Trade-offs between growth and reproduction: an analysis of the quantitative genetic evidence


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The assumption of a trade-off between development time and fecundity, resulting from a positive correlation between body size and fecundity and between body size and development time, is a common feature of life history models. The present paper examines the evidence for such a trade-off as indicated by genetic correlations between traits. The genetic covariances between traits are derived using a model in which maturation occurs when the organism achieves a genetically variable size threshold, and fecundity is an allometric function of body size with one genetically variable parameter (excluding body size itself). This model predicts that the heritabilities of the life history traits (growth rate, development time, fecundity) will not necessarily be less than the heritability of adult size (i.e. morphological traits). It is shown that if growth rate is genetically correlated with adult size then it is not possible, in general, to predict the sign of the genetic correlation between development time and fecundity. For particular cases the signs of the covariances between traits can be predicted. These predictions are tested using data drawn from the literature.