You are on page 1of 19


Histories Ch 8

Learning Objec5ves
A"er studying this sec+on, you should be able to: 1. Dene what life history means. 2. Describe 4 dierent life history traits. 3. Explain how life histories are constrained by trade- os. 4. Understand how anthropogenic harves5ng can generate evolu5onary changes in life-history aJributes of wild popula5ons.

Life History
The adapta5ons of an organism that inuence aspects of its biology such as the number of ospring it produces. Inuenced by natural selec5on/gene5cs. Expressed through behaviour, physiology, anatomy.
Life history characteris5cs inuence the tness of an individual.

Varia5on in Life History Characteris5cs

Age at maturity Minutes (many bacteria). Months (e.g., small mammals). Decades (e.g., many sharks, whales).
Meadow vole (Microtus pensylvanicus)

Porbeagle (Lamna nasus)

Meadow voles mature in less than 2 months, porbeagles at 7-13 years.

p. 213

Varia5on in Life History Characteris5cs

Number of reproduc+ve events: Once in life5me to repeatedly over centuries.
Annual plants, such as jewelweed, reproduce and die within a few months. SEMELPAROUS Many trees, such as red pine, live for centuries and reproduce during most of the years. ITEROPAROUS
Jewelweed (Impa6ens capensis)

Red pine (Pinus resinosa)

Varia5on in Life History Characteris5cs

Size and number of ospring: There is a nega5ve correla5on between size and number of ospring.
Pacic halibut produce millions of eggs every year. Humpback whales bear a single calf every 2-3 years.
Pacic halibut (Hippoglossus stenolep6s)

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeanglie)

Varia5on in Life History Characteris5cs

Parental care Strong investment in parental care: e.g., female grey seals (Halichoerus grypus)
Halichoerus grypus

Ospring le] en5rely at the mercy of environmental condi5ons: e.g., Atlan5c cod (Cadus morhua)

Reproduc5ve Eort
Propor5on of total energy devoted to reproduc5on.
Physiology; e.g., energy demands, gonad development. Behaviour; e.g., changes in feeding rate or preference.

High reproduc5ve eort (bulging eggs) by brook trout (Salvelinus fon6nalis).

Bet-Hedging Strategies
Environments vary spa5ally and temporally. Unfavourable years disadvantage species with all eggs in one basket. Unpredictable environments favour species which spread the risk (= bet-hedging).

Pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica)

Late frosts may be detrimental to the reproduc5on of early- owering species.

Example: Atlan5c Cod

Large cod females have more extended periods of spawning and hence are more likely to spawn during a favourable period.
Fig. 8.11 p. 216

Costs of Reproduc5on
Trade-o An increase in one life- history trait will result in a decrease in another one. An organism cannot maximize all the traits associated with tness.
Darwinian demon

Guppy (Poecile re6culata)

The bright colours of a male guppy increase its success with females, but also increase its risk of being preyed upon.

Preda5on Selects for Early Maturity

When guppies have a high risk of preda5on, they reproduce early. Experimentally reduced preda5on risk. Watched for 30-60 genera5ons:
Higher age of reproduc5on. Lower reproduc5ve alloca5on.

(Reznick et al. 1990)

Life History Classica5on

MacArthur and Wilson (1967)
r selec5on (per capita rate of increase)
Characteris5c high popula5on growth rate. Resources allocated to reproduc5on

K selec5on (carrying capacity)

Resources allocated to compe55on, body maintenance.

r and K are ends of a con5nuum

Trait Fecundity Life expectancy Age at maturity

Fast high short young

Slow low long old

Gaillard et al. (1989)

Harvest-Induced Evolu5on
Intensive shing is likely to result in gene5c changes: earlier age of maturity and smaller size. Selec5ve hun5ng of males with large horns for trophies has lead to a gene5c decline in body size and horn length in bighorn sheep in Alberta.
CBC Radios Quirks and Quarks

Human-induced Evolu5on
Mountain Sheep (Coltman, University of Alberta)
Large, hun5ng database 1971-2002 Trophy hun5ng Larger body size confers greater reproduc5ve success

Males with smaller horns live longer