactions can influence population responses to harvesting in fluctuating environments. We highlight several pathways through which harvesting can, often inadvertently, influence the dynamics and resilience to environmental fluctuations of both harvested and surrounding non-harvested populations and species. For instance, spatial models have shown that harvesting is expected to influence the spatial synchrony of population fluctuations, both of the harvested species and its competitors, predators and prey, with implications for population extinction risk. Dispersal and interspecific interactions can cause responses to harvesting in areas and species that are not themselves harvested. Harvesting that selectively targets certain groups of individuals, either intentionally or through for example spatially biased harvesting, can amplify environmentally induced population fluctuations by biasing the population structure towards individuals that are more sensitive to environmental variation. On the other hand, harvesting can in some cases buffer populations against the density-dependent effects of harsh climatic conditions, which are probably more common than previously acknowledged. Recent advances in modeling are providing new predictions that are highly relevant under global warming and now need to be tested empirically. We discuss how knowledge of these pathways can be used to increase the sustainability of harvesting.

KEY WORDS: Climate change · Environmental stochasticity · Hunting · Fisheries · Multi-species systems · Population structure

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Cite this article as: Lee AM, Jarillo J, Peeters B, Hansen BB, Cao-García FJ, Sæther BE, Engen S (2022) Population responses to harvesting in fluctuating environments. Clim Res 86:79-91.

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