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Marker-assisted determination of the relationship between body size and reproductive success and consequences for evaluation of adaptive life histories

Authors


  • M. Morrissey is an evolutionary biologist with interests including trade-offs in life history traits and the genetics of metapopulations. M. Ferguson is an evolutionary geneticist with interests including the molecular basis of quantitative trait variation and the origins of adaptive phenotypic differentiation.

Michael B. Morrissey; E-mail: michael.morrissey@ed.ac.uk

Abstract

We tested for differences in the predicted optimal ages at first maturity in brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis) in Freshwater River, Newfoundland, when life-history data were collated based on the marker-assisted estimation of the relationship between body size and reproductive success rather than using fecundity as a surrogate for reproductive success. Jointly with capture–recapture data to estimate the growth and survival costs of reproduction, we found that weak relationships between body size and reproductive success generate selection against delayed maturation. This finding would not have held for females if the relationship between body size and fecundity had been used as a surrogate for the relationship between body size and reproductive success. This shows that predictions of optimal life histories can be qualitatively changed when using molecular markers to directly evaluate age- and/or size-specific effects of body size on reproductive success.

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