Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Proc Biol Sci. 2006 Mar 22;273(1587):741-50.

The influence of juvenile and adult environments on life-history trajectories.

Author information

  • 1Behavioural ecology, University of Bern, Wohlenstrasse 50 A, CH-3032 Hinterkappelen, Swizerland.


There is increasing evidence that the environment experienced early in life can strongly influence adult life histories. It is largely unknown, however, how past and present conditions influence suites of life-history traits regarding major life-history trade-offs. Especially in animals with indeterminate growth, we may expect that environmental conditions of juveniles and adults independently or interactively influence the life-history trade-off between growth and reproduction after maturation. Juvenile growth conditions may initiate a feedback loop determining adult allocation patterns, triggered by size-dependent mortality risk. I tested this possibility in a long-term growth experiment with mouthbrooding cichlids. Females were raised either on a high-food or low-food diet. After maturation half of them were switched to the opposite treatment, while the other half remained unchanged. Adult growth was determined by current resource availability, but key reproductive traits like reproductive rate and offspring size were only influenced by juvenile growth conditions, irrespective of the ration received as adults. Moreover, the allocation of resources to growth versus reproduction and to offspring number versus size were shaped by juvenile rather than adult ecology. These results indicate that early individual history must be considered when analysing causes of life-history variation in natural populations.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk