The potential of harvesting to induce adaptive changes in exploited populations is now increasingly recognized. While early studies predicted that elevated mortalities among larger individuals select for reduced maturation size, recent theoretical studies have shown conditions under which other, more complex evolutionary responses to size-selective mortality are expected. These new predictions are based on the assumption that, owing to the trade-off between growth and reproduction, early maturation implies reduced growth. Here we extend these findings by analyzing a model of a harvested size-structured population in continuous time, and by systematically exploring maturation evolution under all three traditionally acknowledged costs of early maturation: reduced fecundity, reduced growth, and/or increased natural mortality. We further extend this analysis to the two main types of harvest selectivity, with an individual's chance of getting harvested depending on its size and/or maturity stage. Surprisingly, we find that harvesting mature individuals not only favors late maturation when the costs of early maturation are low, but promotes early maturation when the costs of early maturation are high. To our knowledge, this study therefore is the first to show that harvesting mature individuals can induce early maturation.
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