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PLoS One. 2017 Dec 7;12(12):e0189124. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0189124. eCollection 2017.

Co-existence of multiple trade-off currencies shapes evolutionary outcomes.

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PRIMUS Research Group, Department of Family Medicine, University of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada.
Evolutionary Ecology unit, Department of Biology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
Department of Animal & Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Alfred Denny Building, Sheffield, United Kingdom.
School of Biological Sciences, Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia.


Evolutionary studies often assume that energy is the primary resource (i.e. "currency") at the heart of the survival-reproduction trade-off, despite recent evidence to the contrary. The evolutionary consequences of having a single trade-off currency versus multiple competing currencies are unknown. Using simulations, we modeled the evolution of either a single physiological currency between reproduction and survival, or of multiple such currencies. For a wide array of model specifications varying functional forms and strengths of the trade-offs, we show that the presence of multiple currencies (e.g. nutrients, time) generally results in the evolution of higher lifetime reproductive success through partial circumvention of such trade-offs. Evolution of the underlying physiology is also more highly contingent with multiple currencies. These results challenge the paradigm of a single survival-reproduction trade-off as central to life history evolution, suggesting greater roles for physiological constraints and contingency, and implying potential selection for evolution of multiple trade-off currencies.

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