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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Feb;87(3):1139-43.

Delayed reproduction and fitness in variable environments.

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Biological Sciences, Stanford University 94305.


Many organisms delay the initiation of reproduction even though such delay is not adaptive in a constant environment. Theoretical arguments in this paper show that delaying reproduction can increase fitness in a sufficiently variable environment. This paper uses stochastic demography to analyze the fluctuating population structure produced by environmental uncertainty. The results explain previously puzzling features of life cycle delays observed in nature, predicting that populations of the same species living in environments of differing harshness can display different life history phenotypes, a number of distinct life history phenotypes can coexist neutrally within a single population, and genetic polymorphisms are easily maintained if heterozygotes have intermediate life history phenotypes.

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