Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

K-Reproductive Strategy

  • D. Susie LeeEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_339-1


A K-reproductive strategy is a set of life history traits that would be selected for when a population reaches highest density. The terminology is taken from a parameter in population growth models, where carrying capacity (K) is the maximum population size that can be supported by an environment. The opposite strategy is an r reproductive strategy, after the parameter for the maximum intrinsic rate of natural increase (rmax) at theoretically zero density.

Origin of the Concept

The terms r- and K-strategy originated from “r-selection” and “K-selection,” which were first coined by MacArthur and Wilson (1967). On a hypothetical island with a starting point of abundant resources, these resources would become limited as the island is fully occupied. Using this example, the authors proposed that different selection regimes would operate as resource limitation experienced by a population changes between two opposing ends of density dependence – low to high density. Under this...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Constance Dubuc
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CambridgeCambridgeUK