Physiological dynamics, reproduction-maintenance allocations and life history evolution

Sinead English, Michael Bonsall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
170 Downloads (Pure)


Allocation of resources to competing processes of growth, maintenance, or reproduction is arguably a key process driving the physiology of life history trade‐offs and has been shown to affect immune defenses, the evolution of aging, and the evolutionary ecology of offspring quality. Here, we develop a framework to investigate the evolutionary consequences of physiological dynamics by developing theory linking reproductive cell dynamics and components of fitness associated with costly resource allocation decisions to broader life history consequences. We scale these reproductive cell allocation decisions to population‐level survival and fecundity using a life history approach and explore the effects of investment in reproduction or tissue‐specific repair (somatic or reproductive) on the force of selection, reproductive effort, and resource allocation decisions. At the cellular level, we show that investment in protecting reproductive cells increases fitness when reproductive cell maturation rate is high or reproductive cell death is high. At the population level, life history fitness measures show that cellular protection increases reproductive value by differential investment in somatic or reproductive cells and the optimal allocation of resources to reproduction is moulded by this level of investment. Our model provides a framework to understand the evolutionary consequences of physiological processes underlying trade‐offs and highlights the insights to be gained from considering fitness at multiple levels, from cell dynamics through to population growth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9312-9323
Number of pages12
JournalEcology and Evolution
Early online date30 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2019


  • Euler-Lotka
  • force of selection
  • levels of fitness
  • reproductive value
  • theoretical evolutionary ecology


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