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Selection and constraints on offspring size-number trade-offs in sand lizards (Lacerta agilis)


Ljungstrom, G and Stjernstedt, M and Wapstra, E and Olsson, M, Selection and constraints on offspring size-number trade-offs in sand lizards (Lacerta agilis), Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 29, (5) pp. 979-990. ISSN 1010-061X (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright European Society for Evolutionary Biology

DOI: doi:10.1111/jeb.12838


The trade-off between offspring size and number is a central component of life-history theory, postulating that larger investment into offspring size inevitably decreases offspring number. This trade-off is generally discussed in terms of genetic, physiological or morphological constraints; however, as among-individual differences can mask individual trade-offs, the underlying mechanisms may be difficult to reveal. In this study, we use multivariate analyses to investigate whether there is a trade-off between offspring size and number in a population of sand lizards by separating among- and within-individual patterns using a 15-year data set collected in the wild. We also explore the ecological and evolutionary causes and consequences of this trade-off by investigating how a female's resource (condition)- vs. age-related size (snout-vent length) influences her investment into offspring size vs. number (OSN), whether these traits are heritable and under selection and whether the OSN trade-off has a genetic component. We found a negative correlation between offspring size and number within individual females and physical constraints (size of body cavity) appear to limit the number of eggs that a female can produce. This suggests that the OSN trade-off occurs due to resource constraints as a female continues to grow throughout life and, thus, produces larger clutches. In contrast to the assumptions of classic OSN theory, we did not detect selection on offspring size; however, there was directional selection for larger clutch sizes. The repeatabilities of both offspring size and number were low and we did not detect any additive genetic variance in either trait. This could be due to strong selection (past or current) on these life-history traits, or to insufficient statistical power to detect significant additive genetic effects. Overall, the findings of this study are an important illustration of how analyses of within-individual patterns can reveal trade-offs and their underlying causes, with potential evolutionary and ecological consequences that are otherwise hidden by among-individual variation.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:adaptation, constraints, life history evolution, natural selection, offspring size and number, trade-offs
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Behavioural ecology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences
UTAS Author:Wapstra, E (Professor Erik Wapstra)
ID Code:110432
Year Published:2016
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (FT110100597)
Web of Science® Times Cited:17
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2016-07-27
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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