Jeffrey A. Hutchings

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Jeffrey A. Hutchings
Jeffrey Hutchings.jpg
Born (1958-09-11) September 11, 1958 (age 59)
Orillia, Ontario
Nationality Canadian
Occupation Fisheries Scientist
Organization Dalhousie University

Jeffrey A. Hutchings (born 11 September 1958) is a Canadian-born fisheries scientist, Professor of Biology, and Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Chair in Fish, Fisheries, and Oceans at Dalhousie University. He is well known for his work on the evolution of fish life histories and on the collapse, recovery, and sustainable harvesting of marine fishes. In addition to being Chair of a 2012 Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel on Marine Biodiversity (and member of a 2001 Expert Panel on genetically modified foods), he chaired Canada's national science body (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) responsible, by law, for advising the Canadian federal Minister of the Environment on species at risk of extinction. Past-President and Co-Founder of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (Academy of Science) in 2015. In 2017, he was awarded the international A.G. Huntsman Award for Excellence in the Marine Sciences (

Early Life and Education[edit]

Jeffrey A. Hutchings was born on September 11, 1958, in Orillia, Ontario to Wendy Simpson (born Toronto, Ontario) and Alexander Hutchings (born Sunnyside, Newfoundland). His mother studied physiotherapy and his father was a business high school teacher at Orillia District Collegiate and Vocational Institute.

Hutchings attended Hillcrest Public School until grade 8 and then the Orillia District Collegiate & Vocational Institute for grades 9-13. He was very music oriented, successfully auditioning three years in a row for the Ontario Youth Orchestra, where he played the trumpet. The group would get together annually for a week in London, ON, perform concerts, and even produce record albums. He thoroughly enjoyed music and came close to enrolling in a Bachelor of Music programme. He decided instead to pursue a science degree in biology, his interest in this subject having been kindled by ten summers spent at the family cottage near Gravenhurst, a love of the outdoors, and a realization that biology provided opportunities to be engaged in field work.

In 1980 he graduated from the University of Toronto (U of T) with a Bachelor of Science in Zoology. During his first three years at U of T, his marks were somewhat mediocre primarily because of a lack of inspiration. The summer after his 3rd year he obtained a job with Harold H. Harvey, who studied the impact of acidification on the abundance and diversity of species in the lakes of the La Cloche Mountains area near Killarney, Ontario.[1] His summer spent canoeing and collecting fish in several acid rain affected lakes sparked an interest in fish biology. In his final year as an undergraduate, he took an Ichthyology class taught by Edwin J. Crossman, someone who was to become somewhat of a mentor to Hutchings. Crossman co-authored Freshwater Fishes of Canada with W.B. Scott and worked as a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in the Department of Ichthyology and Herpetology as well as being a Professor at the U of T. He worked mainly with freshwater fish and was actively involved in the study of biodiversity of the fish found in the Great Lakes.[2] Hutchings got a job with him during his last year at U of T and even worked for him for a year after completing his undergraduate degree on Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) and White sucker (Catostomus commersoni) at Nogies Creek, near Bobcaygeon.

After working at the ROM, tree-planting in northern British Columbia, and filling beer bottles at Molson’s Brewery, Hutchings decided to return to academic studies. From 1982 to 1985, he attended the Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) for a Master of Science in Biology, studying Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) migration, life history, and their use of lakes. Supervised by Richard L. Haedrich, he thoroughly enjoyed his 12 months of field work in Terra Nova National Park. In 1983 he met Ransom A. Myers, a scientist with similar interests with whom he remained close, co-authored 20 papers until Myers’ death in 2007. In 1987, under the supervision of Douglas W. Morris, he began his Doctor of Philosophy at MUN, studying life history variability of the Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), graduating in 1991.

In 1991, he moved to Scotland to complete Postdoctoral research at the University of Edinburgh. He was interested in the work of Dr. Linda Partridge, a British geneticist who studies the biology of ageing and age-related diseases. Partridge uses the Common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) to study questions on the cost of living and life history evolution.[3] Hutchings, who was interested in similar questions, wanted to get a sense of the strengths and weaknesses of her genetical, experimental-manipulation approach as opposed to his field-based studies in evolutionary ecology. His first experiment was unsuccessful, but his second on male costs of reproduction resulted in his lone publication on fruit flies. Importantly, his proximity to Northern Europe allowed him to meet several researchers and teach week-long courses in 1992 in Bergen Norway and Umeå Sweden on the subject of Life History Theory.

He returned to Canada in late 1992 to undertake Post Doctoral research at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in St. John’s Newfoundland. There he worked on Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) for the first time, analyzing several lengthy time series databases on reproduction related characteristics. This was at the time of the collapse of Newfoundland’s northern cod fishery, and Hutchings became interested in the different hypotheses on the cause of the collapse. On his own initiative, he used the databases to test several different hypotheses. His work at the time started a set of research initiatives on ecologically, socially, and economically important fish in which he is still interested today.

Academic Positions[edit]

  • 2016-2021 - Izzak Walton Killam Memorial Chair, Dalhousie University
  • 2017-2019 - Professor II, Institute of Marine Research, Norway
  • 2015-2016 - Professor II, University of Agder, Norway
  • 2012-2017 - Killam Professor, Faculty of Science, Dalhousie University
  • 2010-2017 - Professor II, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, University of Oslo, Norway
  • 2002-2012 - Canada Research Chair in Marine Conservation and Biodiversity, Dalhousie University
  • 2004-presentProfessor, Department of Biology, Dalhousie University
  • 2000-2004 - Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Dalhousie University
  • 1995-1999 - Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Dalhousie University

Awards/Honours (selected)[edit]

  • 2017 - A.G. Huntsman Medal for International Excellence in Marine Sciences
  • 2017 - Inductee, Orillia Hall of Fame, Orillia, Canada
  • 2016 - Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Chair (highest academic honour at Dalhousie University)
  • 2015 - Fellow, Academy of Science, Royal Society of Canada
  • 2015 - Jay Newman Award for Academic Integrity, University of Guelph
  • 2012 – Fellow, Royal Canadian Geographical Society
  • 2011 - Sustainability Science Award (co-winner), Ecological Society of America
  • 1998 - Freedom of Information Award, Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, British Columbia
  • 1996 – J.C. Stevenson Memorial Lecturer, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
  • 1994 - Wilfred Templeman Best Publication Award, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, St. John's, Newfoundland

External Organisations[edit]

Over the years, Hutchings has contributed to several organisations in his field, the publication of other scientists’ research in journals, the protection of Canadian species at risk through COSEWIC, the distribution of research grants through NSERC, and the undertaking of expert panels intended to provide public awareness, scientific advice, and recommendations to decision-makers on matters of science of relevance to Canadian society.

Professional Responsibilities (selected)[edit]

  • 1995-1996 – Chair of Ecology, Ethology & Evolution Section, Canadian Society of Zoologists
  • 1997-2002 – Associate Editor, Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences
  • 1999-2001 – Associate Editor, Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
  • 1999-2007 – Member, Marine Fishes Species Specialist Subcommittee, COSEWIC
  • 2000-2001 – Member, Royal Society of Canada expert panel on Future of Food Biotechnology
  • 2001-2012 – Member of COSEWIC
  • 2002-2007 – Editor, Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences
  • 2003-2006 – Member, Evolution & Ecology Grant Selection Committee, (NSERC)
  • 2005-2006 – Co-Chair, Evolution & Ecology Grant Selection Committee, (NSERC)
  • 2006-2007 – Founding Member and Councillor, Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution
  • 2006-2010 – Chair, Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC)
  • 2008-2009 – Chair (inaugural), Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships selection Committee (NSERC)
  • 2009-2012 – Chair, Royal Society of Canada expert panel on Sustaining Canada’s Marine Biodiversity
  • 2007–present – Member, Editorial Board, Evolutionary Application
  • 2008–present – Member, Editorial Board, Environmental Reviews
  • 2009–2015 – Member, Editorial Board, Proceedings of the Royal Society B
  • 2009–present – Science Advisor, Sustainable Seafood Policies, Loblaw Companies Ltd
  • 2010–2015 – Member, Research Advisory Panel, Science Media Centre of Canada
  • 2012-2013 – President, Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution
  • 2015-present - Associate Editor, FACETS
  • 2017-2019 - Member, Marine Advisory Board, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 2017-2020 – Member, Evolution & Ecology Discovery Grant Evaluation Group, (NSERC)


Scientific Contributions[edit]

Areas of research[edit]

  • Life History Evolution in Fishes
  • Phenotypic Plasticity and Norms of Reaction
  • Recovery and Extinction Probabilities of Species at Risk
  • Demographic and Evolutionary Consequences of Over-Exploitation
  • Farmed-Wild Atlantic Salmon Interactions
  • Mating Systems in Atlantic Salmon and Atlantic Cod
  • Biodiversity of Arctic and Marine Fishes
  • Communication of Science to Society


Hutchings’ research focuses on the life history evolution, behavioural ecology, population dynamics, and conservation biology of marine and anadromous fishes.[5] In particular, his research focuses on 3 species: Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), and Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). He has explored various questions on the interactions between wild and farmed Atlantic salmon, the biodiversity of Arctic and sub-Arctic fishes (Baffin and Ellesmere Islands), and population consequences of fisheries-induced evolution. Hutchings’ best known scientific contributions pertain to his work on the collapse, recovery, and sustainable harvesting of marine fishes. He was one of the first researchers to examine the correlates of recovery of depleted marine fish populations, work that has now extended to studying factors that affect the recovery of depleted species in general.

Over the years his research interests, although varied and broad, have remained generally the same. As of 2012, Hutchings is still following up on several of his research areas of interest, including life-history evolution, alternative reproductive strategies, salmon aquaculture, communication of science to society, phenotypic plasticity, and the fitness consequences of organismal responses to environmental change.


Hutchings believes that an integral part of being a research scientist is giving back to society and communicating with society as effectively as possible. He does this through his teaching, but also by delivering plenary and keynote lectures, appearing before parliamentary committees, publishing his research findings, and also by interacting with the media. As one example, on the 10th of July, 2012, Hutchings was a speaker at a rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for The Death of Evidence. The rally was in protest of the closure of federal scientific programmes, scientifically unsupported changes to national legislation, and the “muzzling” of government scientists.[6] (The idea behind the rally was that democracy depends on informed opinions, which rely on evidence provided by scientific research.)



Hutchings co-authored a book entitled Ecology: A Canadian Context which was published in 2011 (second edition 2015). The book, which covers the core concepts of ecology, is the first resource that integrates evolution and sustainable development. In addition, it profiles the extensive ecological research being conducted in Canada to provide a more relevant text for Canadian students and instructors.

Freedman, B., Hutchings, J.A., Gwynne, D.T., Smol, J.P., Suffling, R., Turkington, R., Walker, R.L., and D. Bazely. 2015. Ecology: A Canadian Context. Nelson Education, Toronto.

Journal Publications (Selected publications)[edit]

  • Hutchings, J.A. 2000. Collapse and recovery of marine fishes. Nature 406: 882-885.
  • Crozier, L.G., and J.A. Hutchings. 2014. Plastic and evolutionary responses to climate change in fish. Evolutionary Applications 7: 68-87.
  • Neubauer, P., Jensen, O.P., Hutchings, J.A., and J.K. Baum. 2013. Resilience and recovery of overexploited marine populations. Science 340: 347-349.
  • Myers, R.A., Barrowman, N.J., Hutchings, J.A., and A.A. Rosenberg. 1995. Population dynamics of exploited fish stocks at low population levels. Science 269: 1106-1108.
  • Hutchings, J.A., and N.C. Stenseth. 2016. Communication of science advice to government. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 31: 7-11.
  • Hutchings, J.A. 2015. Thresholds for impaired species recovery. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 282: 20150654.
  • Kuparinen, A., and J.A. Hutchings. 2017. Genetic architecture of age at maturity can generate divergent and disruptive harvest-induced evolution. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 372: 20160035.
  • Hutchings, J.A., Myers, R.A., García, V.B., Lucifora, L.O., and A. Kuparinen. 2012. Life-history correlates of extinction risk and recovery potential. Ecological Applications 22: 1061-1067.
  • Hutchings, J.A. 2011. Old wine in new bottles: reaction norms in salmonid fishes. Heredity 106: 421-437.
  • Hutchings, J.A., and D.J. Fraser. 2008. The nature of fishing- and farming-induced evolution. Molecular Ecology 17: 294-313.
  • Hutchings, J.A. 2005. Life history consequences of overexploitation to population recovery in Northwest Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 62: 824-832.
  • Hutchings, J.A., and J.D. Reynolds. 2004. Marine fish population collapses: consequences for recovery and extinction risk. BioScience 54: 297-309.
  • Hutchings, J.A., Walters, C., and R.L. Haedrich. 1997. Is scientific inquiry incompatible with government information control? Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 54: 1198-1210.
  • Hutchings, J.A., and R.A. Myers. 1994. What can be learned from the collapse of a renewable resource? Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua, of Newfoundland and Labrador. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 51: 2126-2146.
  • Hutchings, J.A., and R.A. Myers. 1994. The evolution of alternative mating strategies in variable environments. Evolutionary Ecology 8: 256-268.
  • Hutchings, J.A. 1993. Adaptive life histories effected by age-specific survival and growth rate. Ecology 74: 673-684.
  • Hutchings, J.A. 1991. Fitness consequences of variation in egg size and food abundance in brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis. Evolution 45: 1162-1168.


External links[edit]