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Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc. 2000 Aug;75(3):377-404.

The evolution of fitness in life-history theory.

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  • Department of Ecology and Systematics, University of Helsinki, Finland. jon.brommer@helsinki.fi


Theory concerning the evolution of life history (the schedule of reproduction and survival) focuses on describing the life history which maximises fitness. Although there is an intuitive link between life history and fitness, there are in fact several measures of the 'black box' concept of fitness. There has been a debate in the bio-mathematical literature on the predictive difference between the two most commonly used measures; intrinsic rate of increase r and net reproductive ratio R0. Although both measures aim to describe fitness, models using one of the measures may predict the opposite of similar models using the other measure, which is clearly undesirable. Here, I review the evolution of these fitness measures over the last four decades, the predictive differences between these measures and the resulting shift of the fitness concept. I focus in particular on some recent developments, which have solved the dilemma of predictive differences between these fitness measures by explicitly acknowledging the game-theoretical nature of life-history evolution.

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