1. We collated information from the literature on life history traits of the roach (a generalist freshwater fish), and analysed variation in absolute fecundity, von Bertalanffy parameters, and reproductive lifespan in relation to latitude, using both linear and non-linear regression models. We hypothesized that because most life history traits are dependent on growth rate, and growth rate is non-linearly related with temperature, it was likely that when analysed over the whole distribution range of roach, variation in key life history traits would show non-linear patterns with latitude.
2. As fecundity depends strongly on length, and the length structure of females varied among populations, latitudinal patterns in fecundity were examined based on residuals from the length–fecundity relationship. The reproductive lifespan of roach was estimated as the difference between age at maturity and maximum age of females in each population.
3. The three life history traits of roach analysed all varied among populations and were non-linearly related to latitude. Only the relationship between reproductive lifespan and latitude was a better fit to a linear that to a quadratic model, although Loess smoothing curves revealed that this relationship was actually closer to biphasic than linear in form. A latitude of 50°N formed a break point in all three life history traits.
4. The negative relationships we have described between (i) fecundity and reproductive lifespan and (ii) fecundity and egg mass suggest that lower fecundity is compensated for by longer lifespan, while lower fecundity is compensated for by an increased egg mass, when analysed independently of location.