Fecundity selection theory: concepts and evidence

Pincheira-Donoso, Daniel and Hunt, John (2017) Fecundity selection theory: concepts and evidence. Biological Reviews, 92 (1). pp. 341-356. ISSN 1464-7931

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Fitness results from the optimal balance between survival, mating success and fecundity. The interactions between these three components of fitness vary importantly depending on the selective context, from positive covariation between them, to antagonistic pleiotropic relationships when fitness increases in one reduce fitness of others. Therefore, elucidating the routes through which selection shapes life history and phenotypic adaptations via these fitness components is of primary significance to understand ecological and evolutionary dynamics. However, while the fitness components mediated by natural (survival) and sexual (mating success) selection have extensively been debated from most possible perspectives, fecundity selection remains considerably less studied. Here, we review the theory, evidence and implications of fecundity selection as a driver of sex-specific adaptive evolution. Based on accumulating literature on the life-history, phenotypic and ecological aspects of fecundity, we (i) suggest that ‘fecundity’ is restricted to refer to brood size per reproductive episode, while ‘annual’ and ‘lifetime fecundity’ should not be used interchangeably with ‘fecundity’ as they represent different life history parameters; (ii) provide a generalized redefinition of fecundity selection that encompasses any traits that influence fecundity in any direction (from high to low) and in either sex; (iii) review the (macro)ecological basis of fecundity selection (e.g., ecological pressures that influence predictable spatial variation in fecundity); (iv) suggest that most ecological theories of fecundity selection should be tested in organisms other than birds; (v) argue that the longstanding fecundity selection hypothesis of female-biased sexual size dimorphism (SSD) has gained inconsistent support, that strong fecundity selection does not necessarily drive female-biased SSD, and that this form of SSD can be driven by other selective pressures; and (vi) discuss cases in which fecundity selection operates on males.

Keywords:fecundity selection, fecundity;fitness, brood size, reproductive success, polyandry, life history, trade-offs, sexual dimorphism
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:19881
Deposited On:21 Dec 2015 15:59

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