Saturday, October 07, 2006

 

Why Do Cold Animals Make Bigger Babies? (American Naturalist)

Reproduction involves a critical decision: Should an organism invest energy in a few large offspring or many small ones?

In a new study from the journal The American Naturalist, Michael Angilletta (Indiana State University), Chris Oufiero (University of California, Riverside), and Adam Leache (University of California, Berkeley) used a new statistical approach that can test multiple theories at the same time, an approach they hope will shed light on many evolutionary problems.

...So why do animals in colder climates produce larger offspring? One theory suggests the larger size of offspring counteracts their slow growth in the cold. Yet another theory suggests large offspring are not directly linked to temperature at all. Instead, large offspring just happen to be produced by large mothers, who grow large because they require more energy to reproduce in the cold.

When they tested the theories simultaneously with their new approach, the team concluded that temperature's effect on reproduction is a byproduct of its effect on adult size. "This result could have widespread significance," says Angilletta.

Continued at "Why Do Cold Animals Make Bigger Babies?" [Statistics, Strategy]
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Based on "Direct and Indirect Effects of Environmental Temperature on the Evolution of Reproductive Strategies: An Information-Theoretic Approach" (Abstract - Full Text is also currently available via a link on the Abstract page).

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