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A trade-off invariant life-history rule for optimal offspring size

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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/1667

A trade-off invariant life-history rule for optimal offspring size

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Title: A trade-off invariant life-history rule for optimal offspring size
Author: Charnov, Eric; Downhower, Jerry
Subject(s): trade-off invariant rules
life history
optimization models
Abstract: Optimization models have been widely and successfully used in evolutionary ecology to predict the attributes of organisms. Most such models maximize darwinian fitness (or a component of fitness) in the face of trade-offs and constraints; the numerical results usually depend on the exact form of the trade-offs/constraints. Here we report the first (to our knowledge) numerical optimum for life-history evolution which is independent of the details of the underlying trade-off, for a large array of trade-off forms. The rule is that at small litter sizes, the range in offspring size is inversely proportional to the size of the litter. Details of the offspring-survival/offspring-size trade-off set the value of the proportionality constant, but the -1 exponent, the inverse proportionality itself, is universal. Studies of life histories have yielded many empirical examples of universality for various scaling exponents (for example, adult lifespan scales as = 0.25 with adult body mass within many taxa); this is an example of the numerical value of an exponent (here -1) emerging from a life-history model as independent of all but a few general features of the underlying economic structure.
Date: 1995-08-03
Publisher: Nature
Citation: Charnov, E.L. and J.F. Downhower 1995. A trade-off-invariant life-history rule for optimal offspring size. Nature 376:418-419
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/1667

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