Impact of Environmental Covariation in Growth and Mortality on Evolving Maturation Reaction Norms

Lise Marty, Ulf Dieckmann, Marie-Joëlle Rochet, Bruno Ernande
2011 American Naturalist  
Maturation age and size have important fitness consequences through their effects on survival probabilities and body sizes. The evolution of maturation reaction norms in response to environmental covariation in growth and mortality is therefore a key subject of life-history theory. The ecoevolutionary model we present and analyze here incorporates critical features that earlier studies of evolving maturation reaction norms have often neglected: the trade-off between growth and reproduction,
more » ... d reproduction, source-sink population structure, and population regulation through density-dependent growth and fecundity. We report the following findings. First, the evolutionarily optimal age at maturation can be decomposed into the sum of a density-dependent and a density-independent component. These components measure, respectively, the hypothetical negative age at which an individual's length would be 0 and the delay in maturation relative to this offset. Second, along any growth trajectory, individuals mature earlier when mortality is higher. This allows us to deduce, third, how the shapes of evolutionarily optimal maturation reaction norms depend on the covariation between growth and mortality (positive or negative, linear or curvilinear, and deterministic or probabilistic). Providing eco-evolutionary explanations for many alternative reaction-norm shapes, our results appear to be in good agreement with current empirical knowledge on maturation dynamics.
doi:10.1086/658988 pmid:21460562 fatcat:iijg2kglozc3dl2jind6mndq74