Unlocking ecological history using fish remains: Eco-evolutionary consequences of exploitation in the Atlantic bluefin tuna

Andrews, Adam Jon (2023) Unlocking ecological history using fish remains: Eco-evolutionary consequences of exploitation in the Atlantic bluefin tuna, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Beni culturali e ambientali, 35 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/10599.
Documenti full-text disponibili:
[img] Documento PDF (English) - Richiede un lettore di PDF come Xpdf o Adobe Acrobat Reader
Disponibile con Licenza: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) .
Download (76MB)


During recent decades, the health of ocean ecosystems and fish populations has been threatened by overexploitation, pollution, and anthropogenic-driven climate change. Due to a lack of long-term data, we have a poor understanding of when intensive exploitation began and what impact anthropogenic activities have had on the ecology and evolution of fishes. Such information is crucial to recover degraded and depleted marine ecosystems and fish populations, maximise their productivity in-line with historical levels, and predict their future dynamics. In this thesis, I evaluate anthropogenic impacts on the iconic Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus; BFT), one of the longest and recently most intensely exploited marine fishes, with a tremendous cultural and economic importance. Using a long-time series of archaeological and archived faunal remains (bones) dating back to approximately two millennia ago, I apply morphological, isotopic, and genomic techniques to perform the first studies on long-term BFT size and growth, diet and habitat use, and demography and adaptation, and produce the first genome-wide data on this species. My findings suggest that exploitation had impacted BFT foraging behaviour by the ~16th century when coastal ecosystem degradation induced a pelagic shift in diet and habitat use. I reveal that BFT biomass began to decline much earlier than hitherto documented, by the 19th century, consistent with intensive tuna trap catches during this period and catch-at-size increasing. I find that BFT juvenile growth had increased by the early 1900s (and more dramatically by the 21st century) which may reflect an evolutionary response to size selective harvest–which I find putative genomic signatures of. Further, I observed that BFT foraging behaviours have been modified following overexploitation during the 20th century, which previously included a isotopically distinct, Black Sea niche. Finally, I show that despite biomass declining from centuries ago, BFT has retained genomic diversity.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Andrews, Adam Jon
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
exploitation impacts; adaptation; fisheries-induced evolution; historical baselines; long-term population dynamics; fish remains
Data di discussione
20 Giugno 2023

Altri metadati

Statistica sui download

Gestione del documento: Visualizza la tesi