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Lack, Skutch, and Moreau: The Early Development of Life-History Thinking
Robert E. Ricklefs
Vol. 102, No. 1 (Feb., 2000), pp. 3-8
Published by: American Ornithological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1370403
Page Count: 6
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Papers by Reginald Moreau, David Lack, and Alexander Skutch published during the 1940s set the stage for the development of thinking about life histories over the following decades. Lack was concerned about the fundamental issue of individual vs. group selection and turned life-history evolution into a battleground for this debate. His monolithic focus on nesting success as a measure of fitness and on food availability as the principal determinant of nesting success obscured the rich empirical background brought to the debate by Skutch and the diverse evolutionary forces envisioned by Moreau. Lack's strong convictions, single-mindedness, and eloquence forced biologists to confront several important problems but also held back the full development of life-history theory until the mid-1960s. Retrospective consideration of these early life-history studies shows how science can progress through a balance of conviction and reflection.
The Condor © 2000 Cooper Ornithological Society