When trade-offs involving predation and mortality are perturbed by human activities, behaviour and life histories are expected to change, with consequences for natural mortality rates. We present a general life history model for fish in which three common relationships link natural mortality to life history traits and behaviour. First, survival increases with body size. Second, survival declines with growth rate due to risks involved with resource acquisition and allocation. Third, fish that invest heavily in reproduction suffer from decreased survival due to costly reproductive behaviour or morphology that makes escapes from predators less successful. The model predicts increased natural mortality rate as an adaptive response to harvesting. This extends previous models that have shown that harvesting may cause smaller body size, higher growth rates, and higher investment in reproduction. The predicted increase in natural mortality is roughly half the fishing mortality over a wide range of harvest levels and parameter combinations such that fishing two fish kills three after evolutionary adaptations have taken place.
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