Heritable body size mediates apparent life-history trade-offs in a simultaneous hermaphrodite


Brooke L. W. Miller, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California at Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA.
Tel.: +1 831 227 7770; fax: +1 831 459 5353;
e-mail: miller@biology.ucsc.edu


Physiological trade-offs between life-history traits can constrain natural selection and maintain genetic variation in the face of selection, thereby shaping evolutionary trajectories. This study examines physiological trade-offs in simultaneously hermaphroditic banana slugs, Ariolimax dolichophallus. These slugs have high heritable variation in body size, which strongly predicts the number of clutches laid, hatching success and progeny growth rate. These fitness components were associated, but only when examined in correlation with body size. Body size mediated these apparent trade-offs in a continuum where small animals produced rapidly growing progeny, intermediate-sized animals laid many clutches and large animals had high hatching success. This study uses a novel statistical method in which the components of fitness are analysed in a mancova and related to a common covariate, body size, which has high heritability. The mancova reveals physiological trade-offs among the components of fitness that were previously masked by high variation in body size.