Ecology of harvest‐driven trait changes and implications for ecosystem management
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Ecology of harvest‐driven trait changes and implications for ecosystem management

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  • Journal Title:
    Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
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    Harvest of wild animals and plants is pervasive, exerts ecological and evolutionary pressure on populations, and is known to drive rapid changes in organismal traits. Although the factors that lead to rapid trait changes have received increased attention, the ecological consequences of harvest‐driven trait changes are less appreciated. We review recent evidence that harvest‐driven trait changes can affect community and ecosystem processes. Growing experimental evidence, modeling studies, and field observations have revealed that common responses to harvest include changes in life‐history and behavioral traits, which have the potential to reshape the ecology of harvested systems. On the basis of existing evidence, we propose a set of general mechanisms that link harvest‐driven trait changes to ecological processes, including trophic cascades, nutrient dynamics, keystone interactions, ecosystem stability, and habitat use. Managing harvested ecosystems sustainably may require strategies that account for harvest‐driven trait changes. We recommend that trait changes be monitored closely as part of ecosystem‐based management plans, especially in cases where targeted traits are known to affect important aspects of ecosystem function.
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    Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 16(1), 20-28
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    Accepted Manuscript
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