Are patterns of growth adaptive?
Sibly, R., Calow, P. and Nichols, N. (1985) Are patterns of growth adaptive? Journal of Theoretical Biology, 112 (3). pp. 553-574. ISSN 00225193
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/S0022-5193(85)80022-9
Models which define fitness in terms of per capita rate of increase of phenotypes are used to analyse patterns of individual growth. It is shown that sigmoid growth curves are an optimal strategy (i.e. maximize fitness) if (Assumption 1a) mortality decreases with body size; (2a) mortality is a convex function of specific growth rate, viewed from above; (3) there is a constraint on growth rate, which is attained in the first phase of growth. If the constraint is not attained then size should increase at a progressively reducing rate. These predictions are biologically plausible. Catch-up growth, for retarded individuals, is generally not an optimal strategy though in special cases (e.g. seasonal breeding) it might be. Growth may be advantageous after first breeding if birth rate is a convex function of G (the fraction of production devoted to growth) viewed from above (Assumption 5a), or if mortality rate is a convex function of G, viewed from above (Assumption 6c). If assumptions 5a and 6c are both false, growth should cease at the age of first reproduction. These predictions could be used to evaluate the incidence of indeterminate versus determinate growth in the animal kingdom though the data currently available do not allow quantitative tests. In animals with invariant adult size a method is given which allows one to calculate whether an increase in body size is favoured given that fecundity and developmental time are thereby increased.