Genetics, Ecology, and the Evolution of Life Histories

  • Hugh Dingle
  • Joseph P. Hegmann
Conference paper
Part of the Proceedings in Life Sciences book series (LIFE SCIENCES)


In a seminal discussion MacArthur and Wilson (1967) provided a logical framework for the development of a theory of life history evolution. They reasoned that colonizing species at low densities in pioneer habitats should evolve a suite of life table characters emphasizing early and rapid production of offspring. In contrast, species in stable communities with density dependence were expected to display traits associated with strong competitive abilities and behavioral characteristics promoting the survival of individual offspring. Their exposition clearly emphasized the importance of gene influences on life history variation, because an understanding of genetic structure is essential to understanding evolutionary processes. In their words, “The degree of deflection and rebound of r depends of course on the heritability of the life-table parameters. Measurements of this heritability, and estimates of its influence on evolution under various colonizing conditions, remain to be made.” Until recently, additional analyses of life history evolution have been largely theoretical and usually without the explicit inclusion of appropriate genetic variation (summarized by Stearns 1976).


Life History Life History Variation Life History Evolution Explicit Inclusion Individual Offspring 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hugh Dingle
  • Joseph P. Hegmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Program in Evolutionary Ecology and Behavior Department of ZoologyUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA

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