The evolution of life-history traits in parasitic and free-living platyhelminthes: a new perspective
Parasite life histories have been assumed to be shaped by their particular mode of existence. To test this hypothesis, we investigate the relationships between life-history traits of free-living and parasitic platyhelminthes. Using phylogenetically independent contrasts we examine patterns of interspecific covariation in adult size, progeny volume, daily fecundity, total reproductive capacity, age at first reproduction and longevity. The correlations obtained indicate a similar causal chain of life history variations for free-living and parasitic platyhelminthes. These results suggest that increased longevity favours delayed reproduction. Furthermore, growth pattern determines adult body size and age at maturity. For platyhelminthes, whether free-living or parasitic, the total reproductive capacity is found to be directly determined by the size of the worm. Within this group the parasitic way of life does not seem to influence the basic patterns of life history evolution.
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