Static and dynamic expression of life history traits in the Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)

S. H. Orzack, U. K. Steiner, S. Tuljapurkar, P. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the static and dynamic expression of life history traits is a prerequisite for the development of a causal theory of the evolution of aging and of life histories. We analyzed the statics and dynamics of reproduction and survival in a wild population of the northern fulmar, Fulmarus glacialis (Procellaridae). Survival rate is most influenced by year as compared to age and cohort. When temporal variation is ignored, survival rate increases slowly with age and then declines more rapidly at late ages. Survival rate contingent upon reproductive ‘stratum’ (producing an egg, hatching an egg, fledging a hatchling) also exhibits this pattern. Survival and reproduction have a positive static association in that survival rate increases as the apparent energy allocated to reproduction increases (as indexed by stratum). There is a broad distribution of realized lifetime reproductive success, which could be due to ‘fixed’ heterogeneity, with some individuals always having low survival and reproduction and others always having high survival and reproduction, or be due to ‘dynamic’ heterogeneity, with all individuals having the same expected reproductive and survival rates. Analysis of stochastic stratum dynamics indicates that individuals do not remain long in any given stratum and suggest that the variation among individuals with respect to lifetime reproductive success is due to dynamic heterogeneity. The probability of producing an egg increases with age for both sexes, whereas the probability of producing a fledgling initially declines with age and then increases. These results underscore the necessity of understanding the static and dynamic expression of demographic traits when making a causal claim about their evolution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-380
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Early online date12 Oct 2010
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


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