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Directionality theory: an empirical study of an entropic principle for life-history evolution

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Demetrius,  Lloyd
Dept. of Computational Molecular Biology (Head: Martin Vingron), Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Ziehe, M., & Demetrius, L. (2005). Directionality theory: an empirical study of an entropic principle for life-history evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences (London), 272, 1185-1194. doi:10.1098/rspb.2004.3032.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-8602-A
Abstract
Understanding the relationship between ecological constraints and life-history properties constitutes a central problem in evolutionary ecology. Directionality theory, a model of the evolutionary process based on demographic entropy, a measure of the uncertainty in the age of the mother of a randomly chosen newborn, provides an analytical framework for addressing this problem. The theory predicts that in populations that spend the greater part of their evolutionary history in the stationary growth phase (equilibrium species), entropy will increase. Equilibrium species will be characterized by high iteroparity and strong demographic stability. In populations that spend the greater part of their evolutionary history in the exponential growth phase (opportunistic species), entropy will decrease when population size is large, and will undergo random variation when population size is small. Opportunistic species will be characterized by weak iteroparity and weak demographic stability when population size is large, and random variations in these attributes when population size is small. This paper assesses the validity of these predictions by employing a demographic dataset of 66 species of perennial plants. This empirical analysis is consistent with directionality theory and provides support for its significance as an explanatory and predictive model of life-history evolution.