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Measuring the Cost of Reproduction. I. The Correlation Structure of the Life Table of a Plank Rotifer

Graham Bell
Evolution
Vol. 38, No. 2 (Mar., 1984), pp. 300-313
DOI: 10.2307/2408489
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2408489
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Measuring the Cost of Reproduction. I. The Correlation Structure of the Life Table of a Plank Rotifer
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Abstract

The cost hypothesis states that any increment in present reproduction is associated with a decrement in the expectation of future reproduction. It is crucial to the theory of life histories, but has yet to receive clear and general support from empirical studies. This support may be provided by passive experiments, in which the correlation between life-history variables is measured when systematic variation due to genotype or environment has been eliminated or controlled, or by manipulative experiments, in which the fate of individuals whose reproduction has been altered is compared with that of control individuals. Either type of experiment might demonstrate a relationship between present fecundity and survival (the survival cost) or between present and future fecundity (the fecundity cost). These costs might be caused directly (variable costs), in which case they will be detected by comparing the future performance of genetically identical individuals with different present reproduction, or they might have become genetically programmed (acquired costs) as the result of selection acting through the variable costs, and will be detected by comparing the mean performance of different genotypes. The passive experiment described here used the life tables of 15 clones of the rotifer Platyias patulus to study the variable and acquired survival and fecundity costs. The negative correlations predicted by the cost hypothesis were not found in any case; instead, correlations tended to be positive. This result might be attributable to the peculiarities of the organism; to the procedural details of the experiment; to the general inappropriateness of the laboratory situation; to fundamental logical flaws in the design of passive experiments; to the fallacy or incompleteness of the cost hypothesis; or to the fallacy of the Darwinian interpretation of life histories. A program of experimentation designed to sift these possibilities is outlined.

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