Evol Ecol Res 3: 595-602 (2001)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Fitness trade-offs select for semelparous reproduction in an extreme environment

Felisa A. Smith and Eric L. Charnov

Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: fasmith@unm.edu


Semelparity (suicidal or one-time reproduction) is generally thought to evolve when selection favours individuals that allocate so much energy towards reproduction that death is inevitable. Among mammals, only males of a few marsupial species are known to exhibit this unusual life-history strategy. Here we report evidence that suggests adaptations to an increasingly harsh environment during the early Holocene favoured a switch from iteroparity (repeated reproduction) to semelparity for a small rodent, Neotoma lepida. Our analysis, based on spatial, temporal and physiological relationships between body size and temperature and on calculations using life tables and body size production allometries, highlights a unique way that mammals may adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Keywords: Bergmann’s rule, Death Valley, iteroparity, life-history trade-offs, Neotoma, temperature, woodrat.

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        © 2001 Felisa A. Smith. All EER articles are copyrighted by their authors. All authors endorse, permit and license Evolutionary Ecology Ltd. to grant its subscribing institutions/libraries the copying privileges specified below without additional consideration or payment to them or to Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. These endorsements, in writing, are on file in the office of Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. Consult authors for permission to use any portion of their work in derivative works, compilations or to distribute their work in any commercial manner.

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