Discover Magazine has identified the work of Raincoast research scientists Dr. Chris Darimont and Dr. Paul Paquet in their Top Science Stories of 2009. The team’s work on the impacts of harvesting on the evolution of fish, mammals and plants made the number 30 position in the top 100 stories. The research examined the impacts of our quest (as hunters) to bag the biggest and best specimens. In doing so, we drive selective pressures toward less desirable features, such as smaller bodies or less majestic antlers. Animals that are routinely subject to pursuit by humans are, on average, 20% smaller and reproduce at a 25% younger age than would normally be present. Smaller and earlier breeders often produce fewer offspring. When fewer and smaller animals are present, the prey species may have to look elsewhere, hence important shifts in food web dynamics can occur.
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