Present Address: Ecole Normale Supérieure, CNRS — URA 258, Laboratoire d'Ecologie, 46, rue d'Ulm 75230 Paris Cedex 05 France
Parasitism as a constraint on the rate of life-history evolution
Version of Record online: 13 DEC 2002
Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 5, Issue 3, pages 491–504, May 1992
How to Cite
Hochberg, M. E., Michalakis, Y. and De Meeus, T. (1992), Parasitism as a constraint on the rate of life-history evolution. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 5: 491–504. doi: 10.1046/j.1420-9101.1992.5030491.x
- Issue online: 13 DEC 2002
- Version of Record online: 13 DEC 2002
- Received 27 November 1990; accepted 21 October 1991.
- Cited By
- life history;
- evolutionary models
There are a number of ways in which a host can respond in evolutionary time to reductions in survival and reproduction due to a virulent parasite. These include evolving physiological morphological, or behavioural mechanisms of resistance to infection (or to proliferation, once infection has occurred). But a more unexpected tactic is also possible. This is for hosts to reproduce (slightly) sooner when in the presence of a virulent parasite as compared to when the parasite is less virulent or absent. As such, hosts which reproduce younger may be at a selective advantage, since they can both evade parasitism in time and, even when parasitised, can reduce the likely impact of the parasite on survival and reproductive success. We employ a simple mathematical model to propose that parasites and pathogens can act as important agents in the evolution of the timing of reproduction and associated life-history characters (e.g. body size). Once established in a semelparous host population, evolutionary increases in parasite virulence should result in the evolution of shorter lived hosts; whereas the evolution of less virulent forms of the parasite should be accompanied by the evolution of longer lived hosts. We argue that in the presence of a sufficiently virulent parasite the evolution of longer pre-reproductive life-spans should require the previous or concomitant evolution of morphological, behavioural or physiological resistance to parasitic infection and proliferation.