Stage-Structured Evolutionary Demography: Linking Life Histories, Population Genetics, and Ecological Dynamics. Academic Article uri icon


  • Demographic processes and ecological interactions are central to understanding evolution and vice versa. We present a novel framework that combines basic Mendelian genetics with the powerful demographic approach of matrix population models. The ecological components of the model may be stage classified or age classified, linear or nonlinear, time invariant or time varying, and deterministic or stochastic. Genotypes may affect, in fully pleiotropic fashion, any mixture of demographic traits (viability, fertility, development) at any points in the life cycle. The dynamics of the stage × genotype structure of the population are given by a nonlinear population projection matrix. We show how to construct this matrix and use it to derive sufficient conditions for a protected genetic polymorphism for the case of linear, time-independent demography. These conditions demonstrate that genotype-specific population growth rates (?) do not determine the outcome of selection. Except in restrictive special cases, heterozygote superiority in ? is neither necessary nor sufficient for a genetic polymorphism. As a consequence, the population growth rate does not always increase, and populations can be driven to extinction due to evolutionary suicide. We demonstrate the construction and analysis of the model using data on a color polymorphism in the common buzzard (Buteo buteo). The model exhibits a stable genetic polymorphism and declining growth rate, consistent with field data and previous models.

publication date

  • April 2019