NCEAS Project 12360

Evaluating life history theory and the consequences of reproductive strategy for population fluctuations

  • Jennifer L. Williams

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Postdoctoral Fellow2nd December 2008—14th October 2011Participant List  

Organisms have evolved a variety of mechanisms to maximize individual fitness in the face of environmental stochasticity that may also serve to buffer population fluctuations. Life history strategies for reproduction, including whether to produce all offspring at once (semelparity) or to spread out the reproductive effort across several bouts (iteroparity), can lead to important consequences for population persistence. While much theory predicts which strategy should be optimal for individuals, few empirical tests exist. The proposed research will use stochastic population models compiled from published and unpublished data of species that exhibit facultative semelparity to address two unresolved issues in evolutionary biology and population ecology: when can iteroparity buffer population fluctuations and do life history predictions match the observed strategy with realized levels of stochasticity? This project will help to refine current life history theory on semelparity and iteroparity, and will clarify the connection between selection pressures on individuals and the consequences for population persistence. Understanding a mechanism that can buffer population fluctuations will also contribute to predictions of which species may be more vulnerable to increased climate variability. Support from NCEAS will be crucial for gathering the volume of data necessary to conduct this research, and collaborations with resident and visiting ecologists will enhance not only this project but initiate new research.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Maron, John L.; Horvitz, Carol C.; Williams, Jennifer L. 2010. Using experiments, demography and population models to estimate interaction strength based on transient and asymptotic dynamics. Journal of Ecology. Vol: 98. Pages 290-301. (Online version)
Journal Article Miller, Tom E.X.; Williams, Jennifer L.; Jongejans, Eelke; Brys, Rein; Jacquemyn, Hans. 2012. Evolutionary demography of iteroparous plants: Incorporating non-lethal costs of reproduction into integral projection models. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences. Vol: 279. Pages 2831-2840. (Online version)
Journal Article Williams, Jennifer L. 2009. Flowering life-history strategies differ between the native and introduced ranges of a monocarpic perennial. American Naturalist. Vol: 174. Pages 660-672.
Journal Article Williams, Jennifer L.; Auge, Harald; Maron, John L. 2010. Testing hypotheses for exotic plant success: Parallel experiments in the native and introduced ranges. Ecology. Vol: 91(5). Pages 1355-1366. (Online version)
Data Set Williams, Jennifer L. 2011. Demographic data of Cynoglussoms officinale at 3 sites in the native and introduced ranges from 2004-2007. (Online version)
Journal Article Williams, Jennifer L.; Ellis, Martha; Bricker, Mary C.; Brodie, Jedediah F.; Parsons, Elliot W. 2011. Distance to stable stage distribution in plant populations and implications for near-term population projections. Vol: 99. Pages 1171-1178. (Online version)
Journal Article Williams, Jennifer L.; Miller, Tom E.X.; Ellner, Stephen P. 2012. Avoiding unintentional eviction from integral projection models. Ecology. Vol: 93(9). Pages 2008-2014. (Online version)
Journal Article Williams, Jennifer L.; Fishman, Lila. 2014. Genetic evidence for founder effects in the introduced range of houndstongue (Cynoglossum officinale) . Biological Invasions. Vol: 16(1). Pages 205-216.