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Keywords:

  • Bayesian inference;
  • cost of reproduction;
  • life-history theory;
  • selective survival;
  • state-space model

Evolutionary trade-offs among demographic parameters are important determinants of life-history evolution. Investigating such trade-offs under natural conditions has been limited by inappropriate analytical methods that fail to address the bias in demographic estimates that can result when issues of detection (uncertain detection of individual) are ignored. We propose a new statistical approach to quantify evolutionary trade-offs in wild populations. Our method is based on a state-space modeling framework that focuses on both the demographic process of interest as well as the observation process. As a case study, we used individual mark–recapture data for stream-dwelling Atlantic salmon juveniles in the Scorff River (Southern Brittany, France). In freshwater, juveniles face two life-history choices: migration to the ocean and sexual maturation (for males). Trade-offs may appear with these life-history choices and survival, because all are energy dependent. We found a cost of reproduction on survival for fish staying in freshwater and a survival advantage associated with the “decision” to migrate. Our modeling framework opens up promising prospects for the study of evolutionary trade-offs when some life-history traits are not, or only partially, observable.