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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2008 Jan 27;363(1490):301-19.

Optimal annual routines: behaviour in the context of physiology and ecology.

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  • 1Department of Mathematics, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1TW, UK.


Organisms in a seasonal environment often schedule activities in a regular way over the year. If we assume that such annual routines have been shaped by natural selection then life-history theory should provide a basis for explaining them. We argue that many life-history trade-offs are mediated by underlying physiological variables that act on various time scales. The dynamics of these variables often preclude considering one period of the year in isolation. In order to capture the essence of annual routines, and many life-history traits, a detailed model of changes in physiological state over the annual cycle is required. We outline a modelling approach based on suitable physiological and ecological state variables that can capture this underlying biology, and describe how models based on this approach can be used to generate a range of insights and predictions.

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