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Environmental drivers defining linkages among life-history traits: mechanistic insights from a semiterrestrial amphipod subjected to macroscale gradients

Authors

  • Julio Gómez,

    Corresponding author
    1. UNDECIMAR, Departamento de Ecología y Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias, UdelaR, Montevideo, Uruguay
    • Correspondence

      Julio Gómez, UNDECIMAR, Departamento de Ecología y Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias, UdelaR, Iguá 4225, Montevideo, Uruguay. Tel: 598 2 525 8618; Fax: 598 2 525 8617; E-mail: julgofe@fcien.edu.uy

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  • Francisco R. Barboza,

    1. UNDECIMAR, Departamento de Ecología y Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias, UdelaR, Montevideo, Uruguay
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  • Omar Defeo

    1. UNDECIMAR, Departamento de Ecología y Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias, UdelaR, Montevideo, Uruguay
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Abstract

Determining the existence of interconnected responses among life-history traits and identifying underlying environmental drivers are recognized as key goals for understanding the basis of phenotypic variability. We studied potentially interconnected responses among senescence, fecundity, embryos size, weight of brooding females, size at maturity and sex ratio in a semiterrestrial amphipod affected by macroscale gradients in beach morphodynamics and salinity. To this end, multiple modelling processes based on generalized additive mixed models were used to deal with the spatio-temporal structure of the data obtained at 10 beaches during 22 months. Salinity was the only nexus among life-history traits, suggesting that this physiological stressor influences the energy balance of organisms. Different salinity scenarios determined shifts in the weight of brooding females and size at maturity, having consequences in the number and size of embryos which in turn affected sex determination and sex ratio at the population level. Our work highlights the importance of analysing field data to find the variables and potential mechanisms that define concerted responses among traits, therefore defining life-history strategies.

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