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Theor Popul Biol. 2008 Jun;73(4):490-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tpb.2008.02.001. Epub 2008 Feb 16.

Life-history constraints on the success of the many small eggs reproductive strategy.

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  • 1National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark, Charlottenlund Slot, Jaegersborg AllĂ© 1, DK-2920 Charlottenlund, Denmark.


The reproductive strategy of most fishes is to produce a large number of tiny eggs, leading to a huge difference between egg size and asymptotic body size. The viability of this strategy is examined by calculating the life-time reproductive success R(0) as a function of the asymptotic body size. A simple criterion for the optimality of producing small eggs is found, depending on the rate of predation relative to the specific rate of consumption. Secondly it is shown that the success of the reproductive strategy is increasing with asymptotic body size. Finally the existence of both upper and lower limits on the allowed asymptotic sizes is demonstrated. A metabolic upper limit to asymptotic body size for all higher animals is derived.

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