Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 270–278 | Cite as

Phylogenetic contrasts and the evolution of mammalian life histories

  • David Berrigan
  • Eric L. Charnov
  • Andy Purvis
  • Paul H. Harvey


A recent synthetic model of mammalian life history evolution predicts that αM = 3(1−δ0.25), where αM is the product of age at maturity and the average adult instantaneous mortality rate, and δ is the ratio of weight at independence to average adult female weight. Previous studies have tested this prediction by fitting a nonlinear regression to data collected for several species of mammals. However, this procedure suffers from non-independence of data points and may have led to incorrect estimates of regression parameters. We test the same life history prediction using phylogenetically independent contrasts with a phylogeny and data for 23 species of mammals. The results accord with the predicted relationship. Our study is one of the few examples where phylogenetic information has been used to improve the statistical power of a quantitative, model-based prediction of how life history variables should co-evolve.


mammal life histories comparative method dimensionless numbers 


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Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Berrigan
    • 1
  • Eric L. Charnov
    • 1
  • Andy Purvis
    • 2
  • Paul H. Harvey
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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