Adaptive seasonal shift towards investment in fewer, larger offspring: Evidence from field and laboratory studies

The Journal of Animal Ecology
Joshua M HallDaniel A Warner


Seasonal changes in reproduction have been described for many taxa. As reproductive seasons progress, females often shift from greater energetic investment in many small offspring towards investing less total energy into fewer, better provisioned (i.e. larger) offspring. The underlying causes of this pattern have not been assessed in many systems. Two primary hypotheses have been proposed to explain these patterns. The first is an adaptive hypothesis from life-history theory: early offspring have a survival advantage over those produced later. Accordingly, selection favours females that invest in offspring quantity early in the season and offspring quality later. The second hypothesis suggests these patterns are not intrinsic but result from passive responses to seasonal changes in the environment experienced by reproducing females (i.e. maternal environment). To disentangle the causes underlying this pattern, which has been reported in brown anole lizards (Anolis sagrei), we performed complementary field and laboratory studies. The laboratory study carefully controlled maternal environments and quantified reproductive patterns throughout the reproductive season for each female. The field study measured similar metrics from fre...Continue Reading


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