Dimensionless numbers and life history evolution: Age of maturity versus the adult lifespan


Within many taxa the age of maturity is not simply positively correlated with the adult lifespan; the two variables are proportional to each other. The dimensionless number which is the constant of proportionality thus becomes something to be predicted by life history theory.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Beverton, R. J. H. (1963) Maturation, growth and mortality of clupeid and engraulid stocks in relation to fishing.Rapp. Proces-Verb. Cons. Intern. Explor. Mer 154, 44–67.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Beverton, R. J. H. (1987) Longevity in fish: some ecological and evolutionary considerations, pp. 161–86.In Woodhead, A. D. and K. H. Thompson (eds.)Evolution of Longevity in Animals. Plenum Press, N. Y.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Beverton, R. J. H. and Holt, S. J. (1959) A review of the lifespans and mortality rates of fish in nature and the relation to growth and other physiological characteristics, pp. 142–77.In Ciba Foundation, Colloquia in ageing, V.The Lifespan of Animals. Churchill, London.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Charlesworth, B. (1980)Evolution in Age Structured Populations Cambridge Univ. Press, N. Y.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Charnov, E. L. (1990) On evolution of age of maturity and the adult lifespan.Jour. Evol. Biol. 3, 139–44.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Charnov, E. L. (1989) Natural selection on age of maturity in shrimp.Evolutionary Ecology 3, 236–9.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Charnov, E. L. (1979) Natural selection and sex change in Pandalid shrimp: test of a life history theory.Amer. Natur. 113, 715–34.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Charnov, E. L. and Shine, R. (1990) Patterns of survivorship, growth and maturation in snakes and lizards. (Submitted,Amer. Natur.).

  9. Charnov, E. L. and Berrigan, D. (1990) Evolution of life history parameters in fish. (Submitted,Evol. Ecol.).

  10. Millar, J. S. and Zammuto, R. M. (1983) Life histories of mammals: an analysis of life tables.Ecology 64, 631–5.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Stearns, S. C. and Crandall, R. E. (1981) Quantitative predictions of delayed maturity.Evolution 35, 455–63.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Tinkle, D. W., Wilbur, H. M. and Tilley, S. G. (1970) Evolutionary strategies in lizard reproduction.Evolution 24, 55–74.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Williams, G. C. (1966).Adaptation and Natural Selection. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Charnov, E.L., Berrigan, D. Dimensionless numbers and life history evolution: Age of maturity versus the adult lifespan. Evol Ecol 4, 273–275 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02214335

Download citation


  • Endotherms
  • ectotherms
  • life history rules
  • comparative demography