Natural selection is being run, more or less, by the gentleman hunter we have up top there with the classy antique deer rifle. He does not believe in evolution, yet he and his ilk are currently sort of in charge of it because they are the ones culling the herds of bighorn sheep, clearing the hills of ginseng and emptying the rivers of salmon. The findings of this horrific new study — “Human predators outpace other agents of trait change in the wild” — more or less clarify that traditional conservation efforts and hunting/fishing regulations encourage the killing of the largest, healthiest adults, leaving the weakest members of the community to breed. This, of course, fucks things up on an evolutionary scale. From the New York Times:
The new findings are more sweeping. Based on an analysis of earlier studies of 29 species — mostly fish, but also a few animals and plants like bighorn sheep and ginseng — researchers from several Canadian and American universities found that rates of evolutionary change were three times higher in species subject to “harvest selection” than in other species. Writing in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers say the data they analyzed suggested that size at reproductive maturity in the species under pressure had shrunk in 30 years or so by 20 percent, and that organisms were reaching reproductive age about 25 percent sooner.