This article was published in the journal Ecology and Evolution.
This work is the result of a collaboration between the OFB, IFREMER and the Tour du Valat. They show that there is no tangible evidence to suggest that hunters harvest individuals according to their morphological characteristics, even unintentionally.
You can access to it on the Tour du Valat web documentary portal.
Selective hunting has various impacts that need to be considered for the conservation and management of harvested populations. The consequences of selective harvest have mostly been studied in trophy hunting and fishing, where selection of specific phenotypes is intentional. Recent studies, however, show that selection can also occur unintentionally. With at least 52 million birds harvested each year in Europe, it is particularly relevant to evaluate the selectivity of hunting on this taxon. Here, we considered 211,806 individuals belonging to 7 hunted bird species to study unintentional selectivity in harvest. Using linear mixed models, we compared morphological traits (mass, wing, and tarsus size) and body condition at the time of banding between birds that were subsequently recovered from hunting during the same year as their banding, and birds that were not recovered. We did not find any patterns showing systematic differences between recovery categories, among our model species, for the traits we studied. Moreover, when a difference existed between recovery categories, it was so small that its biological relevance can be challenged. Hunting of birds in Europe therefore does not show any form of strong selectivity on the morphological and physiological traits that we studied and should hence not lead to any change of these traits either by plastic or by evolutionary response.
E. Grzegorczyk, L. Bézier, K. Le-Rest, A. Caizergues, C. Francesiaz, J. Champagnon, M. Guillemain, C. Eraud – Is hunting nonintentionally selective? A test using game bird capture-dead recoverie. 2022. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety. Vol 12 (9) https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.9285