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What's the meta-analytic evidence for life-history trade-offs at the genetic level?
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  • Chia-chen Chang,
  • Maria Moiron,
  • Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar,
  • Petri Niemela,
  • Kate Laskowski
Chia-chen Chang
UC Davis
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Maria Moiron
Institute of Avian Research
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Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar
Bielefeld University
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Petri Niemela
University of Helsinki
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Kate Laskowski
UC Davis

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Understanding the evolutionary mechanisms underlying the maintenance of individual differences in behavior and physiology is a fundamental goal in ecology and evolution. The Pace-of-life syndrome hypothesis is often invoked to explain the maintenance of such within-population variation. This hypothesis predicts that behavioral traits are part of a suite of correlated traits that collectively determine an individual’s propensity to prioritize reproduction or survival. A key assumption of this hypothesis is that these traits are underpinned by genetic trade-offs among life-history traits: genetic variants that increase fertility, reproduction and growth might also reduce lifespan. We performed a systematic literature review and meta-analysis to summarize the evidence for the existence of genetic trade-offs between five key life-history traits: survival, growth rate, body size, maturation rate, and fertility. Counter to our predictions, we found an overall positive genetic correlation between survival and other life-history traits and no evidence for any genetic correlations between the non-survival life-history traits. This finding was generally consistent across pairs of life-history traits, sexes, life stages, lab vs field studies, and narrow- vs broad-sense correlation estimates. Our study highlights that genetic trade-offs may not be as common, or at least not as easily quantifiable, in animals as often assumed.
26 Jun 2023Submitted to Ecology Letters
28 Jun 2023Submission Checks Completed
28 Jun 2023Assigned to Editor
28 Jun 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
30 Jun 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
31 Aug 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
21 Sep 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
21 Sep 20231st Revision Received
22 Sep 2023Submission Checks Completed
22 Sep 2023Assigned to Editor
27 Sep 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
21 Nov 2023Editorial Decision: Accept