Dynamic heterogeneity and life histories
ABSTRACT Biodemography is increasingly focused on the large and persistent differences between individuals within populations in fitness components (age at death, reproductive success) and fitness-related components (health, biomarkers) in humans and other species. To study such variation we propose the use of dynamic models of observable phenotypes of individuals. Phenotypic change in turn determines variation among individuals in their fitness components over the life course. We refer to this dynamic accumulation of fitness differences as dynamic heterogeneity and illustrate it for an animal population in which longitudinal data are studied using multistate capture-mark-recapture models. Although our approach can be applied to any characteristic, for our empirical example we use reproduction as the phenotypic character to define stages. We indicate how our stage-structured model describes the nature of the variation among individual characteristics that is generated by dynamic heterogeneity. We conclude by discussing our ongoing and planned work on animals and humans. We also discuss the connections between our work and recent work on human mortality, disability and health, and life course theory.
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ABSTRACT: A commentary is offered on the chapters that comprise the section on Theoretical Foundations, emphasizing novel contributions of each. Three additional points are then made. First, while the biology of reproductive aging may be common to all human populations, its actual course can be expected to vary between individuals and between populations depending on ecological conditions and developmental histories. Second, increasing fertility (such as that typical of humans compared with hominoid relatives and imputed ancestral species) decreases the opportunity and impact of contributions from ascendant relatives and increases the opportunity and impact of contributions from collateral and descendent relatives in promoting the fitness of a focal individual. Finally, an argument is made that the major change in human life history physiology in the Pleistocene has been the extension of adult lifespan, not any change in ovarian physiology or rate of reproductive senescence, and that extended lifespan created a selection pressure for the emergence of indirect reproductive effort among postreproductive individuals, not the reverse.Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 08/2010; 1204:11-20. · 3.15 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The net reproductive rate R0 measures the expected lifetime reproductive output of an individual, and plays an important role in demography, ecology, evolution, and epidemiology. Well-established methods exist to calculate it from age- or stage-classified demographic data. As an expectation, R0 provides no information on variability; empirical measurements of lifetime reproduction universally show high levels of variability, and often positive skewness among individuals. This is often interpreted as evidence of heterogeneity, and thus of an opportunity for natural selection. However, variability provides evidence of heterogeneity only if it exceeds the level of variability to be expected in a cohort of identical individuals all experiencing the same vital rates. Such comparisons require a way to calculate the statistics of lifetime reproduction from demographic data. Here, a new approach is presented, using the theory of Markov chains with rewards, obtaining all the moments of the distribution of lifetime reproduction. The approach applies to age- or stage-classified models, to constant, periodic, or stochastic environments, and to any kind of reproductive schedule. As examples, I analyze data from six empirical studies, of a variety of animal and plant taxa (nematodes, polychaetes, humans, and several species of perennial plants).PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(6):e20809. · 4.09 Impact Factor