An ecological explanation for hyperallometric scaling of reproduction

Tomos Potter, Anja Felmy

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskriftPeer review


In wild populations, large individuals have disproportionately higher reproductive output than smaller individuals. Some theoretical models explain this pattern—termed reproductive hyperallometry—by individuals allocating a greater fraction of available energy towards reproductive effort as they grow. Here, we propose a simple ecological explanation for this observation: differences between individuals in rates of resource assimilation, where greater assimilation causes both increased reproduction and body size, resulting in reproductive hyperallometry at the level of the population. We illustrate this effect by determining the relationship between size and reproduction in wild and laboratory-reared Trinidadian guppies. We show that (a) reproduction increased disproportionately with body size in the wild but not in the laboratory, where resource competition was eliminated; (b) in the wild, hyperallometry was greatest during the wet season, when resource competition is strongest; and (c) detection of hyperallometric scaling of reproduction at the population level was inevitable if individual differences in assimilation were ignored. We propose that ecologically driven variation in assimilation—caused by size-dependent resource competition, niche expansion and chance—contributes substantially to observations of hyperallometric scaling of reproduction in natural populations. We recommend that models incorporate such ecologically caused variation when seeking to explain reproductive hyperallometry. Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog.

Sidor (från-till)1513-1523
Antal sidor11
TidskriftFunctional Ecology
StatusPublished - 2022 juni
Externt publiceradJa

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Functional Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society.


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